Exploring Mountain Trails Near Pachaiamman Koil on the East Side of Arunachala


The most common request I hear about paths on Arunachala is for a route on the Inner Path that would bypass the city streets of Tiruvannamalai for the last leg of the walk. I have heard that Global Watch Trust has plans to build such a path. Carol and I went out recently to explore what the route might be. The photos in this posting were taken that day.

Below is a map that shows the Inner Path (in red), the Outer Pradakshina route (in orange), and the section of the mountain path we walked this day (in yellow). Also shown are a few landmarks, including Arunachaleswara Temple and Pachaiamman Koil.

The route proposed by Global Watch Trust will go low on the side of the Holy Hill, and pass above Turtle Cave (and Tortoise Rock), where Sri Ramana had what is called his “Second Death Experience,” and then go to Virupaksha Cave. We got about a quarter of the way this day.


We started the walk near Pachaiamman Koil, in the field to the left of the entrance.


In the left hand corner of that field there is a path leading through the trees. This is the route we took. We had explored here before, so we knew a bit about where we were going.



The path goes through a wooded area, where sometimes we walked and sometimes we climbed.



Coming out of the wooded area, on the right there is a path marked with white rocks going straight up the side of the hill. This is a fire trail, and is a very difficult walk up the hill. This is only recommended for those of you in great shape.


We head straight on the path, between a big rock on one side and a small hill on the other. Carol pauses to clip some thorns.


Looking up the Holy Hill, we see this big rock formation on the East side of Arunachala.


We head up the path. Here it is obvious where it goes. This is not true all the way today.


Atop the hill to the right there is a nice rock formation. I wonder if there are any caves here? It looks like there might be.


Looking back along the trail. The small spot of white between the two rocks is the gopuram of Pachaiamman Koil


Up the trail. This path around the city will have some uphill walking. I wonder how this climbing will be for those who have already walked 10 km?


We see the city beyond, in the distance.


Another view back down the trail, with Pachaiamman Koil just beyond the big rock.


Up the hill, we can see the Arunachala peak.


Here is a good view of the rock formation we saw earlier on the walk.


There are some trees here, planted by reforestation efforts. There is not much shade on this walk, and since it is on the east side of the mountain, in the morning and midday it is in full sun. This route will be pretty hot during most of the day (until more planting is done, and the trees have a few years to grow).


Rocks rise from the hill near where we walk.


There are a few old stone walls on the route.


This part of the walk is more open, and pretty flat.


Looking up towards the Arunachala peak again. I like this view. The rocky rise to the left of the peak is where Seven Springs is.


Looking down the hill, the city is all around in the background.


This rock formation may be another place to look for caves. Also, to the left of it, I see some kind of shrine, with white horse statues nearby. We will have to go check this out.


The city and a big water tank below us.


Ahead of us is a ridge we have to climb over to go any further. Maybe more caves, too. More exploration is definitely called for.


The peak again.


Maybe the way over the ridge is up the rocky cut that angles up and to the left?


We tried to walk further, but it got pretty rough, and we did not have the walking sticks we use when we are climbing Arunachala. We will come back and try again on another day. And we will bring our walking sticks.

One last look up to the peak, and then we head back.


We are happy with this day’s exploration. We have gotten into an area that is new for us, and one that is rarely visited by Westerners. More of the hill  to explore!

We also got a bit of a preview of the possible route over the hill from Pachaiamman Koil to Virupaksha Cave. We see that it will be doable, that there can be a good route to walk. There will be two issues though: Climbing up the hill after walking 10 km or so, and the ever-present sun. These two issues may make this route difficult for all but the most avid Path walkers.

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6 Responses to “Exploring Mountain Trails Near Pachaiamman Koil on the East Side of Arunachala”

  1. Vignesh Murugan Says:

    Dear Richards,
    i feel so happy to know this kind of hill way inside our arunachala mountain so its create a revolution for each and every visitors who wants to trek inside the mountain to move around the every side of mountain…so its a awesome work done by urs and global watch trust…

    thanks for exploring our Arunachala siva…

  2. ereuthe Says:

    Dear Richard, thank you for sharing this exploration with us. It feels like we are there with you at Arunachala! Excellent pictures and wonderful to consider walking around Arunachala without going into town. thank you for your explorations. Elizabeth

  3. vpsrao Says:


    thank you very much for your exploration and sharing your experience. hopefully, the global watch trust will embark on the project soon.

  4. shivayashiva Says:

    Great pictures it must have been a great experience too. Thanks for sharing.

  5. drpvssnraju Says:

    Dear Richards,
    Arunachala Siva is using your upadhi for this noble work.
    You are blessed.

    • richardclarke Says:

      WE know that we live blessed with Arunachala’s grace. No more blessing is possible.

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