Tag Archives: pilgrimage

Thiruvannamalai : Summary

Tiruvannamalai is a temple town Located at the foothills of Annamalai hills  at the Southern part of India,  in the state of Tamil Nadu. Nearest big city is Chennai which is around 200km away by road. Auroville and Pondicherry is around 100km away

How to Reach Thiruvannamalai

Nearest Airport : Chennai International Airport, ~200km away

Another one is Bangalore airport, Around 300km away

Railway station : Tiruvannamalai railway station, but only passenger trains stop here. There are no direct trains from Chennai, that stops here. One might need to reach Villupuram junction or Katpadi junction from Chennai to get a passenger train to Thiruvannamalai. Or reach Pondicherry and take a bus. Plan your train trips from here. If you need more tips check this.

Road transport : Thiruvannamalai is well connected by road. Taking a bus from Chennai to Thiruvannamalai is the cheapest option. Taxi services are available, but 200km taxi ride can be an expensive affair

And i moved forwards, closer to it
Bus Ride to Thiruvannamalai.


Things to Do in Thiruvannamalai

Thiruvannamalai is a pilgrim town. If you are on a spiritual journey, this is one great place to visit.

  •  Stay atSriRamanasramam and learn about his philosophies, spirituality, Vedanta or just enjoy the serenity of the place.

    Sri Ramanashram
    Sri Ramanashram
  • Visit theAnnamalaiyar Temple, one of the largest temples in India, temple complex of which covers an area 25 acres.

    Annamalaiyar temple towers
    Annamalaiyar temple towers
  • Do Giri Pradakshina( Walking Around the Hill) around the Holy mountain. A 14 km barefoot walk.

    The Midnight Pilgrims
    The Midnight Pilgrims
  • Do a barefoot trek to the holy mountain which is approx. 814m high. ( One can wear footwear if they wish to, barefoot walk and trek are just personal choice )

    Someone going down
    Someone going down
  • Go find the very Special, footprints of Lord Shiva at the top of the mountain.

    Footprints of Lord Shiva
    Footprints of Lord Shiva
  • Take part in Giri valam ( walk around the Hill) on a Full moon day. Dates are given on this site . There will be thousands of people walking around the holy hill that night.
  • Visit during Kartikai Deepam: (Nov-Dec) This spectacular ten-day festival, during which the gigantic temple chariots are led in procession through the town streets. At sunset on the final day, the beacon atop Arunachala is lit and is visible for miles around, burning for 7 days or more. [ More details can be found from the website given at the end of the post ]

Some more things to do

  • Meet some interesting people, talk about spirituality, God, culture and what not!

    The juggler
    The juggler
  • Rent a bicycle and explore the temple town

    Going green
    Going green
  • Buy some stone carved souvenir

    Marble Art
    Marble Art

Things to do : for the Photographer in you

  • Go for a morning walk to capture vibrant portraits

    Early start
    Early birds might get worms, as there are plenty of flocks
  • Getthatbird’s eye view shot of the Town.

    The view from the peak
    The view from the peak
  • Get a panoramic view of the town from top of the hill
  • Capture some vibrant life on the streets

    Some more colours were added to the already colourful day
    Some more colours were added to the already colourful day
  • Capture the architectural marvel of the temple from outside
    The massive Annamalaiyar temple towers
    The massive Annamalaiyar temple towers

    And just have fun, enjoy the serenity of the place, experience the energy of Arunachala and come back with great memories.

Your one stop solution website for your future Thiruvannamalai Trip : Click here to read everything in Detail. Have a great journey.


Midnight Adventure @ Thiruvannamalai

Continuing from Thiruvannamalai Adventure begins

29.10.2014 ( Day 23)

We had the nice self-made dinner. Everyone thought that we would sleep early, and wake up early the next day morning to do the walking around the mountain before sun hit too hard.

Time : Around 12’o clock

But instead of sleeping early, we were having a great time with our host. I haven’t mentioned with emphasis that I was couch surfing at Thiruvannamalai. So I will do it now. Yes, I was couch surfing at Thiruvannamalai!

This happened to be the bestest couch surfing experience I had till date. As usual our host was very kind-hearted like any other person with a true couch surfing spirit. , Greg, That is the name of our host .

