The Thiruvannamalai Trip

For sometime we wanted to make a trip which involved a long drive. The New Year weekend offered a good opportunity for this.

For reasons irrelevant here, the chosen place was Thiruvannamalai. This place houses the famous temple of Lord Arunachaleswar. In addition, the place is also noted for Ramana Maharishi Ashram.

(Trivia: There are two Rajini movies/songs associated with this place. "Malai koil vasalil karthikai deepam..." song from the movie "Veera". "Athanda ethanda Arunachalam nan than da" from the movie "Arunachalam".)

Well! we are digressing, aren't we. The first thing was to figure out the route. MapMyIndia seemed to offer the best results for my query. It stated a distance of 205 km from my home - entirely covered by National Highway (NH 7 to Krishnagiri and from there NH 66). For some reason, it also said that the driving time was approximately 7.5 hours, which seemed too large for that distance, especially since it was not ghat section or such treacherous route.

The plan was to start at 6 AM, but we ended up leaving by 7, which wasn't too bad, especially since it was a Sunday. I had my first exposure to the elevated road construction happening in Hosur Road. We crossed the border and bypassed Hosur, courtesy a massive flyover. This route is fabulous - well maintained road - two large lanes each with landscaping in the separator.

We suddenly found ourselves in the midst of a traffic jam. The traffic moved at snail's pace for about 5 min, before we realised the cause. An accident in an intersection, involving a bus, a couple of cars and a lorry. It looked like it was a fatal one.

We then came across a Reliance Petrol bunk, where we fuelled. This also housed "A1 Plaza" an eatery, where we could have breakfast. The place was crowded with weekend travellers.

Once we passed that, it was smooth sailing till we reached the Toll Gate. It was Rs.38/- for a round trip (Rs.25/- one way) for cars.

We saw directions to Pondicherry, Chennai which involved taking a left turn. Further down, there was another right turn to NH66, which was to take us to Thiruvannamalai. This was a normal highway - no lanes and fancy stuff. As we proceeded, we began to encounter pot holes and boy, what pot holes! There were several sections, where the car scraped the ground and in other places, we had to ride really slow.

All this meant slow progress. While our original estimate was a 4.5 hour drive, this was now ruled out. It was 12.45 PM when we reached Thiruvallamalai. We saw people (lots of foreigners included) streaming out of a compound. This was the Ramana Maharishi Ashram.

We also discovered the temple would have closed.

Parking the car, we walked to the Ashram and went around the place. It is a beautiful place, very cool thanks to the vegetation. Many of the rooms were closed, but we could make out the samadhi, the prayer hall and other places. There were several peacocks, which attracted the attention of all. We took a few snaps.

We then looked around for a lunch place. This meant driving to the bus stand area. As we drove, we could see the gopuram of the temple.

We reached the bus stand and chose a hotel. The food was average. Having eaten, we went back to the temple and parked our vehicle. We went around the temple, admiring the gopuram and the outer perimeter wall. We took a few snaps.

The place was crowded with pilgrims of Melmaruvathur Athi parashakthi - all dressed in red.

We reached the main entrance and gathered that the temple was open. We went inside and around the temple. We had to pass several layers before entering the entrance to the main diety. The counter for "Special Darshan" (Rs.20/-) was prominent and it was difficult to make out where the "General Darshan" counter was. We decided to do the special darshan.

The darshan was good. There was an amman diety too, which we visited.

The temple resembled Madurai Meenakshi temple in layout, with 9 gopurams of various dimensions. The largest one, apparently is the second highest in South India (maybe next to Srirangam?).

It was 4.15 PM, when we were done with the temple. We then embarked on the return, since we needed to get back to Bangalore - it being a working day on Monday!

The return trip was less painful, since we were well aware of the pot holes in NH66. Even so, nightfall made the driving tricky, especially with the reckless use of high beams by vehicles.

Once we were on NH7, things were peaceful. It was 9.45 PM, when we reached Koramangala. We had dinner at Shanti Sagar before driving home.

Useful links

Official Temple site
Wikipedia, of course!


  1. Nice journey to Thiruvanna malai. Indeed I got the experience through your words, Its amazing place as you said and even worthful place to hang out on sunday or week-end days.

    Iam planning in near future to travel to the same.



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