To the top of Arunachala’s Northside Promontory


The north side of Arunachala is not as well known as the areas above Ramanasramam and Arunachaleswara Temple. In those areas you can find mountain guides that can show you anything you want to see. On the northside, we have found no one who can guide us. So here we explore on our own.

For months we have wanted to climb up the trail on the east side of the Northside Promontory. We have gone part of the way, scouting it out, but had never made it all the way, until just a few days ago. This post shows photos from our last two trips up the trail to this spot above the Inner Path that has a wonderful view of the whole north side of Arunachala.  

Here is a map of the area.


As you come around Parvati Hill, and get to the Northside Basin and look towards ‘The Elephant’, at the base of Arunachala there (to the left in the photo below) is a promontory that extends out from the mountain. This is where we are going. We have walked past this more than 100 times, and have wanted to climb up the trail to it for the last year. Today we are going to make this walk.


There is a place where the power pole is right at the Inner Path. This is where the trail up the hill starts.


It is a pretty good trail, used not by Westerners or people walking pradakshina, but rather this is a main trail for village ladies who use the materials they gather from the hillside. Sometimes you will see ladies in sarees carrying bundles balanced on their heads walking down the trail.



As we climb the trail up Arunachala, the Elephant watches over us.


On the lower slopes the trail cuts through fairly dense brush and thorns.


As it starts climbing, the trail is more rocky.



There is a rock formation we pass that I think is beautiful.


Climbing with the Elephant above. Notice that Carol has her walking stick. We find these very useful when we are exploring and going up and down the mountain side.


There are usually dogs with us. There are several dogs that often walk the Inner Path with us.


More of the rocks atop the promontory.


Looking at the trail up the hill. There is a stream bed to the left, greener and lined with trees.


We are going to take the branch of the trail that goes up to the right and to the top of the promontory.


We are pretty high above the level of the surrounding area.


As I look over the stream bed, I see something interesting. 


In this blow-up photo, you can see what looks like a banyan tree rising out of the brush above a flat rock. This fits the description of Ramana’s banyan tree. I wonder if this is it?

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Looking up the mountain from the top of the promontory.


And looking 360 degrees around. First is Parvati Hill.

We are higher than either of the two passes that go over the mountain between Parvati Hill and Arunachala.


The open area in front of Parvati Hill. Houses in the background are in Adi Anamalai village.


Continuing to sweep the camera to show the view from the top of the promontory. Where you see buildings is the road used for the Outer Path.



Now back up the mountain.


To the top.


You can see here that this is another creek that cuts into the side of the hill. I bet there are more trails that go into this area. More to explore someday.


Here is a small tree growing out of the rock. The bark looks very old. The tree could be a hundred years old or more, but stunted in its growth by the lack of soil in the crack in the rock from which it grows.


Looking down the front of the promontory you can see a small white box. You can also see this as you pass the area on the Inner Path.

Instead of following the trail back down, we decide to go “cross country” down to this white box to see just what it is.


Here comes Carol, stick in hand. Going downhill, the stick is very useful.


The going is a little difficult, but with the walking stick for support it is OK.


You can see the white box here, center right.


Carol gets there first, and looks inside.

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Looking up over the rocks to Arunachala.


Here is the back side of the box.


I look in, and it is empty. Someone has taken the idol that was in this shrine. What a shame.


So, exploring done, we head down to the Inner Path.



Another good day exploring Arunachala.

I loved being here. There is a wonderful view. I also think that it is kind of a trailhead for a set of trails that go further up the hill, and across the promontory back down the other side. More exploring to do! And I sure wonder about what looked like a banyan tree. We must get a closer look.



8 Responses to “To the top of Arunachala’s Northside Promontory”

  1. S. Arunachalananda (@Arunachalananda) Says:

    Inner exploration is of corse the best but at some point of jnana the bhakti rises like a firestorm and this love pulls us to beloved Arunachala and leaves us no choice!
    With Love Shankara

    • Richard Clarke Says:

      For me this point was when I really started to know where Sri Ramana’s words come from. He is not a body, the words are not of ego. So what is the source?

  2. Vikas Nanda Says:

    Dear Richard
    i can not express the delight i get by seeing the various aspects of Arunachala with your eyes ! you are truly a gift to people like us who love Arunachala but are not able to see its various aspects thank you very much for all the wonderful photos and views
    with greart regards

    • Richard Clarke Says:

      It has been our blessing to be able to explore and photograph as we have. I feel like these postings are a part of our service – seva – to Arunachala.

  3. arunachalaheart Says:

    Dear Richard,

    An amazing post. I am now absolutely certain that one day all of us will see the banyan tree through your eyes.

    The banyan tree in this post however I think is not the one Ramana mentioned. It is much higher and much more ‘inaccessible’ in the memoirs words.

    It has to be a tree which apprently arises out from a flat rock with leaves large enough to serve meals on.


  4. satvicfood Says:

    Richard, i am sending you a personal email w more information on this tree. drpvssnraju is right!

  5. drpvssnraju Says:

    Dear Clarke,
    Bhagawan discouraged physical exploration of northern side

    of hill and banyan tree even for people like Muruganar.He encouraged

    inner exploration because we are born to do that.

    • richardclarke Says:


      I deeply respect what you say. And yet I feel called by Arunachala, and that what we do is of service to Arunachala.

      Certainly the inner exploration is what is best.

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