We have written in this blog about improvements in pradakshina (“girivalam” in Tamil) routes around Arunachala. This posting is to give an update on these activities.
New “Yellow Path”
(also called the “Inner Inner Path”)
The first two segments are complete and in regular use. The first segment goes over a pass on the east side of Ganesh Hill (the small hill between Arunachala and Parvati Hills). It is described in this post. It meets with the next segment of the Yellow Path on the other side of the pass. This path is shown here and here.
This map shows these two new path segments:
There is additional work planned on the “Inner Inner Path” to connect to Pachiaimman Koil. This is not scheduled yet, though. The exact route is being developed now.
Now that plans are changing for the new path from Pachaiamman Koil to Virupaksha Temple (see below), it is planned for the Yellow Path to go over a small ridge to Pachaiamman Koil, skirting the village on the Inner Path. This route is shown in this post. This path segment will give views of Arunachala not seen before by those walking girivalam.
New Segment between Pachaiamman Koil and Virupaksha Temple
On 29 April, 2010, we published an article, “Plans to Complete Arunachala’s Inner Path” which described a tentative plan for a path from Pachaiamman Koil and Virupaksha Temple that would go up and over the Arunachala hillside. We even tried to explore this route, (shown in this post). After our exploration, we thought that this route would be too difficult for most people (after already completing 10 km of the route). Well, the local Collector who is involved in this project came to the same decision, and asked those planning this route to find a way at the base of Arunachala. This will cause quite a delay, since this route is not obvious, and will need to go through areas where squatters have build houses right up to Arunachala.
If any of you have specific knowledge of this area and can make route suggestions, we will forward them to the people who will be doing this work.
New Sidewalk beside the Outer Path
On 17 March 2010 we posted this article on “Expanding Girivalam Road around Arunachala.” This work is continuing, and they are trying to complete it by Deepam (November 2010). To get this done they are now working seven days a week. Below are a few photos taken today that show the progress. They show work on the new sidewalk from where ‘Hill Round Road” (the English name for Girivalam Road) to Rajarajaswari Temple. The sidewalk project, when complete, will join the existing sidewalk at Ramana’s Bridge, on the north side of Arunachala.
The new sidewalk starts right after the Ganesha Temple on the corner of Hill Round Road and Bangalore Road. It is finished here, and the chai stand has moved their table and chairs back on the sidewalk.
Different colored tiles are used. Here the main color is red.
This is where they are laying new tile.
First they must demolish the water tank shown in the photo above.
They then put another layer of cement and lay the tiles on top.
There is a crew of about 15 men and women working here.
More tiles are being delivered.
Piles of tiles and sand for the cement line the road where the work crew will soon be.
Further up the road, the concrete base that is laid over the dirt ends.
Another crew is here, extending the concrete further each day.
Cement is brought in a wheel barrow, and spread out by the workers.
The concrete is made in this mixer. The blue bags of cement are nearby, as well as piles of sand and crushed rock to be mixed in.
Women carry the ingredients to the mixer.
They have to figure how to go around various obstacles that will remain in place (mainly temples and shrines, like this Nandi).
Behind the Nandi, you can see forms for the new curb on the side of the walk away from the road.
These men are tearing down a cement and stone wall that is in the way.
Ahead is smoothed dirt for the sidewalk. A cement curb is next to the road. Another one will be added to the other side of the walk before it is paved.
Further ahead is rough dirt, waiting to be smoothed out for paving. The curb by the road is already in place.
Past the area shown in this post, another set of work crews has already done their work, and for much of the way to Ramana’s bridge there is now a new sidewalk. As the road passes through Adi Annamalai village, there is no new sidewalk. They would have had to remove many houses to do so, and they did not have permission to do this.
One impact of the new path is on the many vendors (mainly chai stands) that lined the road on the outer side. They were all squatters, and all their buildings were torn down. Now most have been rebuilt on the Arunachala side of the road. One unintended consequence of this project is to place more buildings between those walking pradakshina and Arunachala.
Arunachala is visited by millions of people each year, most of whom walk around the holy mountain. The crowds, especially on full moon nights, can be quite heavy. The work being done to add the sidewalk increases the capacity of the road for walkers by about 50%. For those who want more peace and quiet the Inner Path is available, and it now has been improved to add the new “Yellow Path” which opens up areas of Arunachala previously unseen by most walkers.