Expanding Girivalam Road Around Arunachala

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On big nights, such as the New Year’s Full Moon Night, upwards of 1.5 million people come to Tiruvannamalai to walk pradakshina around Arunachala. The number of walkers is so great that at times the walk comes to a halt because there are just too many people for the road. To improve the flow for the walkers, a wide sidewalk was added from Ramana’s Bridge to where Girivalam Road meets Velore Road. Now this sidewalk is being expanded to go the entire length of Girivalam Road. We took a few photos to show the project, and the progress so far.

A few days ago, I noticed pieces of concrete pipe being placed along Girivalam Road. I thought that they were going to do something to improve the culverts where water flows under the road. I was dreading this, since they do such a poor job of refinishing the road after such work. But then I started seeing the digging beside the culvert, and laying the two pieces of pipe next to it.

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This is being done, once I started to look, at every ‘bridge’ along the way.

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The monkeys seem unperturbed by it, naturally.

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As they lay in the sidewalk, things along that side of the road will be impacted. There are many shrines and vendors right next to the road. Many are ‘squatters’ I think, with no legal right to the property.

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This popular shrine is right next to the road. What will become of it?

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Maybe Nandi is far enough away. What about this drainage ditch between Nandi and the road?

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Piles of rock and sand line the road now.

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They will build the sidewalk around this tree. The chai stand will have to move, however.

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This chai stand, too, will need to move.

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I notice than when they are laying concrete here, they do it one small mixer load at a time. In the US, they bring cement trucks and a wide stretch is laid continuously, all smooth and nice. Here it is not so. The fresh cement is not smooth and it does not seem like a very good job. I have seen this when they lay down concrete streets, too.

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I guess the sidewalk will leave room for the steps down into this water tank beside the road.

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Further along, where the work is more advanced, I see two cement curbs. The sidewalk will be between them.

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They are putting down one segment of the curb here.

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They use iron forms that are staked into place to put in the curbs.

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This shrine with the Holy Feet will now be right next to the sidewalk.

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More piles of rock and sand. Soon there will be the two sets of curbs.

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In some places they have had to do a big job rebuilding bridges across Girivalam Road.

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A grader has gone by, smoothing out the dirt where there will soon be two sets of curbs.

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Some buildings were in the way.

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The encroaching parts of the buildings were torn down.

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I am not sure what they will do in Adi Annamalai Village. If you look closely, you can see that they have already laid down about three feet of concrete beside the old road. The new curb will be on the edge of this new concrete.

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Many of the buildings seem quite close to the street.

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Further along, we see the existing sidewalk. This starts near Ramana’s Bridge, and goes the rest of the way to Velore Road. Maybe this will help with the flow of foot traffic.

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The local government officials are trying to figure out ways to improve the conditions for the millions of people who come here on full moon nights to walk around Arunachala. This widening of the road is one thing that will help.                         

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