Arunachala – On the Inner Path: Southwest Side

This posting is the second in a series in which I will show some of the experience of walking Arunachala’s ‘Inner Path.’

The first posting shows the start of the walk from Sri Ramanasramam.

This posting continues with the walk where the initial posting ended, from the path near the access point where Perumpakkam Road meets Bangalore Road. This is the place where many walkers enter onto the Inner Path. This part of the Inner Path goes by the path up to Aum Amma’s and Papaji’s caves, by the Sadhu Tank, and ends at the Arunachala Reforestation station.

Previous postings show areas that can be reached while on this part of the Inner Path. Postings about Papaji’s cave can be found here and here. Aum Amma cave is shown here.  A posting about the ‘Holy Feet of God’, Tiruvadi, South of the Sadhu’s Tank, can be found here.

A map of Arunachala and the Outer Path is below. I have marked this map with a few landmarks we use, and with an approximate map of the first two sections of the Inner Path pradakshina (girivalam in Tamil) shown in this series.

The Southwest section of the path is in blue.

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The path starts after you go through the stone ‘gate’ leaving the first section. There is a ditch you walk through on the other side where the path starts. If it is full of water, there is an alternate to the right.

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Looking to Arunachala through the trees before we start walking on this section.

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Most of these photos were taken on a Sunday, and there were a few other people walking the path, including an elderly Indian couple that have lived for the last 30 years in Saratoga California, near where I lived, and who have heard of my spiritual teacher, Nome.

Many times during the week we will not see another person walking the Inner Path.

The path start winding through an area where trees provide a canopy.

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The path branches to the right here. Do no go straight here; you will go back to Bangalore road.

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Arunachala, the peak enshrouded in clouds.

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The path in gentle here, winding through trees towards the mountain.

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Now the path has turned East.  The tall trees on the right were planted I think 10 – 20 years ago. There were many of this kind of tree planted in this area, and on the Northeast side of the hill.

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Winding through this countryside. The red and white paintings are trail markers painted on stones. These are found all the way around the mountain to mark the Inner Path. Following these one should not get lost – just keep Arunachala to your right and keep walking.

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Now the path has turned back towards the mountain. It is more rocky here.

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Carol walking ahead of me.

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Arunachala  from the Inner Path, clouds at the top.

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Here is a marker for the path to Aum Amma’s and Papaji’s caves. Follow the path up the hill. Have good shoes, this is rocky and steep in parts.

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Continuing along the Inner Path. Now Parvati Hill, the small hill on the East end of Arunachala, with its two small peaks, is visible.

Note the stones lining both sides of the path. These are common in this section of the path. You will see them in many of the photos.

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Parvati Hill, looking of one of the several small lakes found in this section of the path. These are behind earth berms, and I think are intended to help bring water back into the underground water table. It is early monsoon season now, and there is some water in this tank, which has been dry for the summer months (starting in April).

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Again Arunachala in the clouds. This is from the berm shown above. Part way up the mountain, on the left side of the photo, a big rock formation is visible. This is where Aum Amma’s and Papaji’s caves are found.

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The path is pretty here, and lined with stones on both sides.

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Now winding through more trees. When the sun is out, these trees are much appreciated. Any shade is welcome. White and red trail markers are visible in the distance.

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Coming out of the trees, Parvati Hill is again visible.

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Back into the trees.

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Now to the right of the trail is a big rock. Often, in the tourist season, you will see groups, sitting on this rock.

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Early in the morning, you also may see a Sadhu, meditating.

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Walking through more trees.

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And finally we come to the Sadhu’s tank. This tank is, I am told, spring fed. What I have seen is that it has water all through the year, while most other tanks will dry out.

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It is early in the morning, and there are Sadhu’s bathing, washing their saffron cloths and spreading them out to dry.

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On the other side of the tank, there is a picturesque masonry arch, and a falling-down building.  This is where we saw the Sadhu bathing in the photo above.

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Now we follow the path once more through some trees.

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And we get to one of the Reforestation Project’s tree nurseries.

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Here is another stone gate, which marks the end of this section on the Inner Path.

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The next part of this series will start from here.

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