We spent the last year exploring the southwest and south sides of Arunachala. Now, after moving further around the Holy Hill, we are closer to the north side, and for the next months we will be doing more explorations on this side of the mountain.
The north side is not as well known as the side of Arunachala around Ramanasramam and Arunachaleswara Temple. We had found ‘mountain guides’ that could take us into unknown areas on the well known side (if we needed help). On the north side so far we have not found any skillful guides, so just have to explore ourselves. This adds to the sense of discovery.
To help us in this search, I have used Google Earth, and tried to find and mark trails and landmarks. Below is a view of the map I am developing.
Below is a close up of the area that is covered in this posting. The big tree is near the center of the map. You can see that the trails go further up Arunachala – we do not yet know just how far up they go. The promontory is to the left, between two trails.
This is a closeup of what is mainly the section of the Inner Path we call “The Elephant.” The tank we call the Northside Basin is in blue to the left. Trails I have found in the satellite photo (and sometimes have verified by walking) are shown in olive color. The Inner Path is in red.
Recently we have been exploring the area in the center of this map. After you pass by the Northside Basin, there is a rock promontory that juts out from Arunachala.
Here it is from afar, to the left of The Elephant’s trunk:
As you get closer and closer it becomes the main nearby feature of the Holy Hill.
We have been exploring on the other side of this promontory.
When we first went into this area we saw village women carrying down bundles of long grass stems. They were coming down the trail on the other side of the promontory. We went into this area and were able to get a good shot of this side of the promontory. With the rocks here it is quite picturesque.
The satellite photo shows a path that goes a lot further up the mountain. We will get to know this area better in the next few months.
To the left (from the photo), there is another small ridge. I have been exploring in this area a couple of times. In it I have found the biggest tree I have found so far, and what looks like the base of another trail that goes further up onto Arunachala. A part of this shows in pink on the map, since I really am not sure of the trail.
I got to this, starting from the post that marks the start of the “Trees” section of the Inner Path.
The Inner Path goes straight ahead. I turned to the right, and looked back towards the area from which I had just come. There is another post that marks another trail.
The rocks atop the promontory can be seen from the trail.
In the distance, a tree rises above the rest of the forest.
Following the trail, I get closer …
And closer …
Until I get to a rocky clearing, where this tree rises from the left.
To the right, amidst the rocks, looks like another trail up the gentle hillside.
Before I get too far up the trail, I see a big rock, with what might be what passes for a cave around here (a sheltered area under a rock).
I climb up the rock to get a view of the surrounding countryside.
Here is the big tree:
Arunachala above me, the peak enshrouded with clouds…
…and the area surrounding the Inner Path on this part of it. The forested area between the Inner Path and Pradakshina Road is in the center of the photo, with buildings that line Pradakshina Road visible in the distance.
The satellite photo shows two or three trails that go from this area further up Arunachala. These will be explored in future postings.