Arunachala Pradakshina – June 2008 Full Moon – Part One: By Richard Clarke

After walking ’round Arunachala in April in the moonlight, amidst a crowd said to be 1.5 million people, we celebrated THIS month’s full moon by walking around in the morning. We found this to be much more harmonious, and easier to take pictures than during the crowded night walk.

Shown below are photos taken June 18, 2008. They are all on the ‘Pradakshina road,’ from the junction with Bangalore (Chengam) Road to where this road meets the main road back into Tiruvannamalai, so from the viewpoint of Arunachala, from the South West, to the North West sides of Arunachala.

I have tried to put in names of temples, shrines, etc. I am unsure of the spelling of some of them, so if there are errors, let me know and I will correct them.

Carol Getting Ready – Removing her shoes

It is the tradition that Arunachala is a temple, and the path around the temple, for good punya (merit) should always be walked barefoot. IF you look closely you will see that most Indians do this. Carol frequently walks barefoot, as she can. I still hold more to shoes or sandals. Even with this, I have had several blisters and foot sores that caused restricted activity for a while as they healed.

HPIM4782

Jyoti Vinayaka Shrine

This shrine is right at the intersection of Bangalore Road and Pradakshina road.

HPIM4783

Carol is getting blessed by the priest.

HPIM4786

Along the way

Much of the road is lined with vendors and stalls. There were still many people making pradakshina this morning. In the photo below there is a group of young women walking. You can tell they they are young because they are wearing ‘punjabi’ or ‘salwar’ suits, instead of saris, which is what are worn by most Indian women.

HPIM4787

Here is Richard. Note the vibuthi, placed on my forehead by the same priest that blessed Carol.

HPIM4788

Another Temple

I am not sure of the name of this shrine. To its left is a big building that says it is a ‘Free marriage hall.’ I believe they let sadhus sleep there overnight.

HPIM4798

Om Namo Sivaya

We often meet this sadhu in the morning when we go up the trail to get to the Inner Path. This goes past what we call the Sadhu Tank. I think this is called “Kattu Shiva Hermitage” on some maps. Usually he gives a big smile and says “Om namo Sivaya” as we pass on the trail. This morning he was out on the road, on his way back to “the tank.” We walked together for a bit.

HPIM4800

Here he is with Carol. He put on his Siva dhoti for the picture instead of the plain saffron one.

HPIM4801

Chalk figure of Hanuman

Note that the artist put cloth boundaries on the pavement, trying to prevent walk-overs.

HPIM4803

Selling Hammocks

It took some time before we know what the red and green strings were, hanging in this photo. They are hammocks!

HPIM4804

Dourvaas Nama Siva Shrine

Here they usually used to ask us for ’20 Rupees’ for a “wish bag” to tie on a tree behind the shrine. These wish bags are a common feature in a temple. For example, when a woman wants a child, she will tie a bag onto a tree at a nearby temple.

This is right across the road from where we usually go onto the trail to the Inner Path. This is described in the posting

.

HPIM4805

One of many Nandis

There are many Nandis along the road. Nandi the Bull is Siva’s attendant and gate keeper. In a temple, Nandi will face the lingam. Around Arunachala, most face the mountain.

Women visit images of Nandi, bringing floral offerings, and touch the stone. Their prayers are usually for fertility.

HPIM4808

Clean-up after Full Moon night

Empty coconuts, after a night of drinking coconut juice. Cleaning up after the full moon night is an issue. Some vendors do this with care. Many do not. And many of the people will throw trash anywhere.

HPIM4809

Supplies from a drink stand, going back on a bullock cart.

HPIM4811

Another Nandi, by Soma Tirtam (Soma Tank)

HPIM4814

CD and DVD stand

Across from Soma Tirtam. There are a number of these stands, usually blasting out some Siva chant or song.

HPIM4816

Mahashakti Shrine, covered with ‘wish bags’

HPIM4823 HPIM4825

Sadhus

Sadhu with begging bowl

HPIM4827

Sitting on bench

HPIM4830

Elderly Sadhu. Just walking seems like a big task.

HPIM4858

Vendors

HPIM4828

Man whispering secrets into Nandi’s ear

He spent some time whispering to Nandi. Must have had a lot of wishes.

HPIM4832

Babies

Young couple with babe in arms. Mother says proudly, “38 days old.” They were very pleased to be taking their new baby on pradakshina around Arunachala.

HPIM4835

Another baby watching the first baby. You see many babies in the arms of their parents, being carried around the mountain.

HPIM4837

One of the nine Lingams, Nirudhi Shrine

HPIM4839

Carol getting blessed

HPIM4844

Sadhu taking morning bath in Nirudhi Tank

HPIM4847

More vendors

Food stand with thatched roof

HPIM4848

Man sleeping on table after a long night

HPIM4849

Vallalar Temple with Sadhus

Vallalar Temple features the Nine Planets

HPIM4852

Sadhu in tea stand

HPIM4856

Brightly colored Rudraksha pendants

HPIM4857

For the rest of this article, go to

Arunachala Pradakshina – June 2008 Full Moon – Part Two: By Richard Clarke

More Temples

Unnamalai Amman Mandapam. The green objects on each pillar are frogs.

