22 March 2015

Parvathamalai: Girivalam, Accommodation, Routes



As Parvathamalai is within the radius of the power of Arunachala, as set out in the Skanda Purana, and as it is becoming increasingly more renowned in these modern times, I have already made several postings on various aspects—see below: 

To read an earlier post about Parvathamalai setting out its spiritual significance and some of its history, go to this link here:

To learn about the Siddhar Thavathiru Veera Vairakiya Moorthy with miraculous powers who lived on Parvathamalai in ancient times, go to this link here:

This new posting gives more practical advice to pilgrims eager to visit Parvathamalai, with details of accommodation available at that place, photographs and information about both climbing the Hill and also regarding circumambulation of the 25 km perimeter of the Hill base. As this posting will be quite long, I will make an additional posting with photographs of the Temple on top of the Parvathamalai Hill at a later date. 

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To the northern side of Tiruvannamalai there is a place which has the sacred blessing of Lord Shiva and which used to be known as Trisula Paaruvatham. Today this sacred place is called, Parvathamalai. It is an ancient Hill which has a beautiful Temple of Lord Mallikarajuna Iswara located on its summit. This sacred Temple is believed to have originated over 2,000 years ago. The Hill is surrounded by forests and mountains and is known as Thirumoolaarenyam. 

A number of Siddhars and Maharshis have performed Thaavam at this place. A famous Rishi known as Mirukaandu Muni, lived on this Hill and with his power of thaavam a river originated nearby called Mirukaanda River which now flows all through the forest. Agathir Maharshi and Kaanuvar Rishi have performed thapas and stayed for sometime at this sacred place. Even today a number of Siddhas and Rishis are believed to be residing at Trisula Paaruvatham. The Universal Guru, Aathi Shivalinga – Chariya Peruman Gurupeetam is at that spot even now. 

It is reputed that there are Siddhars who have made this Hill their home and who keep their presence a secret only choosing to reveal themselves to very few devotees of the Divine. It is believed that these Siddhars visit the Temple on the top of Parvathamalai at midnight to worship the presiding deities there. Though no one are able to see them in physical bodies, Villagers around ‘Parvathamalai’ down below say that they can clearly hear the sound of ringing bells, blowing conch and beating drums exactly at midnight when pujas are performed by siddhars. Devas and spiritual beings from other lokas are also believed to worship on the Hill every night. 

"Siddhars have spoken volumes about Pancha Nathana Nataraja. They say that this deity is such a rarity in the Universe that even the Devas would give anything just for the chance of worshipping him. They say that on the Nataraja Abisheka days which occur in certain Tamil months (Chitra, Aani, Aavani, Purattaasi, Margazhi and Maasi), the Devas perform their worship to this deity in subtle form. This kind of worship is similar to the sookshma worship done by the Devas at the peak of the Arunachala Hill and on the Parvathamalai Hill." 

It is reported by visitors that at night many paranormal activities occur on Parvathamalai. That it is possible to experience both Jyoti Darsanam at night and also to imbibe an almost other-worldly intoxicating scent of flowers. The Goddess idol at the Temple has a dazzling smile and Divine light can often be seen on her face and cheeks. When the devotee walks away from Goddess Brahmarambika in the sanctum sanctorum, the size of the deity instead of diminishing, appears to increase in size and it seems as if the Goddess steps forward and approaches the devotee. 

On the top of Parvathamalai Swami Mouna Vithoba lived for 16 years attending to his sadhana and helping to maintain the beautiful Temple of Lord Mallikarajuna Iswara located on the Hill’s summit. After living for 16 years on the summit the saint came to the bottom of Parvathamalai Hill and performed intensive sadhana for 4-5 years engaged in puja and worship of the murti of his Goddess Sri Rajarajeshwari. 



Swami Mouna Vithoba

This saint deceased sometime during 2001-2002 but the work at the top of the Hill is continuing in his name. 

In this respect a renovation Trust named ‘Triplicane Sri Paruvathamalai Adiyargal Thiruppani Sangam’ has been set up to: 

(1) continue improving the walkways to the top of Parvathamalai, 
(2) develop and maintain Lord Mallikarajuna Iswara Temple on the summit, 
(3) complete construction of the Mouna Guruswamy Ashram on summit and, 
(4) continue managing the completed Mouna Guruswamy Ashram at foot of the Hill. 


Ashram at base of Hill


When Swami Mouna Vithoba passed away (at his place) at the bottom of the Hill, an ashram slowly developed and on January 29, 2012 a grand Kumbhabhishekam function was performed at the samadhi of Mouna Vithoba Swami at what is now an Ashram dedicated to him at the foot of Parvathamalai. 

Food and accommodation is available at the Mouna Guruswamy Ashram at the bottom of Parvathamalai. To make enquiries please call the person in attendance at that place Sri Ramesh at (0)9843417989. 


Samadhi of Swami Vithoba

10 years ago work started on making an Ashram on the top of Parvathamalai. The ashram is still under development, however even now (in its unfinished state) it offers food and accommodation to pilgrims But call first and speak direct to these managers if you hope to enjoy the facilities of either of these ashrams during a visit to Parvathamalai. To get in touch with Mouna Guruswamy Ashram (which is currently under development) at the top of Parvathamalai please call Sri Sridhar at (0)9688505403. 


