18 July 2007

Mountain Connection

In the case of Arunachala one does not find a sacred shrine at the summit of the Hill as is generally the case at other Hills of South India where a Temple down below is united with a Temple high above, by means of path or staircase.

In the case of Arunachala, the Temple is connected to the circuit of the mountain. In the myth of Tiruvannamalai, the inselberg, considered as linga is found at the Centre of a ritual circumambulation. This route was made solely for religious purposes, a sacred way determined by the density of the super natural. The pathway is well-made, bordered with sacred tanks and stages and replete with important shrines of which some date from the same period as those of the inner sanctum (Shiva Sannidhi) of Arunachaleswara Temple.

This itinerary of devotion commences from the East side of the Mountain at the Temple, which is the point of departure and arrival. In this place of encounter, where people would periodically meet and from which point the giripradakshina originated and completed was thus the central ritual at which pilgrims converged, and was to become the embryonic seed of the city of what is now Tiruvannamalai.

[Jean Oeloche]

“Inselberg is an isolated hill, knob, ridge, or small mountain that rises abruptly from a gently sloping or virtually level surrounding plain. The word inselberg is German for "island mountain"; the name was originally coined to describe the abundant such features found in southern Africa.

Inselbergs are typically, though not only, formed in tropical areas. Volcanic or other processes may give rise to a body of rock resistant to erosion, inside a body of softer rock such as sandstone which is more susceptible to erosion. When the less resistant rock is eroded away to form a plain, the more resistant rock is left behind as an isolated mountain.”

[from Wikipedia]

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