In many places, Arunachala’s Inner Path goes some distance away from the mountain. Months ago, my wife, Carol, had the idea, “There must be a path closer to Arunachala.” We examined the satellite photos on Google Maps, talked to people, and went out and looked to see what we could find. It turns out that there are many paths (though many of these are really cow paths). So we explored and gradually came up with a route for the first section of what we call the ‘Inner Inner Path.’ Over the last few weeks, some Indian men (mainly Saran and his friend, Mani) have been working to improve the primitive path whose route we found.
Now the work is done, and today we ‘officially’ opened the Inner Inner Path. This posting shows the opening ceremony. In this post, I want it to be as if you were with us today for the puja, so I show it in some detail. The next post will show the first walk along the newly opened path.
Location of the Inner Inner Path
Here is a map, made using Google Earth, that shows Arunachala, with the Outer Path (in gold), the Inner Path (in red), and the new Inner Inner Path (and other mountain paths, in yellow).
The Inner Inner Path starts on the north side of Arunachala.
The first 2 km starts after you pass Parvati Hill. The path then goes along the base of Arunachala, then comes out back onto the Inner Path.
Getting to the Inner Inner Path
It was a bit before 7 Am when I left my house. The day started with clouds over Arunachala.
I met Saran and Mani at the chai stand by Girivalam Road, at the entrance to the path to Kannapa Temple. Three other men, two Westerners and one Indian man, were also joining us for the opening ceremonies today. And Tigger came with us.
We started walking to the new path.
We are getting closer. You can see the Arunachala peak in the background.
Now we are at the new path. Someone has laid rocks across the old Inner Path route. Mani is removing these rocks.
Puja to open the path
Mani and Saran start to set out the puja.
A lingam has been placed nearby. We borrowed it for the puja. Saran is placing betel leaves and betel nuts (pan) in front of the lingam.
Bananas are next.
A ghee lamp is set out and lit.
Lemons are cut, sliced in quarters, and placed by the lingam.
Water is poured over the lingam, the first of the ritual baths.
Incense is lit.
Then the incense is offered to the lingam.
And to Arunachala.
The incense is finally placed near the lingam. Next, lemon juice is squeezed onto the lingam.
Here is the outdoor altar for the puja with what has been done so far.
Sandalwood powder is dropped onto the lingam.
Incense is again offered.
Then another bath washes the sandalwood powder off.
Vibhuti is rubbed onto the lingam. Then kum kum dots are added.
Flowers are added.
What a beautifully decorated lingam!
Camphor is put into one lemon, then turmeric power is dropped onto the lingam.
Before we can go further, the names of the gods and siddhas must be invoked. Saran chants, and Mani follows, with a chant of 108 names of gods and siddhas. They include Siva, Hanuman, and Sri Ramana Maharshi. The gods and siddhas are asked to protect those who walk this path.
A camphor flame is lit, offered to the lingam.
Then to Arunachala.
We each get to offer the flame. Here am I with it.
For the lingam.
Offering the flame to Arunachala.
Then Saran lights the camphor placed in the lemon.
He places the camphor on the path, and squeezes lemon juice onto the path.
A coconut is broken, and added to the altar. There is also puffed rice, which will be given to every one attending the puja, even Tigger.
We are now ready for the ribbon cutting.
The ribbon is cut.
And now the Inner Inner Path is open!
The next post will show the first walk along the newly opened Inner Inner Path.