Plans are set to complete Arunachala’s Inner Path before the 2010 ‘season’ begins. This is exciting news. Soon you will be able to walk the entire way around the Holy Hill, and not have to go through the chaos and noise of Tiruvannamalai.
I talked to Sathya, head of Global Watch Trust, this week. He has plans made now, and coordinated with the Tiruvannamalai Collector. (The Collector, in India, is kind of like a ‘City Manager’ in the USA. He execute the various projects that comprise local government services. Politicians make plans and allocate money for them. The Collector execute the plans and actually spends the money.) This way, the project is approved by local government, and the Collector gets to claim some kind of credit for the work (even though it is done by a NGO (non-governmental organization).
The new path will go from the road, after Kubera Lingam, over a saddle in a small hill on the Northeast side of Arunachala, to Pachaiamman Koil, and then to an area near Virupaksha Cave. It will NOT go through the village area where presently one has to be careful walking, since the villagers use the path as a toilet area.
I have made an approximate map for the route, shown below. The new route is in green.
Work is set to start in June (after the Southwest Monsoon has wetted the ground for easier digging). It will take ten people about three months to do the work, so it should open in September. We want also to finish work on the Inner Inner Path (also known as the ‘Yellow Path’) and have this connect up to this new path, so that when it is finished, you will be able to walk the Inner Path (the Red Path) the first part of the way, then get on the Yellow Path at Kattu Siva Tank, and follow it all the way around the North side of the hill (or follow the Red Path some or all the way) until you get to the new Green Path, shown above.
If all this work is done, then not only will there be a route that bypasses Tiruvannamalai, but also access will be provided to many areas of Arunachala that are not usually seen by those walking giri pradakshina.
I warn those interested in this route that it adds much climbing up the hill in an area that is usually sunny and hot, so this will be much more physically challenging than the present route. That said, I know people will love the new route. As people ask me about the Inner Path, this is, by far, the most common request I get.
This work will cost about one lakh Rupees (about $2500). Global Watch Trust is getting their nonprofit paperwork finalized. As soon as this is done, I will give another notice and let people know how they can donate for this great work.