Arunachala’s Inner Inner Path – Part One


There are several pradakshina (or ‘girivalam’ in Tamil) routes around Arunachala. The two that are best known are the Outer Path, which follows the roads through Tiruvannamalai and around the mountain, and the Inner Path, a dirt trail closer to Arunachala. On the north side of Arunachala we have found a series of paths between the Inner Path and Arunachala. We think of these as the “Inner Inner Path.” They show on the map below. If you look closely at it you will see a number of yellow-colored paths on the north side of Arunachala, between the red-colored Inner Path and the rising hill.

We have walked a bit on most of these segments of the path, but have not yet been able to put them all together. This is one of our objectives, to find the Inner Inner Path on the ground, and find out how to connect all the different segments. We think when we are finished with this, you can take the path up and over the hill from the Kattu Siva area, and then complete the north side walk without ever getting to the Inner Path. Rather, you will walk on the Inner Inner Path, closer to Arunachala. On this route you will have even more solitude, since we have never seen another person on any of these trails.


After some backtracking on the start of the Inner Inner Path (IIP), we were able to find out exactly where it meets the path over the hill. With a bit of work to cut thorns away (the path seems mainly to be used by cows, who walk under much of the brush), we have been able to create a clear route to start the IIP.

Today we will be on a pretty good path until we get to what I call the ‘Northside Overlook.’ From there back to the Inner Path, we are still working out the details. You can do this walk yourself, and get on the Inner Inner Path. Here you may have to go a bit cross-country though. Not too hard, but it’s a little more rugged than staying on the Inner Path.


Looking from the path over Arunachala you can see the forested area we will walk through. We will walk by the two big rocks that protrude through the forest in the center of the picture.


Near the bottom of the path, there is a big, obvious palm. The turnoff for the path is a bit before this palm.


I made a small marker of rocks.


Turn to the right on the path through the brush.


Now you are on the Inner Inner Path!


On the way we pass by a tree, now covered with light yellow flowers. This was not blooming one week ago when we were looking at how dry the area is, waiting for the monsoon. We still haven’t had much rain, but that didn’t stop this tree from flowering.


HPIM4469 crop 

We cross a rocky stream bed.


The path continues on the other side. It is about 6:30 in the morning now. Any of the photos going east (our direction of travel) will be affected by the low morning sun. You will see glare in a number of the photos below, anything to the east of the camera.


We head towards a small tree.


From here we can look around. In the center left of this photo you can see the gopuram of Adi Anamalai Temple.

HPIM4498 closeup

Looking back west towards the foot of Parvati Hill.


Ahead on the path we can see the big rocks rising through the trees.


We are closer to them now.


The path is pretty good here. It passes just south of the big rocks.


These rocks are about twenty feet high and split. You can see how the two pieces once fit together.

You can get to these rocks (and the IIP) from the Northside Basin. Look at North side of Arunachala – Under the loving gaze of The Elephant to see how to get there.


As I look up the hill, I see a number of these yellow blooming trees.


The path continues, here going by another big rock.


Along the way it is not a great path, but mostly we can make it out.




Looking towards Arunachala again, more yellow trees.


The rocky path keeps going parallel to the mountain side.


We are on a small rise and can see around us. Here we look north.


The path keeps going through the trees and brush. Here it is going up a bit of a hill.


Carol walks ahead.


One thing that we love about this path is that we get yet another perspective of Arunachala. Here is the peak, seen from this side as the head of The Elephant. Between us and the peak are some of the ridges and faces of Arunachala, not well seen from other angles of vision.

As we follow the path and get near to the overlook described in this post, and shown on the second map above as ‘Northside Overlook’ we are less sure where the trail goes. To finish this route, we went around the rocky promontory that encloses this side of the hill. We more or less followed the mountain until we came back to the Inner Path. We will have to go back again and trace out just how this part of the IIP really goes. We did follow various paths to get down to the Inner Path, I am just not sure if we took the best route.


Several creeks come from the hill here. Stone water breaks have been built on them, to restrain the erosion that happens in a strong rain. The path goes over this one.


A rock rises a few feet above the path. Usually these are good places to climb up and look around.


Looking back and west to Parvati Hill.


In many places the path is just a low tunnel through thorns and brush. A cow can get through fine, but not a  person. We stop and get our clippers and cut our way through. This pass will last a number of months before it grows back, so there will be an OK trail for the next year or so.


This path was cut through about 15 feet of thick thorns. Without the clippers we would  have needed to find another way.


My hand is a little cut up, but not too bad.


Here is another view of The Elephant. I love this, being able to see Arunachala from different angles and seeing new views.


Looking back towards the mountain. We just walked through this.


Ahead we see power lines. Here this means we are back to the Inner Path.


About one and a quarter hours until we get to Hotel Ramakrishna and ghee dosas and Indian coffee for breakfast!

Related Posts:

A Path Across Arunachala
North side of Arunachala – Under the loving gaze of The Elephant
Adi Annamalai Temple 
Inner Path – The Elephant


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3 Responses to “Arunachala’s Inner Inner Path – Part One”

  1. karthik681 Says:

    I want to ask you, is it safe to go alone in this path like in the mornings and the evenings before 6 pm.

    • richardclarke Says:

      I think it should be fine. I see many people, men and women, walking alone. If you are early, I am sure it is even better.

  2. rpodury Says:

    Dear Richard


    Ramana Sarma

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