We were told that a big tree planting project is underway on the path up from Sri Ramanasramam to Skandashram. The Ashram management says it needs volunteers to help in this effort. We thought we should go and look at what’s happening. We did so on the morning of 13 September, 2012, and took these photos.
This work will be going on through about November. Ramanasramam has told me that they want volunteers that can help for a few hours or more during this period. It will make the work go faster. If you can help, I think you will find it rewarding. It feels good to be part of such an effort. And in the years to come, when you see one of the trees that you planted, you will feel good each time you see it growing.
The way to Skandashram from Ramanasramam, near the dining hall.
Up these stairs. I think these are the same stairs that Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi was photographed climbing.
And out the back gate.
Thus starts the climb up the path.
The top of Arunachala peeks at us through the trees.
We have had some good rain in the last few weeks, so everything is very green.
Carol heads up the path.
The sign pointing the way.
The first part of the climb is the hardest, steepest.
After we climb up the first grade the path flattens out, and is sunny.
Here is where the planting begins, a long way down the hill from Skandashram. This sapling has a thorn branch put over it to protect it against the wildlife (and cows and goats).
An empty hole, waiting to be planted.
More saplings in the ground.
Carol is ahead of me on the path.
More plantings as we get up higher into a shaded part of the path. It is shaded because of earlier planting efforts. The new plantings are ‘fill-in’ plantings, to add more trees to empty spots.
I see a hose snaking down the path. This brings water for the trees all the way down from Skandashram. With water, these new saplings will have a good survival rate.
Another sapling. This looks pretty healthy.
Another section of the hose coming down the pathway.
Carol is ahead of me on the path. To each side we pass trees grown from earlier plantings.
One of the stone carvers at his stand by the path. When we can we like to buy something, even something small from this man. He is a good man, and just barely ekes out a living from what he sells.
Carol going up the hill, under a canopy of shade from trees planted in earlier years.
Another carver that is a regular. Another good guy. We will sometimes buy something from him, too. Anything to give him a bit of income for the day.
Carol is almost to the top.
She looks out at the big temple, Arunachaleswara Temple.
A man sits on the big rock at the top of the path. You will often see people sitting here, looking out, taking everything in.
The big temple. It is hazy today, so it is not a clear photo.
We head on the last part of the path to Skandashram.
Carol is in the shade of the trees.
Many of these trees have been planted since we came to Tiruvannamalai, five years ago. They grow fast enough when they are watered that they provide shade pretty quickly.
Here is the hose again.
The ashram is up ahead on the left.
Carol enters Skandashram gate.
The second gate.
The Swami in charge of Skandashram built a steel frame as a trellis last year. Now plants are starting to grow over it.
The grounds of the ashram are planted pretty intensely, lots of plants.
The door is unlocked, and people start filing in.
Into the inner part of the ashram.
People sit and meditate outside Ramana’s cave in the inner ashram.
Ramana’s photo in the inner ashram chamber.
The small shrine in his mother Alagammal’s room.
The steel trellis from inside the ashram grounds. It already provides nice shade.
Going down the hill we met some workmen. They are the crew that is planting now. They will be working for about the next 10 weeks. If you want to help in this effort, it would really be appreciated. What is needed is the ability to work for about four hours, digging, planting, watering, etc.
Saplings in a bag. They will be planted today.
More of the crew.
Swamiji told me that they are looking for a particular seedling, Magizh Maram, Mimusops elengi. Perhaps saplings can be purchased, I don’t know.
If you want to help, either go up to Skandashram about 8 AM and talk to Swamiji. Or talk to Krishna in the management offices at Ramanashramam. He can be emailed at Sivadas.firstname.lastname@example.org.
This is a most worthwhile effort. If you can help, I know that you will be happy you did so.