Thursday, March 3, 2016

How to plan a trip to the mystic mountains Tiruvannamalai from Chennai (Part 2 of 2)

(See Part 1 for How to get to Tiruvannamalai and where to stay)
In this section, we cover What to do , shop and eat

3.What to do and Places to see

These things can be organised around 2~3 days depending on how aggressively or lazily you want to travel

a.Temple - About 2 hrs to see the temple - best time is evenings as it is less hot (early mornings is a tall order for me and family during vacations)

Tiruvannamalai temple and town - From route to Skandashramam
Tiruvannamalai temple gopuram at Dusk

b. Ramanashram - anytime when they are open. There are peacocks and monkeys. Children will enjoy the visit. They also have a beautiful book shop - I loved their note pads

Peacocks dancing freely at the Ashramam

c. Skandashramam - trekking is the one fun part of this trip and is entirely worth it. Carry water if you want. We were not much of a trekking family, but what started as a small climb to the ashram proved to be a very interesting climb. We went up with shoes and were glad we carried it across the Ramanashramam - there were several who went up bare feet too. The best times to trek up are mornings - check the timings at the Ashramam. They close at 6 pm I think and we just made it in the nick of time. Theres a beautiful place to meditate and some caves further down.

Skandasramam - Trek path
Skandasramam - Meditation rooms

d. Gingee fort (Raja Kottai and Rani Kottai) -will take you almost half a day from Tiruvannamalai. The place looks a little desolate from the outside but is actually very well maintained by ASI (Archeological Survey of India) . They collect a small fee but entirely worth it. It is also reasonably crowded so you feel safe once you enter it. (Obviously go during day time 10 am + and return before 4 PM - avoid Noon time climbs) The monkeys are a riot and someone should do something about it - they are a little unruly and sometimes snatch your camera or food packets - Take care
View from the top of the garden - ASI does a great job
Army Gymnasium

Raja Kottai - From the base

e. Girivalam - Not recommended if you cannot walk about 14 kms on concrete road around the temple/mountain.(Mt Arunachal) Usually people plan this in the evening/night. I did not do this round except by car to get a feel for the route, so I don't know how it feels

The Mystic mountain - Grows in reverence on you

4. Shopping and eating out

a. Shopping area for local handicrafts - Shanthimalai is a local handicrafts shop in the main road outside Ramanashramam. It was started by Dr. Hugo Maier. The shops nice for an evening out shopping.

b. Food at Ramanashramam/Sparsa

We ate mostly at Sparsa. Their restaurant is good but several people have told us that Ramanashramam is a great place to eat and you can donate whatever you feel like against stay and food.

d. Lonely planet gives a lot of eateries - will probably try them on the next trip

Post 1: 1. How to get there and 2.Where to stay
Post 2: 3. What to see 4. Where to shop and eat


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