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Girivalam – Tiruvannamalai Arunachaleshwar Parikrama

Arunachaleshwar or Annamalai Hill - Girivalam

Girivalam is parikrama or pradakshina of Arunachaleshwara hill located in Tiruvannamalai town of Tamil Nadu. The town is also famous for Ramana Maharishi Ashram. In fact the sage was so fond of the hill that he saw it as embodiment of Shiva. He used to say that while Kashi and Ujjain are the abodes of Shiva, this hill is Shiva himself. So, living in its vicinity is living close to Shiva.

As we drove from Bangalore to Tiruvannamali, we saw several rocky outcrops in various shapes. All of them looked interesting and then we also saw the huge granite industry surrounding them.

What is Girivalam?

Girivalam is a parikrama or circumambulation of a hill. The hill in this case is Arunachaleshwar – the sacred hill at Tiruvannamali.

Indian pilgrimage places have a long standing tradition of Parikrama around sacred geographies. Remember I did the famous Panch Kroshi Yatra of Kashi Kshetra some time ago. Sacred hills and mountains are embodiments of the divine and hence it is a tradition to go around them on foot.

Arunachaleshwar or Annamalai Hill - Girivalam
Arunachaleshwar or Annamalai Hill

At Arunchaleshwar, the tradition is to go around the hill on foot, always keeping the hill on your right. It reminded me of the Govardhan Parikrama that I had done in Braj a few years ago.

General Rules

You are advised to walk on the left of the road as the rishis are supposed to be walking on the right side of the path.

Walk in silence while being focussed on the hill or Shiva. You can also chant a mantra.

They say walk like a heavily pregnant woman, slow and steady.

Is it tough?

It is a rather easy Parikrama though when you hear 14 kms, it sounds tough. The road is well laid out with a broad footpath to walk. It is a plain walk, with almost no incline anywhere, so if you can walk, you can easily do it.

Girivalam MapGirivalam Map
Girivalam Map

There are shelters at regular intervals where you can take refuge in case it rains or if you need shade.

Benches are available throughout the path to sit and relax for some time. Tea stalls and soda vendors line the path. You will see people taking small breaks here and there. There are eateries as well, but they often open after 8 AM.

It is advisable to do the walk as early as possible in the morning, as it tends to get hot and humid after sunrise. Do carry something to cover you head.

Footpaths are dotted with sadhus and sanyasis, some of who are performing satsang, and some who are sleeping on the path.

Forest Path Vs the Road?

There are two paths that go around the…

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