Secrets of Arunachala – Kattu Siva Cave


Recently I found out about another cave near the Kattu Siva area, then, after visiting it, found out that it was Kattu Siva’s cave, where he lived for many years.

Kattu Siva is a saint that lived on Arunachala in the last century. Kattu means ‘jungle’. Not much is recorded about him. He wore only a loin cloth, forsaking the traditional saffron robes of a renunciate as self-ornamentation. He also would not wear vibhuti, ash, as is usual for a Siva devotee. He lived in a cave under a rock, next to Arunachala. An ashram formed around him, and an ashram building was constructed next to what is now known as the Kattu Siva Tank in Tiruvannamalai, near the Girivalam Road. He would meditate in a chamber under this ashram.

To locate this area for you, here is a photo of the West end of Arunachala. Parvati Hill is on the the left. Between Parvati Hill and Arunachala is a small hill. The Siva Kattu area is here, towards the rightmost ‘pass’ over the hill.

Parvati Hill end of Arunachala

On the map below, the Kattu Siva area is shown as ‘B’, Sadhu Tank, and is where the Inner Path section for the southwest side ends.

Arunachala markers and inner  path copy 2 copy

One way to get to this area is to take the path from Girivalam Road. This is shown as a dotted line on the map above. The sign below marks the start of this path.

Siva Kattu area sign

Walk up the trail, perhaps .5 km. To the left is the Arunachala Kattu Siva Plantation. My wife, Carol, is walking ahead of me. It is early in the morning before the sun has come to this area, when these first photos were taken, so they are not a bright as they could be.


Turning left through the gate, you can see a pump and a small pond.


The International Tree Foundation built this deep well for the Arunachala Kattu Siva Plantation, with a small pond where today water lilies grow and bloom.


Turn right, and walk between the thatched huts towards Arunachala.


When the path forks, take  the fork to the right.


After this, you pretty much just follow the path. This path is easy to walk, and is just a short trek from the Plantation.


We walk through the trees.


Here is what I think is a termite mound. In many places, local tribal people have these decorated as shrines.


Sun is starting to brighten the area.


We continue down the path.


Then there is an earth berm for a water catchment basin, with a stone stairway leading up it.


At the top are tall plants with nice 4 inch flowers blooming.


Looking across the catchment basin toward the hill between Arunachala and Parvati Hill.


Looking towards Arunachala. The big rock with a flat top is our destination. The peak is not visible, we are too close to this ridge.


We walk across the berm, into an open area. After a bit, we notice what looks like a path through the brush.


Before we proceed up the path, we look back to Parvati Hill, now in the sunlight.


Up the path. This part of the path is made from rocks brought to this location.


Around a bend.


And the path opens up ahead of us.


We walk into a big area, where it has been cleared and rock walls made from the rocks that were cleared. In the middle stands a grove of three trees. These tree provide great shade during the heat of the day.



Across the clearing we see a hole under the biggest rock. Is this the cave?


Yes it is. Here is Richard climbing into the cave.


Sitting inside I can see rock and cement work that was done to make the cave dry during the rain, and to provide more shelter when in the cave. This kind of rock and cement work, we have found, is common in caves here that have been used for long periods by sadhus and holy people.

A big rock has fallen into the cave, so there is not presently a good sleeping place on the ground in the cave. The dirt floor is dry, even though there has been much rain recently. I have heard that the people at the Arunachala Kattu Siva Plantation plan to remove this rock.


Looking out of the cave.


To the back of the cave there is a shelf built of concrete. It looks like  it has a headrest, a stone ‘pillow’, so it is a sleeping shelf.


After we got out of the cave, we climbed the big rock and were greeted with a wonderful view of the area. Here we look at Parvati Hill, with its two peaks. Between this rock and the hill is the forest that now covers this area.


Looking towards the Southwest in the foreground can be seen a small pond full of water. A Cement dam has been constructed around  the side of the rock to catch the water. From this view more of the forest on the Southwest side of Arunachala can been seen.


