27 March 2007

Rose-Crowned Glory

"After an all night train journey, I arrived at Tiruvannamalai just as the sun was clearing the horizon. The stars were fading out of the sky and the gopurams of the temple were silhouetted against the perfect cone of Arunachala Hill. It rose three thousand feet out of flat terrain and being so close it completely dominated the scene. The summit was at that moment hidden in a cloud which deepened to a crimson coronet as it caught the first rays of sunlight. Ten minutes later the display was over and the heat of the day began. I had seen the Taj Mahal by moonlight and the vast expanse of the snow-clad Himalayas stretching for a hundred miles, but in all India I never saw anything to equal this first glimpse of the holy hill, rose-crowned by the glory of the morning light."

[Hunting the Guru in India, by Anne Marshall]

The latest Government, Tiruvannamalai survey puts the height of Arunachala at 2,668 feet. As it is the only sizeable peak in the area Arunchala always seems larger than it actually is. But to get an idea of just how wee the Hill is; Mount Shasta is 14,161 feet, that is over 6 times the size of Arunachala. And Mount Everest at the Himalayas is 29,035 feet. So in this case size really doesn't matter!

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