Sunday, September 26, 2010

Discovering the Ramana Maharshi Ashram in Tiruvannamalai

After six days in Pondicherry, it was time to leave my nice room with sea view at the Park Guest House and continue with my journey to Tiruvannamalai. The decision was not that difficult; when I went to the reception to pay I said "maybe I will stay another couple of days" and they answered, "No, you can't."

I asked why not and they said that the room was already booked so I said "I thought it wasn't possible to book a room in advance" and the lady replied, "YOU can't.... only devotees that we know can book in advance". Grrrr.

Three hours and a half later I was already in Tiruvannamalai.

As usual, the bus station was not that pleasant but I found a rickshaw right away to take me to the Ramana Maharshi Ashram so I could look for a place to stay somewhere nearby.

The first impression that I had was not that nice. The bus station was horrible, the road to the ashram was a mess and in construction and everything around look so hectic except for the entrance to the ashram. I was very glad to have arrived during the day.

I went to the first accommodation that I could find, the Arunachala Ramana Home, and it was very disappointing. The lonely planet says "Basic rooms, clean and friendly." I would say "Very basic, not clean but certainly friendly."

The bathroom had no sink so I had to brush my teeth standing in front of the toilet with the shower on my back. And they wanted to charge me 350 rupees! After paying 450 for a room in Pondicherry four times bigger and a lot nicer I was certainly not going to pay that amount.

So I did my best at bargaining and I got it for 150 but I had to stay for two nights. Not a big deal but certainly not a place to stay for very long (maybe I got a bit spoiled in Pondy).

The next day I found a nice room in a house for the same price but much bigger, nicer and cleaner and the family was lovely. They have the funniest dog I've ever seen. They call her Rossi, she is completed terrified by people.

The nice house where I stayed

Rossi hiding behind the bicycle

Just like in Pondicherry life turns around Sri Aurobindo and The Mother, in Tiruvannamalai everything spins around Ramana Maharshi. 

But somehow the vibe in Tiruvannamalai is different, more special I think, so special that two days became soon 8 days. Perhaps because it is a place a lot more spiritual compared to Pondicherry.

The Ramana Maharshi Ashram is the main "attraction", it is a very beautiful and peaceful place with a very special atmosphere, but there are many other ashrams around and many temples. The main temple is the Arunachaleswar Temple, one of the largest in India.

The second main attraction from Tirivunnamalai is Mount Arunachala which the locals believe is Lord Shiva himself.

Arunachaleswarar temple in Tiruvanamalai
Arunachaleswarar Temple, Tiruvannamalai

Arunachaleswarar temple in Tiruvanamalai
Arunachaleswarar temple view from mount Arunachala

So I spend my days in Tiruvannamalai visiting the ashram, meeting some nice people, finding a nice place to eat, visiting some temples and climbing a few times Mont Arunachala to visit the Virupaksha Cave where Ramana Maharshi lived for about 16 years.

You can find more information about what to do in Tiruvannamalai and about the Sri Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi Ashram in:

And to prepare for your trip to India I can recommend you to read: What to Pack for Your Next Travel and Yoga Adventure to India

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