This is the third part of a three-part series showing what I think are the best Arunachala photos of the more than 50,000 that I have taken over the last four years. This post shows photos of the east side of Arunachala, and the south side up to Ramanasramam. Part One is here, and Part Two, here.
On the eastern slope, this hillock, one of the Five Faces of Siva – Panchamukta – rises from the hill. This eastern face of Siva is called Tatpurusha and represents the feeling Tat Tvam Asi, the ancient Hindu Mahavakya, “Thou art That,” indicating identity between the individual and Absolute Being, the Supreme Brahman. Its profile is seen in the photo below, looking south from the Inner Path.
This view shows the Arunachala peak. In the center and right are the eastern view of The Elephant. These two peaks are also called Siva (the main peak) and Parvati (the smaller one to the right). To the left is the large face of Siva, Tatpurusha.
A closer view of The Elephant, from the east. The valley in front of The Elephant is rarely visited by anyone.
The Arunachala peak, and the Tatpurusha hillock.
The main peaks again, with the topmost peak wearing a cloud.
These three peaks, from the Inner Path.
A last look at these peaks.
Arunachala, with Tatpurusha to the right. This was taken from atop the hotel Arpanaa on the main road.
This photo shows a few of the seven warriors that protect the Goddess at Pachaiamman Koil.
The Arunachala peak again.
Looking up from a trail at Tatpurusha.
Looking up at the Arunachala peak, through a hillside village built on a big rock face.
Looking at the peak. To the left is the main god at the hillside temple, Madurai Veeran Koil. This temple is rarely visited. The swamiji there is very sweet.
Looking down the hillside into the nearby city. In the center of the photo are the rocks and cave next to Madurai Veeran Koil.
Looking from the hillside up at the peak, with Tatpurusha to the right.
Across the Hill
These pictures were taken on cross-country hikes along the hillside where there are presently no paths.
The Arunachala peak.
Higher up the hill.
Looking down into the city.
The peak again.
The peak, from another viewpoint.
Again, a bit higher up the hill.
In the center of this photo is a spec of white. This is Carol’s pants. You can just see her, with a blue top.
The peak above us. These hillside photos are a bit funny, with the foreground so large, that the peak seems so small and far away.
Another photo of the peak. I put so many of these in this article, since these are views rarely seen by those who visit Tiruvannamalai and walk around Arunachala.
The hillside, Carol in the center of the photo.
We took an “expedition” up to Seven Springs, about 2/3 the way up the mountain, to a location that is the highest year-round source of water. This is an area that has been lived in by sadhus since time immemorial.
Working our way up the hill.
As you can see, it is a bit of a climb. There are arrows marking the way. We used a guide, though, to help. We advise this.
It was early in the morning, with good light for photos.
Looking down the mountain, towards Tiruvannamalai.
The big Temple, Arunachaleswara.
This was our guide, Jagan. The hillside was nice and green.
Half way up the hill is a very nice cave. I call it “Godman’s Cave,” after David Godman, who started digging this cave out in the 1970s, when he lived on the hillside.
Looking down the hill. The Big Temple is in the background.
The Arunachala peak is above us.
The city and Big Temple, below.
Carol squeezes into the topmost of the three caves at Seven Springs. Thank goodness there is another entrance, higher up, or I never would have made it into the cave.
The view out of the cave. It is open, shaded, with a nice breeze–such a nice place to stop.
Here I am, sitting at the top of the cave. Ramana Maharshi used to stop here, while the ashramites walked up to the top of the hill.
Here is today’s expedition group, sitting and resting in the cave.
One more look up to the top of the mountain, then back down. Skandashram is where we departed from on today’s climb.
To the Top
These photos were taken by others. I have never made it to the top. The climb up to Seven Springs was as much of a climb as I felt I could make.
Here is the peak, almost to the top.
At the peak. The peak is covered with black, oily rocks. They are oily due to all the ghee used each year for the Deepam torch.
Here is the Big Temple, from the top. The photo is enlarged, to show the detail.
Two climbers sit and meditate, in the late afternoon sun.
Here is the lighting of the Deepam torch. The torch is lit each night for ten nights. It uses A LOT of ghee, carried up the hill by thousands of people in the days before Deepam.
Tortoise Cave is where Sri Ramana had what is called his “second death experience.” It is not often visited, since it is a bit difficult to get to. We were led there by another of the mountain guides, Saran.
In the photo below, he is helping Carol climb up over a rock.
From the hillside, there is a wonderful view of Pavala Kundru, where Ramana first met with his mother, who was trying to get him to come home, and where some feel that Ramana gave his first teaching (to his mother during this visit).
Tortoise Cave is on the hillside near the Big Temple. Here is the Temple from the hill.
Here is another view of the Temple, through the trees, a bit higher up the hill.
Here is Tortoise Cave.
Its triangle shape can be see from the city below, and readily identified. Carol and Saran sit in the cave.
Carol meditates on the rock in the entrance to the cave.
Here is the city from the hillside.
The Big Temple, again.
Atop Tortoise Cave is Tortoise Rock. You can see the face of the tortoise in this side view.
The Virupaksha Cave area is well known and visited by many who come here. One common way to get there is by a street that goes from the northeast corner of the Big Temple.
This photo was taken part way up that street.
This photo was take further up one of the paths to Virupaksha Cave. The area with all the trees in the center of the photo is Skandashram, which is further up the path past Virupaksha Cave.
Carol walks ahead of me up one of the paths to Virupaksha.
Taking a side trip on this path, you can see three other caves that are not frequently visited, below Virupaksha Cave. This is the entrance to the largest of them. It was cemented in a few years ago by local boys who live on the hillside here.
Looking up at the peak from this cave.
The entrance to Virupaksha Cave. (The path to Skandashram is to the right.)
A building has been built around the cave.
Here is the entrance to the cave.
A hallway leads to the cave. Photos are not permitted inside the cave, so this is not shown here.
Carol walks up the steep stairs to Skandashram. There is another path to Skandashram that is much easier. It leads from Ramanasramam.
Here is Skandashram. This is the favorite place on the mountain for many who come here. When it opens at 8 AM, the swami in charge chants for several minutes. It is sublime. I call it “the best show on the mountain.”
Other South Side Photos
These are a few more photos, taken from roads below Arunachala.
Arunachala from the street.
Arunachala from below further around the mountain from the photo above.
This is Pavala Kundru, looking from the east.
Arunachala, viewed from Lotus Tank, on the south side of Tiruvannamalai.
Arunachala, looking through the entrance to Agni Tank.
Arunachala looking across the tank in the Big Temple.
The views of Arunachala are many and varied, as I hope I have shown in these three posts. May these posts remind you of what you love, and may you feel Arunachala in your heart.