HPIM4861

New temple, I do not know the name.

HPIM4864

Hanuman Temple

HPIM4865

More Sadhus sitting on bench

This is how I saw most sadhus today, sitting by the roadside on a bench watching all the people going by.

HPIM4867

Another Nandi

HPIM4872

More Temples

Palani Andavar Temple

HPIM4874

Paramansa Nityananda Peedam, with 1008 Lingams

HPIM4876

Ancient Shrine, near Echo Temple

HPIM4883

Raja Rajeshwari Temple, opposite Kannapar ShrineHPIM4877

Waiting to go to School

Though Full Moon night is a big event, with people traveling from all over India to participate, for the local children, life goes on as usual. Here there is a group. I guess they are waiting for a bus. Different schools have different colored uniforms. The older girls wear ‘punjabi’ or salwar suits. Younger girls wear things like the little girl in the front right, a shirt and a dress (she has a white shirt under a tunic).

HPIM4885

Roadside Altar

If you look closely you will see, on the tines of the tridents, bangle bracelets that have been left behind as an offering by earnest women passing by this altar.

HPIM4888

Sugarcane Juice Stand

These sugarcane stands are common here. They will crush the sugarcane and give you a glass of cane juice, for a nice sugar lift.

HPIM4889

Building Another Ashram: Babuji Guru, associated with Sai Baba

I wonder if more temples and such are needed along the road. Still they are still building more. This will be another Ashram.

HPIM4890

Village woman sitting by house

Village life goes on, unfazed by all the people walking past.

HPIM4891

The Feet of Sri Ram to worship

You will see these feet carvings in many places. Once, when we were walking in the forest near the Sadhu Tank, we came across a flat rock, with feet like this carved in the rock.

HPIM4893

Arunachala from the road

Parvati hill is to the right, The Elephant in the center.

HPIM4894

Altar made around Ant Hill

HPIM4895

Another of the Nine Lingams – Varuna Lingam

HPIM4896

Fruit Juice Stand

Note the boys in the back posing for the picture.

HPIM4897

Into Adi Anamalai Village

Adi Anamalai Temple is to the right, not visible from the road.

HPIM4899

Making our coffee at a Tea Stand. We sat for a bit and had Indian Milk Coffee to energize us for the rest of the walk.

HPIM4901

Kaliyama Temple, opposite Manikkacachakar Shrine

Notice the tables with ceramic statues and other items to sell to the walkers.

HPIM4902

Looking into the shrine.

HPIM4903

On the other side of the shrine were food vendors. And the tree that is usually associated with each temple. This tree is where local people will perform part of the Shraddha ceremony, after a person dies. See Indian Village 13-day ceremony for more on this.

HPIM4905

Another Ant Hill Altar

HPIM4908

More Temples

I don’t know the name for this. Arunachala is behind the temple.

HPIM4909

These horses are often seen associated with a temple. I am not sure of the significance. Perhaps someone can tell me.

HPIM4910

Vayu Lingam (Gas Lingam). The meaning of two of the lingam names was given to me be a friend. I am not sure of the significance of “Gas lingam.”

HPIM4912

The One and Only Deathless Art Center

This is a small store we saw where the road to Kanji intersects the Pradakshina Road.

HPIM4914

Views from the road

This stretch has few temples and vendors.

HPIM4915

Here is an attractively painted building. You can see how the Indians love color. HPIM4919

People having breakfast at a food stand beside the roadway.

HPIM4920

Small houses line the street in this section. Arunachala is behind them.

HPIM4922

This brightly painted sign for Ramraj cotton underclothes is painted on many roadside buildings. Also you will see similar signs for Poomer underclothes and cottons.

HPIM4924

Small rustic roadside Temple

There is a photo of this lit up at night in

HPIM4926

Chandra Lingam

Chandra Lingam, now with a tree growing from it.

HPIM4927

One more of the nine Lingams – Kubera Lingam

This is the money lingam, per my friend.

HPIM4928

In front of the lingam is a camphor fire. People will put their hands into the camphor smoke and use this smoke the bless themselves, drawing it to their face and head. They will also bring more camphor pellets and add them to the fire, so that it stays lit for all to use. Vendors sell camphor all along the Pradakshina route.

This is as far as we got on foot this day. This is maybe 1 KM from the junction where the road to Velore comes into Tiruvannamalai. One of my heels felt like it was ready to blister, so we hailed an autorickshaw, and went to RamaKrishna Hotel for a great India Breakfast and Indian Milk coffee. Then back to home.