Leaving India, my heart was full. We had such happy years here. We could not have made a better choice of where to go when we retired. In the eight years here we have made many good friends, seen a bit of India and the surrounding countries, and gotten to know Tamil life a bit. The closeness to Arunachala and Ramanasramam brought with it a kind of peace that is deep and silent. I don’t know what the future brings, but I do know that we are blessed by Arunachala wherever we go.
We took these photos on our last day ion India.
Last Walk in Arunachala Forest
My day has started for six years with a walk with Arunachala, on the Inner Path, or exploring the mountain the first years. Then, after the ban on Inner Path pradakshina, I walked in the Arunachala forest on the west side of the mountain. From the last walk:
Early light colors the clouds above Arunachala.
Path into Arunachala forest.
There are many paths on the west side of Arunachala. I made the map below with Google Earth, based on hundreds of walks through the area. There is a broad area of forest between Girivalam Road and the Inner Path, and footpaths crisscross it everywhere. If you look, you will find entrances into the forest from Girivalam road, all around the holy hill. I would leave our house after the light came, but before the sun rose over the mountain. I don’t think the Forest Department patrols these paths very often, and for most paths, patrolling is never done. I felt safe and cool in the early morning. I would see sadhus in the forest, and also deer, langur and macaque monkeys, rabbits and the like.
Pathways map. (Click on the map below to enlarge.)
Below is Freckles, one of our dogs for the last five years. This is the last of over 1,000 Arunachala walks with Freckles. I am sad to leave Freckles and her sister, Pippi; they’re our old friends. (They will be well taken care of after we leave, but will not have their usual morning walk.)
My first good look at Arunachala this morning. All these photos are kind of dark in the early morning light.
Even though the hottest season is on its way, some trees are in flower now, while most have dropped their leaves, getting ready for the severe heat and dryness.
Full view of Arunachala. I treasure these moments. The rock in the foreground is one that I often sit on to be with the mountain. Sadhus sit here, too.
There is an area of tall trees, planted in the government effort in the 1980s. This area cannot be seen from the Inner Path.
A sadhu walks through the trees.
At the start of this path there is a Trischul near the road. You look over it directly to Arunachala. Often there are flowers placed at its base.
Across the street is a well-cared-for Nandi. It is tended by Murugana, a local woman who in earlier years cared for Kanappa Temple.
The local Murugan Temple. I kind of felt like this was my “family temple.” Ever since I noticed In the Ribhu Gita that Skanda was the original source for these teachings, I have felt attraction to Murugan (which is the original Tamil name for Skanda). I see Murugan as standing for Self-knowledge so that we know how to act (that is, to do spiritual practice). And as a hero figure he stands for action. So following his lead, we act (to practice). So I like this temple and often stop for darshan and to say a few words to Murugan.
Walking up the street near our house, the two dogs run ahead of me. I will really miss these dogs. They have been great Arunachala companions over the last few years. We have been in the forest together so many times, good times.
Last Time ‘Round the Hill
We took one last “scooter pradakshina” of Arunachala and took photos. Some are below.
Driving the scooter out to Arunachala from our Rajarajeswari Nagar neighborhood.
One of the many temples and shrines. This is one of the Vallalar shrines.
Arunachala, the southwest side, in the afternoon light.
Carol and scooter, swami looking on.
Monkey. No more macaques in our life.
One of hundreds of sadhus around Arunachala.
The Elephant; the face of the north side of Arunachala.
Ardhanarishvara, per legends, inextricably associated with Arunachala.
Arunachala from near the end of Girivalam Road.
Hablis Hotel in Chennai
We checked into the Hablis Hotel for a few hours of rest before the 3:30 AM flight to the USA, a journey that will be of 24 hours duration.
We went to the rooftop restaurant for our evening meal.
It was next to a beautifully lit swimming pool.
Richard, looking at the menu.
Chennai from the rooftop.
Jet flying directly overhead. The airport is in the flight path. We did not hear the noise from the room, but on the rooftop it was very loud for a minute or so.
Ohhh, look at the pretty lights in the water.
Exercise equipment in the water. This is a water-bicycle.
Carol is fascinated by a float in the water.
More of a close-up.
Then the flash! Unexpected result!
From our seat near the pool.
I was interested in the kitchen, with the grid of the tiles and the angles of the chef’s hats.
And the silhouette of the waiter standing in front of the kitchen.
Richard eating dinner. Chopsticks in Chennai?
It was a good rest for a few hours before the flight. Moderately priced for the location. They do not have a shuttle to the airport, though. Plan your transportation to the airport. Maybe you can arrange this with the hotel, I don’t know. This was a great ‘last stop’ for us this trip.
Thank you Arunachala. Living in the Grace of Arunachala gave us a life beyond compare. I am sad to leave.