Walking Arunachala’s Inner Path From Our House


This is the first post in a few weeks. First I was traveling to the US to visit my family and spiritual teacher, Nome. Then after returning to Tiruvannamalai and making a post to update the story about the development near the Inner Path on the north of Arunachala, our trusty HP camera died. After finding out that good cameras cannot be found in Tiruvannamalai, yesterday we went to Chennai and bought new cameras. From now on I will be using a Nikon Coolpix 220 for the photos for the blog.

This post (to be made in two parts) shows the walk that Carol and I usually take every other day. We walk from our house on the west side of Arunachala to Hotel Ramakrishna on the east side, where we usually have breakfast. From there we have our rickshaw driver, Rajan, drive us home, so we walk 4 miles, half the way. This walk is along the north side of Arunachala, which I have shown in many posts.

Before we start, I usually go up to the roof, listen to a discourse from Nome, and sit and inquire for a bit. On walk days I usually start this about 4:30 AM.  This morning the moon was up, and Venus sat just above Arunachala, as can be seen below. 


By about 6 AM, the sky gets lighter. This time of year, this is about when we start walking.


We have three puppies now. These we kept out of a litter of six that were born just outside our gate. From the beginning the puppies have liked our yard. They would climb though the gate, and find shady places to lie down where they are safe. When their bones started to show we started to feed them, not wanting starving puppies. Their names are, from left to right, Pippi, Freckles, and Inky.

They try to follow us when we walk, but we growl at them and chase them back. They would like to go with us. They will be waiting for us when we come back, wagging their tails and excited that we have returned. 


Here is our house in the early morning light. The puppies can still (just) squeeze through the bars on the gate.


Arunachala from the front of the gate.


We walk down this dirt road.


Then onto Aham Road for a short bit.


When we get to Girivalam Road there are usually a few people at the chai stand. The dogs that walk with us on the Inner Path usually meet us here.


Through the gate is the path to the Inner Path.



This path goes by Nityananda’s ‘Dhyanapeetam’ which houses 1008 lingams.


They are all dressed with dhotis today. I guess they are dressed up for Divali, coming in a few days.


We pass by what is now called Kanapa Temple. This temple is from the 1800s and had fallen into disuse. A few years ago the people from Shantimalai Trust worked to restore this temple. They called it Kanapa Temple, after seeing a bas relief that showed a hunter. There is no reference that places Kanapa at Arunachala. However there is another ancient story said to have taken place at Arunachala that is said to provide a better explanation. Here is a verse from SIVA-MAHIMNAH STOTRAM, HYMN TO THE GLORY OF SHIVA in which Siva appears as a hunter to correct the misbehavior of Brahma.

0 Lord, the fury of You who became a hunter with a bow in hand has not as yet left Brahma–who, overcome by incestuous lust and finding his own daughter transforming herself into a hind, desired to ravish her in the body of a stag–and keenly pierced by Your arrows, he (Brahma) has fled to the sky.

Local legends say that there are two sites dedicated to Siva as the hunter who bested Brahma. One is a small primitive outdoor shrine near Kattu Siva tank on the Inner Path. The other is said to be this temple.


After the temple, we arrive at the Inner Path. We turn left here.


Carol and two of the three dogs that accompany us today walk up the Inner Path.


The east end of Parvati Hill rises above the Inner Path here.



The path is at the base of Parvati hill, and winds through what the locals call ‘jungle.’


This split in the path means that we are near the end of this section. Either branch can be taken. Note that one of the dogs tries (in vain) to mark the Inner Path as his territory.


Next, the area around the path opens up.


Here are the twin peaks of Parvati Hill.


Here is the eastern end of the hill. The rock in the foreground  is a nice place to sit.


Carol walks by a small house. This is the only structure near the Inner Path on the northside of the hill. Houses are not supposed to be built here. We sometimes see sadhus here.


Passing the end of Parvati Hill, we see the Arunachala peak. From this angle the peak is the upper part of what is called ‘The Elephant.’ Today clouds form at the peak.


More open area is passed through.