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The sacred place of Parvathamalai is under 30 kms from Arunachala and infused with Arunachala’s radiating spiritual power. The Sage of Kanchi (Kanchipuram) the great Sri Sankaracharya Chandrashekarendra Saraswati twice undertook pilgrimages on foot from Rameshwaram in the far south of the Indian peninsula to Benares in the North. On one of those pilgrimages (written about in Paul Brunton’s “In Search of Secret India” book) he visited Parvathamalai Hill after his time at Arunachala. When he saw Parvathamalai he declared that it was in actual fact itself a Siva Lingam and proceeded to walk the 25 kms circumference of the Hill. From that time the fame of girivalam at Parvathamalai (in modern times) has spread. 

“On the first of Margazhi month in 1944, His Holiness Sri Chandrasekharendra Saraswathi Swamigal fondly known as Maha Periyava performed Girivalam of Parvathamalai which is located in the Thiruvannamalai-Chengam Road. His Holiness started on foot from his camp at Kadaladi accompanied by the devotees and went round the mountain through jungles and hills and reached the camp back late in the night.” 

Consequently each year on the first day of the Tamil month of Margazhi, a special girivalam has been organised (including food) since 2009 by Sri Kanchi Kamakoti Peetam. On this day many thousands of devotees arrive and perform a ‘special girivalam’ of Parvathamalai. 

Nowadays many devotees and pilgrims visit and climb the hill to worship at the Temple on the summit in order that they may attain bliss and enlightenment. Others following the example of Shankaracharya prefer not to walk on the Hill itself but instead choose to perform the 25 km (approximately 8 hours to complete) girivalam around its base. The busiest times at Parvathamalai are the days of full moon, no moon and new moon. 

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The height of Parvathamalai is over 4,000 feet. It is part of Javadhi Hills and accessible through Kadaladi village 25 kms north of Tiruvannamalai or through Thenmadimangalam. Parvatham means mountain and Parvatha Malai as it is called, connotes “Hill of Hills” or “Queen of Hills”. Parvathamalai presents eight different shapes from eight directions around the hill. 

There are three ways of climbing Parvathamalai 

1. Through Thenmadimangalam Village (new way): 20 kms from Polur. Most devotees come this way. It is the route most recently created. When coming this way one can take darshan of the Pachaiamman and Veerabhardran Shrines at the foot of Parvathamaiai. 

2. Through Kadaladi Village (old way): Going by this route one can visit the Ashram at the bottom of Parvathamalai and leave one’s vehicle there. There are facilities for devotees to stay overnight. This route is more appropriate to trekkers. 

The same Trust that is developing the Temple of Lord Mallikarajuna Iswara at the top of Parvathamalai Hill, is also helping to make access to the Hill summit easier by the continued development of a Hill pathway. 

3. Kandha Palayam: Kandha Palayam village is located 10 kms after Kadaladi Village. A Saint used to live in this village who would regularly climb up the Hill. Even now there is a path but it is very steep. There is an Ashram and Temple in this village. 

The distance of the trek to the top of Parvathamalai is about 6 kms and will take about four hours for a reasonably fit person to ascend and approximately three hours to return back down to the base of the Hill. The walk starts on a pathway which gradually becomes filled with rocks and boulders. The incline is noticeably steeper and the last 2000 feet of the climb is assisted by iron rods and chains embedded into the rocks. 

The route to the top of the Hill is marked by white arrow markers painted on the rocks. There are some small shops and vendors at the earlier part of the climb where the Kadaladi trek pathway meets with the Thenmadimangalam route. 


 Pathway to the top of Parvathamalai


Direction Board

Beginning of Hike

Pathway with Rocks and Boulders

Beautiful Views Throughout Climb

Stones Painted with Direction Markers

Small Shop Enroute

Rocky Pathway Continues

Interspersed with Beautiful views

The last 1/4 distance consists of "Kadappaarai padhai" (the path supported by iron rods) and "Aghaaya padhai" (where the gap between the rocks is bridged by iron plates). There is an option to select between the steps or the Kadappaarai padhai. One has to be very careful throughout this part of the trek, especially during rains, as it may get slippery. 

Steps leading up the Hill

Kaddaparai
Photograph showing the difficult climb upwards

Reaching the top

Guru Mounaswamy Ashram

Lord Mallikarjuna Ishwara Temple


[I will be soon posting additional information and photographs of the Lord Mallikarajuna Iswara Temple at the top of Parvathaimalai] 

6 comments:

Itinerant Yogi said...

Wonderful post!

Anonymous said...

Yes, its excellent. Looking forward to part 4 of information on Parvathamalai. You have more information on your postings than any other source online. Thanks. Its great.

krishnachaitanya kadarla said...

Wonderful and excellent post. Iam planning to visit arunachala and do pradakshinas. Iam from hyderabad india.

Meenakshi Ammal said...

Thank you for your kind words regarding this post. Hope you enjoy your visit. Send an email with a report of your experience . . . sure readers would enjoy hearing more about Parvathamalai.

It is very unspoilt and am sure you will have a wonderful experience there.

sugi said...

Very useful information.

Ramesh said...

Dear Meenakshi Ammal,

Thanks a lot for very helpful / wonderful information on Arunachala, Parvathamalai etc. we have recently relocated to tiruvannamalai and your blogs help us a lot. You have inspired us to take a trip to Parvathamalai and seek blessings of the Lord.

Regards
Ramesh