24 November 2006

Arulmani Ashram

Yesterday I went to Rangammal Hospital to pick up some papers and as it was such a pretty afternoon and I just wasn't in the mood to haggle with auto rickshaw drivers, decided to walk the 2kms home. It was actually quite lovely and instead of going via country lanes I walked by the side of NH-66 (Tiruvannamalai-Bangalore road) on my way home.

I stopped to take a photograph of Arunachala and noticed a new construction which I decided to check out. I learnt from the owner of the building that the Arulmani Ashram is being constructed at a total cost of 5 crore (U.S.$1,122,000. It will comprise a small Ganapati Temple, two meditation halls (one of which can accommodate 1,000 people), a dining hall with kitchen, 14 air-conditioned rooms, 13 deluxe rooms and a small garden. The person building this new complex is also responsible for the much visited Ramalinga Swami Temple on the hill round which was opened 14 years ago.

Immediately you enter the compound and at the front of the Arulmani Ashram is a small Ganapati Temple with a very nice statue of the much loved elephant headed God.

Inside I checked out various rooms under construction and met up with a family of a Dad and his two sons, who are working together as electricians at the Ashram complex.

These statues at one end of the dining hall (which will offer free food) are of very lavishly painted Lord Venkateshwara and his two consorts. Even though the Complex won't be completed for at least another 4-5 months, the supremely auspicious God (always want to keep him happy!) has already been nicely decorated to help charge up auspicious blessings and vibrations for the successful completion of the work.

There are lots of other statues awaiting their nice painting and finishing. Here is a statue of five faced Gayatri Ma. Its brilliant watching the artisans make these statues as they build the forms up bit-by-bit with cement. The Balaji statue flanked by the two Goddesses, Sri Devi and Bhu Devi, started up in the same way as the Gayatri statue. So once she gets painted, she also will look bright and shiny.

With all the pilgrims and overseas visitors coming to Arunachala, there is certainly a need for more facilities like the above. I will check on progress at the Arulmani Ashram soon.


Divyakka said...

Wow, such a costly and impressively lavish venture! And how exciting to watch the progress, stage by stage!

Arunachala Living said...

Yes, it will be interesting to watch the progress. However I pointed out to the building owner, that I thought he was trying to juggle too many balls.

He has a meditation room for a 1,000 people - so that means lots of Indians will come - but then how can he offer high cost accommodation upstairs for Westerners? You know how they like their peace and quiet. And then if they don't rent the deluxe a/c rooms - does he think that the Indian families coming in buses and vans will? will they have the money? Hmm!!! Interesting.

Think he should have directed his focus to a specific demographic. Either go for lots of pilgrims that don't have plenty of money or go for fewer, richer, visitors - being either Indian or Western.

Time will tell. Wait and see. Also another point they are building their Temple across the road from Shanmurgan's 'Engineering Works' - I don't think that is a very good idea. Sort of noisy. I actually pointed that out to the building owner and he didn't seem to think it would make a difference. Hmm!!!

Divyakka said...

I have observed in my time in India, Indians making very crazy business choices, all out of pure greed. The habit of Indians to brush good advice aside, saying, “It doesn’t matter, it will work out,” doesn’t seem to help anyone in the end.

Do you know that many people are still taking huge loans to build more apartment complexes in Puttaparthi, while 90% of the present ones remain empty? Don’t people learn from other’s mistakes? I guess not. The brand new apartments remain empty while the now deeply in debt managers cry; and at the same exact time, tens of construction sites continue to build more. Not to mention all the abandoned buildings due to no water supply: the water table has reduced so much in Puttaparthi due to every building having their own drilled well, that I heard no more new wells or deepening of wells is allowed in Puttaparthi. The street I lived on had 14 apartment buildings, only 4 of which had water supply.

Arunachala Living said...

I totally agree. I wouldn't gamble all my money on whether or not Western people are going to keep coming to Arunachala. Supposing the overseas tourist/pilgrim traffic stopped for a couple of years? That would bankrupt the man.

Are folk actually still developing rental apartments and houses at Puttaparthi?