In 2008, we often started walking along the Southwest side of Arunachala where we lived at that time. Looking at the mountain, we thought that a short cut across a low pass might be possible. We first walked to the area, explored and found a path part of the way up the pass. We forced our way up to the top the fiest day, following the creek bed, but did so by pushing our way through bushes and brush, many of which have thorns. After this we realized we needed improved tools. So we had some garden pruning shears sent to us from the USA, and then spent a few days trying to make this path more walkable. This posting shows the result of this effort.
After the thorn cutting was done, we can now climb more easily to the top of the pass and down to the other side. A warning though for anyone else that might try to take this path. Parts of it could be difficult if your legs, knees and ankles are not in good condition. Much of the ‘path’ up a dry creek bed that cascades down the mountain when it rains. Do not try this when in has been raining.
Orientation to the path
Here is an Arunachala map where I have marked some of this area. Both sides of the hill are shown, since the path goes from one side to the other. Double click the map to see it in a larger view.
A close up of the area is below. the Inner Path is in red, tanks are in blue. The path across Arunachala starts from the Hand Water Pump and heads up, to the north. Turn towards Arunachala, follow the trail towards the mountain.
This path follows a creek bed up to the top, then a trail down the North side of the hill. It more or less follows the creek. Depending which branch is taken it goes to what I call the Frog Pond, or to the Northside Basin. created by a broad berm that catches water during the rainy season.
On the map above, Arunachala, the main mountain is the the right, with Parvati Hill, a small hill to the left on the west side. Between Arunachala and Parvati, there is a small hill that joins them. You can see this from the photo, below. Parvati Hill is to the left, Arunachala to the right. The path is on the right side of the hill between them, the lowest of the two passes.
Early morning start
This is May, the hottest month of the year. We start early. This day it about 6:30 and the sun is rising over Arunachala.
Turn off Pradakshina Road, take path to Reforestation Station
We walk past Bangalore Road to Pradakshina Road (Girivalam Road). Across from a small temple where they sell wish bags that can be hung on the temple wishing tree. The want Rs 20 from Westerners. The sign shown below is one other landmark for this path.
Up the path towards the mountain
Sun rising over Arunachala from this path.
Past Kattu Siva Tank – the Sadhu Tank
Sadhus sleep at this tank, and in the early morning they (and others from this area) wash themselves and their clothes. Often you will see a saffron dhoti stretched out, drying in the sun.
There are other places near here where you can see the sadhus meditating in the morning.
To the Reforestation Station
As we walk towards the hill, we pass by Arunachala Kattu Siva Plantation. This is one of the important groups that is doing valuable reforestation work on Arunachala. Look on their website, at the bottom of the home page, for a ‘before and after’ picture that shows the results of the effort.
Turn right and walk towards the mountain
Take the left branch of the path
Keep walking towards the hill.
During part of this section, it is not always clear where the path is. Just keep going uphill, generally following the creek bed. The path starts to the left of the creek, then goes to the right, then up the creek bed when it gets steeper.
The path near the top goes up the creek bed
It is rocky and steep in places.
Much cutting to prune back many thorns
Carol and Richard get much work, clearing back brush, and especially thorns. Many thorns line the way, some are nasty. If your look closely you will see that my shirt is soaking wet from sweat by now.
Carol cutting away.
Richard cutting path through thorn bushes
There are many bloody spots from the thorns. They fight back. Many times the hand is more bloody than today.
At the top of the pass
Looking toward Arunachala. While at the level of the pass, one cannot really get much of a view. We found another path going toward Parvati that took us up to the ridgeline of the hill between the two hills.
Adi Anamalai seen from top of the pass
This blown-up photo shows a view of Adi Anamalai visible through the brush that surrounds the path leading down.
The path down the North side is much better than the one up the other side. If you take it and bear left, it will take you to the ‘Frog Pond.’ If you go straight, you get to the reservoir. There is also a very nice shaded area behind a water retaining wall where one can stop, rest, and maybe eat a snack – and be out of the sun. (This is important during the Summer months.)
You can see both ways
Looking back towards Tiruvannamalai
We found another path going toward Parvati that took us up to the ridgeline of the hill between the two hills. This is one of the few places where you can see both sides of Arunachala Hill. From here one gets a wonderful panoramic view.
Here we see the Southwest side. ON this side there is a large forested area between Arunachala and Girivalam road. the buildings to the right are on this road.
Looking North, towards Adi Anamalai
Looking North is another big area without buildings. A brushy low forest is close to the hill, and farm fields and cattle grazing between this forest and the road. Adi Anamalai is hidden behind a tree.
Below is the view looking Northeast. More to explore.
This path gives another way from the Southwest side to the Northside. The view from the top is wonderful.
I am not sure this works as a ‘shortcut’ since it is more work going over the pass. It is not too much of a climb, though, only about 60 meters. Still this is like walking up 24 flights of stairs.