This time I didn’t even have to write a couch request to my CS host. My friend, my travel partner had already got accepted and was staying with Greg a day before I reached Thiruvannamalai.  So when I made plans to visit this place, my fried casually asked Greg that if he could accept two more people. And he agreed immediately.

Greg is an amazing person, he is from France, he lives a few months in Thiruvannamalai, another few months near Himalayas, North India and Nepal. And then France. And repeat.

During this couch surfing experience,

  • I learned and mastered the use of Tibetan healing bowl 😉
  • Sang at the top of my voice first time in my life.
  • Became a drummer that night and joined the midnight singing party.
  • Solved a puzzle.
  • experimented with really low light photography

That night was so much fun. Later Greg demonstrated juggling.

The juggler
The juggler

We had an interesting juggling and jamming session. Juggling and background music by ukulele and drums.  I small part of that session captured by my mobile phone.

Well if you are thinking, is this the great midnight adventure I mentioned on the title , I will tell you the adventure hasn’t even started!

Our plans of going to sleep early and waking up early  were already thrown into the dustbin. It was around 1am when we started losing our voice due to heavy singing 😉 So we had to think of other plans.

The idea came like an impulse. There was a tug of war between adventure and laziness combined with a bit of fear. At last adventure succeeded and decision was taken to go for the walk around the holy mountain; and the time was 1.15 am !!

I am glad that others were supportive and finally we decided to walk the holy path at that time. When the whole world was sleeping, (even the authentic seekers of spirituality must be sleeping during that time) we three started walking.

It is called Circumambulation which means the act of moving around a sacred object or idol. Here the sacred object is Arunachalam, the holy mountain itself. The circumambulation path is 14 kilometres. The devotees circumambulate the 14km barefooted. We did the same.

The Midnight Pilgrims
The Midnight Pilgrims

Thus we were started walking, at around  1.30 am. The road was empty, we didn’t have a torch, except the flash on our mobile phones. We had discussed and agreed on emergency procedures 😉 And we walked. We crossed and passed the narrow streets and finally reached the highway, the outer path that was mentioned in the previous post.

We have to complete almost 14km to come back to this point again. The walk continued.  As we were walking I found a group of men following us. They were around 6 or 7 and they were approaching us. We decided to wait till they pass us.  And they came nearer to us and guess what? They were also doing what we were doing. Walking around the holy hill 😀

When I came back and did some research, I came to know that the circumambulation is mostly done at night. On every full moon night hundreds and thousands of devotees comes here to walk around the holy hill.

During our further journey we met a few more people walking the path. Unfortunately we did it, Not on a full moon day, so there weren’t too many people. But the streets were almost well-lit by street lights, roads were  neat, clean and in very good condition. So barefoot walking didn’t affect us much. Or maybe our barefoot mountain trekking had made us hard-core 😉

Maybe because it was a cold night, we did a lot of watering the plants and adding urea to it while walking. We came across sleep less stray dogs barking at us. We saw people sleeping on the sides of the streets peacefully. We even saw someone asking for alms at that time of the day! We saw temples and Shiva lingas but due to lack of knowledge I didn’t realize their significance. Now I know that there are eight lingams located at the eight directions and provides an octagonal structure to Thiruvannamalai Town. You can read from the experts. CLICK..

We took around 4 hours to complete the walk. We reached around 5.30am at the point were we started. Still the life hadn’t started yet in that small town. In between we stopped for a tea from an early morning tea shop. And when we were about to pay we didn’t have any small notes! So we dug all our purses and found whatever coins we could, and paid. But still were short of money and we got a 2 rupees off!! Yay! 😉

We reached our room by 6. The walk and the effect of tea started working; nature was calling. 😉 Things were sorted out. Soon we went to bed, hoping to wake up and go out by evening. Oh this day was a little long! 😉 But definitely lots of fun.

If you missed the previous parts,

the day started with a morning walk

and then we did a half trekking and visited an ashram and cave where Ramana maharshi stayed for year. Then we  prepared our dinner and rest of the story you just read 😉

A lot of adventures and fun are still awaiting to be told 😉

Well walking through an Indian street past midnight isn’t a big adventure. It is just to get your attention I said that. Now that I know I have your attention if you are reading this, I am giving out the secret 😉