Looking down towards the catchment basin.


Another view on the cement pond. Behind the rock is Arunachala hill. On this side of the hill there are many big rocks on that rise above the forest.


Looking back towards the pass between the hill and Arunachala.


Looking towards Arunachala. Some of the rocks seem like natural  lingams.


A close-up on one of these  rocks. On another day we will try to get to this rock. Perhaps there is a cave here.  Maybe we can climb it and sit and meditate.


We climbed down the rock and returned to the clearing.


We do like this place and know we will return many times.


Before we go, we look back into the clearing, now  filled  with sunlight.


Back on the path, looking towards Parvati Hill.


Looking over the water in the catchment basin.


We walk  over the berm to the rock stairway down.


One last  look over the lake and through the trees to the flat rock where Kattu Siva’s cave  is.


As we walk back, the sun lights the way. Here is a clearing in the woods, the ground cover nicely green from the recent rains.


On the way back, Carol needs to get her pruning shears out and clip back some thorns.


Walking back, we pass the Kattu Siva tank, maybe 100 feet from the path. The remains of the Ashram are next to this tank.


In the morning the sadhus bathe and wash their saffron robes.  We try to be careful not to disturb them.

Sadhus washing at Sadhu tank

Finding this cave, discovering more history of this area, and a bit about Kattu Siva, we have found another place we want to visit again and again where we can sit and meditate and enjoy the holy ambiance with which Arunachala is infused. And this place has the shade of trees so we can enjoy it when the sun is full.

We ended our walk with a stop by Arunai  Ananta, a ‘3-star’ hotel nearby, and enjoyed a large Indian milk coffee and talked about the day’s discoveries.

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10 Responses to “Secrets of Arunachala – Kattu Siva Cave”

  1. Murali Hr Says:

    very good effort – hope u visit the cave of ur heart which is more easy than climbing the hill and looking for jnanis.
    the ggreatest jnani abides in the cave of the heart

  2. DIVAS Says:

    Reblogged this on abc – an opinionated & politically incorect[sic] blog.

  3. Matt Toerien Says:

    Thanks Richard.Very interesting. How about some pics of the new cave- I would love to see it plus the underground chamber. I would love to live in Amma’s cave , but the authorities wouldn’t let me I suppose. How about if i bribed them ? They also wouldn’t let me put up a tent on the mountainside would they ? My Guru is Sri Sarada. Have you met her ? I have a few times . Is She seeing devotees yet ? My Mantra is Arunachala, or am I supposed to keep this secret ? How are you coping with the blocked off inner path ? Its a terrible thing. WHY have they done it. You should take a petition to them or stage a protest rally outside their offices. Please say hello to David Godman for me if you know him.
    Regards, Matt.

  4. K.R.ANANDH (@kranandh) Says:

    Actually, in kattu siva cave, one holy jnani and mahan lived there for 12 years. His name is Kozhanthai anandha swamigal. Finally, one day he merged with arunachala jothy like sri ramana maharishi.

  5. Matt Toerien Says:

    I was amazed by this wonderful forest because it simply wasn’t there when I last visited which was in 2001.Nor were the ponds.How wonderful ! I would like to live there in my tent.
    Regards , Matt.

  6. Caves of Arunachala – July 2009 Update | Luthar.Com: HarshaSatsangh Says:

    […] This cave is shown in the post Kattu Siva Cave. […]

  7. Caves of Arunachala | Luthar.Com: HarshaSatsangh Says:

    […] This cave is shown in the post Kattu Siva Cave. […]

  8. tapas Says:

    Are you still in Arunachalam? would love to meet you the next time I visit.

  9. Arunachala - On the Inner Path: Parvati Hill | Luthar.Com: HarshaSatsangh Says:

    […] this area, you can also walk to the Kattu Siva Cave, or take a Path Across […]

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