8 July 2008

Sites near Virupaksha Cave

With kind permission from Richard Clarke, I am here reproducing part of a blog posting of his entitled 'Arunachala – New Access to Ramana Sites Below Virupaksha Cave.'

“A group of local Tiruvannamalai people have organized themselves and are doing wonderful work to clean up, repair and open up an area on Arunachala that is near to the popular Sri Ramana Maharshi sites of Virupaksha Cave and Skandanasram.

They have organized as a part of “Global Watch Trust.” You can see more about this organization at
http://www.globalwatchtrust.com This site is not yet updated to include this project.

In this area, this project is cleaning trash, clearing brush, repairing and improving paths, planting, and building benches and meditation areas. It improves access to Guhai Namashivaya Shrine and an ancient Ganesh shrine, and provides a way to reach three hillside caves that are said by local villagers to have been frequented by Sri Ramana. The Trust has been given permission to do this work by The Forest Authority, Arunachaleshwar Temple and Sri Ramanasramam.

The Approach
To get to this area, start like you are going to Virupaksha Cave. Below shows where this ‘road’ meets the street, at the northeast corner of Arunachaleshwar Temple.

Walk up the road until you see, to the left, this street. Notice the blue Global Watch Trust sign on the wall.”

Continue walking following the path, and slowly making your way up to Guhai Namashivaya Shrine

Below are Carol (Clarke) and Saravan, outside Guhai Namashiva Shrine. This shrine is an important locale in the history of Sri Ramana Maharshi. This is where he provided answers to questions on slips of paper that became the second of his small books, “Who am I?” This is probably the best known of Ramana’s works.

More information can be found about Guhai Namashivaya at http://www.arunachalasamudra.org/guhainamasivaya.html

After Guhai Namashiva Shrine, directly up the hill is the path to the caves. When finished, this area will have a nice stone path in the middle, surrounded by flowers and planting on both sides. There will be benches to sit and meditate and to enjoy this place.

On the path, we pass by a small cave, big enough for perhaps two or three people to sit in.

Old Ganesh Shrine
The next feature is an old Ganesh shrine, with this water tank. This shrine has been vandalized and the Ganesh idol taken. The Global Watch Trust plans to replace this idol.

Another small cave near the Ganesh Shrine. This cave is big enough for a person to lie down and sleep, but not big enough to stand up.

Up the hill to the best of the caves
Climbing further up the path we will get to the crown jewel (I think) of this area.
I would recommend good shoes or sandals and strong legs for the next part of the journey. The path is a bit steep in a couple of places.
The path continues up the hill . . . Some of this path is a ‘fire road’ up the hill.

In the Cave
In the cave, an oil lamp has been lighted

I think this cave is a special place. The people who live on the hill below here say that Ramana stayed in this cave, I guess during what are generally known as the ‘Virupaksha days.’

We have been here just two times and already it is one of our favorite places on Arunachala.

Working on the Mountain - Global Watch Trust

Community Development
The first part of this project was a vision from Saravan as to what could be done in this area, with encouragement from the founder of Global Watch Trust, Sathya. Together they put together a plan and a team to clean up and enhance this part of the Arunachala hill to properly respect the sacred heritage that is here.

An important part of the process has been involving the villagers who live on this part of the hill. This started with a ceremony and a ‘gifting.’ School notebooks were gifted to the children in an evening ceremony that included the local villagers. The purpose of this was to educate the villagers on the importance of this area so they might not use it as a trash dump, and to enlist their help in the work to clean up the hill.

As work started, local officials came to the group. Each interaction was similar, starting with “What are you doing?” and “No, you cannot do this.” After some discussion, permission was granted. First were officials from Arunachaleshwar Temple, then the Forest Authority, then Sri Ramanasramam.

The Crew

One big part of the effort was done with a crew consisting of local volunteers and the Global Watch Trust team, shown below. Together they worked to do the major cleanup of the hillside.

So much cleaning and clearing to do
For many years this area has been used for trash. The first thing needed was to clean up the trash.

Brush has overgrown the paths and area around the Banyan tree. All this needs to be cut away, and cuttings disposed of.

Results of the Team’s work
The path is repaired.
Here is a part of the path shown above that needed repair. Now it is easy and pleasant walking.

Global Watch Trust has funded the effort that you see in these pages out of their own funds. Those funds have run out, and for work to continue donations are needed. Evan small donations are a big help. Rs 1000 ($25 or 15 Euros) pays for one day’s work on the project. 40 days work have been done so far, and so much has been accomplished.

If you wish to help, donations can be made through the Global Watch Trust web site. Go to http://www.globalwatchtrust.com/ and click the ‘donate’ button. Credit Cards and PayPal are accepted. Also they ask, until their site is updated, that you also send an email to ceo@levicent.com and let them know that this donation is to be used for the Arunachala Hill project. "

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