The full moon girivalam this month (i.e. Chithirai Pournami 2016) will be the busiest girivalam of this year (excluding that of the full moon circumambulation during the Mahadeepam Festival). For this reason be aware crowds will be HUGE. So make sure that you have no important deadlines to catch . . . as once you start the girivalam there really will be no way back -- can't go against the tide of humanity coming towards you.
There will be many Ashrams and Temples giving prasad off the girivalam roadway . . . so no reason to take food. But if you have problem feet don't be shy to put your sandals in a bag to take along and put on if necessary. Many devotees wearing shoes will be performing girivalam. The roadway is not the idyllic one of yesteryear with cooling grass and soft earth to protect one's feet. Nowadays the pathway will be hot, dirty and gravel crusted.
Also please understand that bad people as well as good people visit pilgrim areas, especially during times of heavy crowds and special functions. Do NOT carry unnecessary valuables and cash with you. There will be many thieves on the roadway to relieve you. This applies to women as well as men. I myself was robbed by women while pulling the Maharadham Chariot one Mahadeepam Festival. My handbag (which was tucked tightly under my arm) was slit from behind with a razorblade. Luckily the inner lining of the bag prevented the robber taking my valuables.
Chithirai Pournami is a wonderful celebratory occasion. The Municipality has made great and loving effort in providing extra facilities for visiting Devotees. Please ensure by using commonsense that your visit is wonderful.
The below map of facilities, first aid stations etc., are listed in this map which the Thiruvanamalai Municipality has released especially for this Chithirai Pournami.
Chithirai Pournami Arunachala Timings
Start: 21 April, 2016 9.54 a.m.
Complete: 22 April, 2016 11.53 a.m.