There is a herd of cows and bulls here. Many are in this herd, 20? 30? One cow is said to provide enough wealth that it can support a family. A herd of this size is great wealth.


Here is the Elephant, with its head enshrouded in clouds.


Parvati Hill again, above these pretty rocks.


Carol walks ahead of me through this open area. One of the dogs sits and waits for me. When I have the camera out, I move pretty slowly.


We are nearing the area that is being developed. We understand that it will be some kind of tree farm.


The development area is to the left, marked off by the stone posts.


Here is the small tank we call ‘the Frog Pond’ with Arunachala rising in the background.


In the shadows you can see a sadhu.


Carol walking ahead of me.


This stone wall is reinforcing the western end of the dirt barrier that creates the Northside Basin, which is the largest water catchment basin on this side  of the  mountain. They used these stones to reinforce it here, so if the basin overflows, the wall is not eroded.


Arunachala again, rising above us.


Some water is in the basin. Many animals drink here. You can see their foot and hoof prints near the water.


A closeup of the Elephant.


Parvati Hill again, seen through the branches of trees.


One of the dogs has found a nice soft place in the sand.

Walking past the east end of the basin.


The Inner Path winds through the jungle.


The sun is rising over Arunachala now. It is a bit after 7 AM.


Now there is nice light illuminating the Inner Path.


The jungle is sparse here, as the path goes up and down, crossing several stream beds. These streams have water in them only when it rains.


This dog is an Inner Path dog that has walked with us for maybe a year and a half. We call her “Tigger,” from the character from Winnie the Pooh. When she was younger she had a lot of bounce, like Tigger. Older now, there is less  bounce. 

Looking away from the mountain, there is a big area that is undeveloped. I hope it stays that way.


Following the path. There are many places where walls have been made from stones to reduce the erosion.


The early morning light seems particularly yellow to me.


Carol, still ahead of me, waiting at the top of this streambed.


The Arunachala peak.


The path goes on through the jungle.



Frequently you see the white and red Inner Path markers.


The Elephant again.


Carol waiting for me again.


This stone marks the halfway point. If you are walking girivalam from Ramanasramam on the inner path, this means you have done half of the walk.

One more look at the peak as we pass by.


Carol still ahead of me.


Now walking through the section of the Inner Path we call, “Trees,” for all the trees planted here maybe 20 years ago.


We come to these sweet stone steps that cut through two bushes. .


Now I used up all the battery charge, and I did not bring the second battery for my new camera. So this ends the first part of the photos of our usual walk.


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10 Responses to “Walking Arunachala’s Inner Path From Our House”

  1. Pavan Girotra Says:

    Sir,thank you so much for such a detailed narration,
    lots of love and gratitude,
    with regards,

  2. ramkumarhalo Says:

    can you say the day which you or anyothers going in Inner Path,So that I can join along..Can i have your mail id?

  3. ramkumarhalo Says:

    I need an help from you.
    Every Month on full moon ,I will come girivalam.
    But I wish to go in INNER PATH of Mountain.I asked some peoples, they are saying not possible. Though you are well known around the mountain, Can you help Me ?


    • richardclarke Says:

      I can help, maybe take you myself, or suggest a good guide. Let me know before you come again to Tiru.

  4. manchitra Says:

    I liked your photo blog. Yet to see other blogs. Recently i had made a trip to Tiruvannamalai so I could understand your blog clearly. Thank you. I write blogs on temples and may be if you find time you may visit mine at chitra-mypilgrimage.blogspot.com

  5. prasanthjvrs Says:

    Richard Ji,

    Welcome back to blog world.yet another great article and nice pictures of Arunachala Hill.

    You are a blessed devotee of Ramana Maharshi

    Om Namo Bhagavate Sri Ramanaya
    Prasanth Jalasutram

  6. drpvssnraju Says:

    Good morning Richards,Namaste grace is showering on you.Thank you so much.

    Alan Jacobs is there in Ashram,he is a great man.If you like kindly meet him.

    • richardclarke Says:

      Yes, I know Alan. He is a good man. He will be coming to my house next week to listen to a satsang from Nome.

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