Night Time on Arunachala’s Girivalam Road


When I recently purchased a new camera, as a part of the Diwali special, a tripod was included. Yesterday evening Carol and I went out on the scooter with the camera and tripod to see if we could get better photos at night with just the available light. This posting shows some of the pictures we took of Girivalam Road (Hill Round Road). These scenes are what a person might see walking after dark.

We started where Girivalam Road meets Bangalore Road. Right at the corner there is a small Ganesh Temple, shown below. It is lit, standing out in the dark. It is Saturday night, and there are a number of people walking. None are at this temple.


Next is a Siva Temple, next to a Marriage Hall. The priests were happy to see us, and let us take photos.



Outside the temple were two sadhus.


Next to the Temple is the Actress Viji Free Marriage Hall, which features Siva and Parvati sitting in front of the Himalayas.


Next is a small shrine. Locals call it a ‘women’s temple.’ Here there is no priest, just several woman who try to sell you ‘wish bags’ to tie to the tree in back of the shrine. Most wish bags are wishing for a baby.


Looking down Girivalam Road. Pools of  light show ahead, lit from the street lights. These street lights were installed several years ago as a gift from a famous Tamil actor, Rajinikanth, who played Siviji in Tamil movies. Once these lights were installed, the full moon nights started attracting the lakhs (one hundred thousands) of people that presently come for Arunachala Pradakshina (or girivalam) each full moon night.


This is a new Siva temple being built. So far there are no gods inside the building. The outer painting was just finished today.


This is the Nandi next to Soma Tirtam.



After Nandi is another small Ganesh temple, the Jyoti Vinayaka Shrine.


Across the street is another small shrine. This shrine usually has many wish bags tied to it.


Nandi faces the shrine.


This lingam is outside the shrine.


Inside is another lingam, nicely dressed.


The lingam inside this shrine has a face (not usual for a lingam).

Next is one of the eight major lingams that encircle Arunachala. this is Nirudhi Lingam, the southwest lingam.

Nirudhi is the king of the Asuras, or the demons, and he jointly rules the southern realm along with his friend, Yama. He is known to be the governor of the emotions and sentiments which create worldly desires in humans and enchain them to the cycle of birth and death.

By worshipping at Nirudhi Lingam in Arunachala, it is believed that he will counter-produce these emotions and actually help one in getting renouncement or detachment which is the way to liberation.

It is a bit off the road. It is well lit.  


There are many sadhus here, as well as people walking pradakshina.


Carol went into the inner chamber to view the Nirudhi Lingam.


She is being blessed by the priest. Now she will be able to renounce all her worldly desires.


Close up of Nirudhi Lingam with the priest standing outside.

Next, on the right, is a temple that I think is dedicated to Ramalinga Swami.


It is dark now, so not much can be seen inside. An oil lamp shines at the other end, near the main shrine, barely visible in the dark.


The Nine Planets, the Nava Grahas, are in the entry to the main shrine.


Down the street are a series of five temples, starting with this one on the left side. I think it is the Unnamalai Amman Mandapam.  This is another area in which one will always find a number of sadhus.


Two small shrines are ahead on the left, next to Unnamalai Amman Mandapam.


The first has much decoration. This is the holiday season here (which is really from Diwali to Deepam) so these decorations are not a surprise.


We can see inside to the main shrine.

Next is another altar to the nine planets, the Nava Grahas. Sahus sit around it.


Across the street, on the right hand side of the road, is the fourth temple in this set, the Hanuman Temple.


We can see inside. There are a number of sadhus here also.


The last of this set of shrines is for Sri Raghavendra Swamy. He is an influential 16th century Hindu saint who advocated Vaishnavism. Most other shines on the road are Saivite, so this in unusual for the Arunachala area. 



Next, on the left side, is what I think is the Palani Andavar Shrine. This is another shrine that often has visitors. You can see many tonight.

The priest brings camphor out to the group of visitors.


Across the street is the Nithyananda Dhyanapeetam, with its 1008 lingams. Nithyananda is a young sage who grew up in Tiruvannamalai. Many young people are drawn to him He has several ashrams in India and travels all over the world.


The last temple I show in this post is the Raja Rajeshwari Shrine, the temple of the Divine Mother. This is one of Carol’s favorites. I think she likes the image of Kali, holding her severed head in one hand. This is one way to cut off thoughts. 

Girivalam Road around Arunachala is loved by many people who see these temples and more each time they walk around Arunachala in the full moon. We chose a day with less foot traffic, so we could get better photos. I will probably do additional posts that show more of the temples and shrines along the girivalam route.

Well, I think the new camera and tripod are a success. I can take good photos after dark in available light. There will be more.


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One Response to “Night Time on Arunachala’s Girivalam Road”

  1. prasanthjvrs Says:

    nice photos richard ji.

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