During the years that Sri Ramana Maharshi stayed at Virupaksha Cave (1899 – 1916), he would go down to Mango Tree Cave (Mamara Guhai) during the summer months, when no water was available at Virupaksha. Ramanujacharya and Rangacharya modified Mango Tree Cave and made it habitable for Ramana.
Mango Tree Cave can be found by walking up to Virupaksha Cave, taking the main route straight up the hill.
Here is a map the general area (developed from Google Earth tm). Skandashram is to the left, Arunachaleswara Temple to the right. Mango Tree Cave and Virupaksha Cave are in the center. (Double click to see a larger view)
Here is a close-up of the area. This area has a number of interesting spots, including Guhai Namashivaya Shrine and Palamaram Ashram.
The road / path up to Mango Tree Cave is across from Arunachaleswara Temple, near the northwest corner. Here is the temple from the road leading up the hill.
The road is narrow going up the hill.
The road gets much steeper.
A number of temples and shrines are passed going up the hill.
The road turns into stone steps the rest of the way.
Below, another shrine. The accompanying signs are only in Tamil writing, so we can’t identify the name of this one.
Turning around a corner, we can see Mango Tree cave.
I think this is Mother Kundalini, standing with Ganesh outside Mango Tree Cave.
Seven painted gods, in a wire cage at the entrance.
The figure above the entrance of the cave usually shows who the shrine is dedicated to. I think this one is Annapurna.
Annapurna is an incarnation of the Hindu Goddess Parvati, the wife of Shiva. Annapurna is empowered with the ability to provide food to an unlimited amount of people. Temple art in India often depicts Lord Shiva with his begging bowl (skull), asking Annapurna to provide him food that gives the energy (Shakti) to achieve Self-knowledge and enlightenment.
As such, Annapurna also symbolizes the divine aspect of nourishing care. The cook provides his guests with the energy to best follow their destiny. When food is cooked with a spirit of holiness, it becomes alchemy. Images of Annapurna are also found in kitchens, near dinner tables and in restaurants.
From this, it seems the Mango Tree Cave is dedicated to the goddess, in one of Her many forms.
To one side of Mango Tree Cave, there is a five-headed Hanuman.
There is also this shrine. Note the sadhu, sitting to the left of the door.
At the entrance to Mango Tree Cave, there are these Tiruvadi, Siva’s feet.
Inside the building, first you walk through an area where the attendant, Swamy Janardhanan, lives with his wife.
I am unsure what god this figure is. I have checked listing of vahanas, or mounts, and the only female on a donkey I see is Kali, and this sure does not look like Kali.
Above the door are many holy pictures.
Through the door is a small space, with a very low rock ceiling. There is open space in the middle of the floor. The cave space is filled with many statues of gods.
Here is a nicely painted Nandi at the doorway.
Durga, riding her tiger.
Narasimha, the Great Protector, an avatar of Vishnu.
Krishna, with his flute.
Not sure who these three female figures are, with crawling babies in front.
Three well dressed goddesses line one wall.
Is this Annapurna? Is that a spoon in her hands?
The main lingam, with a cobra, a Naga, sheltering and protecting it.
Swamy Janardhanan, sitting.
Swamy Janardhanan and his wife standing by a door in the building.
Through the trees in front of Mango Tree Cave, you can see the big temple.
Mango Tree Cave is one of the many spiritual sites on the east side or Arunachala near Arunachaleswara Temple. It makes sense, given the ancient temple and nearby holy mountain, that this area would have been used by saints and sadhus for the last two thousand years. A few of these saints and sadhus are remembered today. I think most have been forgotten, but somehow, Arunachala still holds them to its heart and brings them to our hearts. One must just have a heart that is open to them.