Read about this hill in early days of my career in Sakthi Vikatan magazine. It was an article series which I read for months together with interest.
There were many miracles listed in it.
- Dogs accompany people if they get lost inside forest.
- Some people saw Siddhars with very bright eyes glowing in darkness. They are taller than 7 ft in height.
- One person was blessed and given sacred ash by an elderly gurukkal, who went inside the Mahalingam sannidhi and never came out…when he wanted to see him again; people said “There is no elderly gurukkal at all here”.
- On Full moon days, or even Amavasya days a light used to come down from sky and land in Thavasi parai, and move, as if someone is walking.
- One person, when he reached Mahalingam sannidhi, on a Amavasya night, actually saw a group of Siddhars, sitting in a circle and chanting mantras. No one’s eyelid stuck even once for hours, and their mantra spells were highly uniform.
I read much more than this. Very dramatic and cinematic I should say.
General belief about the hill:
Nevertheless, I wished to visit this sacred hill, for the very pleasure of seeing Lord Shiva. Many pieces of information which I got prevented me at that stage from visiting…
You have to walk inside forest for around 7 kms…there will be wild animals and quick streams of water which you need to cross carefully. Throughout the way to the top, there will not be anything to eat / drink, but for the natural water falls, which flow in forest. In case you are lost in jungle, you need help to come out…and more than that, there will not be people to walk with you, other than No moon and Full moon days (Amavasya & Pournami). An established mutt, called as Kanji madam is there at the top, where you can get something to eat and drink, once you walk up. There are many places to visit, which you can do with the help of local tribal people there. Women can rarely go, as it’s a long way. Host of many other things also.
Ground reality??? We shall see, as and when required, as we walk down this travelogue.
In late 2006, one day, when myself and my friend Jothi were talking in our DGB Microsystems office about Sathuragiri, our friend Alagu gnana Guru intervened and told, “Hey I am from Watrap. In case you need any help, let me know!!!” Later on, I moved 3 companies, and landed in my present job. Meanwhile, Jothi alone visited the hill more than half a dozen times 🙂 Everytime after he visits, he used to call happily and tell me, “ Palani, sathuragiri poitu vanthuten !!! Next time kattayama ungala kootittu poren!” Somehow, this never happened. But my eagerness was growing.
Ambitious Thought of a Sathuragiri Trip:
After my son was born in Feb-2011, I had lot of spare time, and I thought I shall visit this sacred hill. My doubt always was, will I get someone to walk with, in case I go alone. I started forming a group of 4…Me, Jothi, my brother Sakthi, and my +2 class-mate and a 15 years old friend from Thanjavur, Balu. Every time we planned, Jothi or Balu used to be the leg-pullers. Trust me, we planned together 8 times to visit, and it never became fruitful.
In the initial trip cancellations, I felt angry on the leg-puller guy and then in later cancellations, felt sorry for not being able to travel to such a divine hill. 8th cancellation was too heavy to take. After all, with adequate money in hand, and all the planning, we couldn’t make it out. In between my friend got married, and their custom was not to visit a hill temple within a year. So, one wicket had gone. Remaining 3 people and, again some last minute cancellations.
I had almost given off hope that I will visit this hill once in life by this time. Then suddenly a thought came to me…why not go with my brother alone on a full moon day? My parents didn’t allow for a few months, since it’s a forest. Somehow I persuaded them that we will go only once. Reluctantly they accepted. Did all the bookings, inquired on lodges to refresh, and prepared to leave that evening. Happily, went to the nearby temple, to pray Vinayaga peruman for a successful trip.
Remember this, whenever you want to do something, pray Vinayaga. He will definitely stand next to anyone who asks his help, and do things for him!
I saw a person in a two-wheeler, who was fighting on his mobile with someone, and I crossed the road. He went pass me, came again to me, hit me with his two-wheeler and left the place…Idiot, I thought and came home. Was laughing at the incident, but my mother told “Sagunam sari illa…don’t go…” This time, I suffered monetary loss, since they were tatkal tickets, and IRCTC didn’t have the courtesy to return my money back 🙂
It was November 2012. I decided finally….enough is enough…No one this time…no omens, no signals, nothing. I prostrated before Lord Agastheeswarar in Valasaravakkam and prayed an entry ticket. Finally the chance came my way.
The full moon day was fast approaching. I again did all the reservations, but this time in SRS travels, since they gave an option to convert ticket as a cash coupon (and use it later), in case we cancel our trip. Got two days leave, since many blogs told, we need a day to climb up and day to climb down.
Did a bit of packing. 2 sets of dress, blanket, jerkin, in case it rains. Once I did the packing, remembered Alagu was from Watrap. Called him up for help, and his father was very gracious in arranging a trip to Thaniparai. That trip definitely happened because of his father, more than my own friend…should thank them anyday 🙂
26th Nov 2012 was a gifted day for me, when I finally traveled towards the sacred hills, by a sleeper bus from Bangalore. Reached Srivilliputhur in morning. Let’s see how to reach Sathuragiri, before we start walking up the hill.
Travel plan, for any day, anyone:
1) Plan to reach Srivilliputhur by evening, or early in the morning.
2) Night travel: From Chennai, you have SRS travels, KPN travels to reach by bus, and Pothigai express, in case you need train.
3) Destination is Srivilliputhur.
4) From the drop point, ask auto for Thangam lodge. Very excellent budget hotel, just 500mts from Srivilliputhur bus-stand.
5) Rooms will be available on all normal days, other than Muhurat days. Better to have a reservation. Contact no. : 04563-260337.
6) After refreshment, walk to bus-stand. In case you are single, take a bus to Watrap. Rs 10/- ticket and 45 mins of journey.
7) Once you are in Watrap bus stand, there are multitudes of share-autos to Thaniparai adivaram. Rs 15/- for this 7 kms trip. You reach the Forest range gate.
8) If you are in a group of three or more, take an auto to reach Thanipparai adivaram from Srivi. It costs Rs 350/- It saves golden time in the morning, saving at least 15 mins, giving you a room to start early in the hill.
9) In case you come from Madurai, get down in Krishnankoil, 10 kms before Srivi, and take a bus / share-auto to Watrap. After this, its one and the same.
Dos and don’ts:
1) Before leaving Srivi, take a light breakfast. Avoid pongal-vada, I have seen many people getting tired, even before starting off at the adivaram.
2) Reach as early as possible to the adivaram. Once the sun comes up, walking on the hill becomes difficult.
3) Don’t imagine the hill with lot of trees on your side and you will walk in shadows. To your right, you will have high rocks, and to your left, you will have a 250 ft deep valley when you climb. Further very less air circulation will be there.
4) Keep your luggage short and sweet. If you are a first-timer, don’t mind to go empty handed, with just some water, chocolates and some glucose. Lord Shiva will not scold you for not having a bath / changing clothes in the hill 🙂
5) Have adequate money in hand. Everything is terribly costly, due to carrying charges on the hill. 1 ltr water bottle is sold at 50/-. My friend in a trip, got lemon juice for Rs30/- a glass!
6) You will face at least a 100 people asking for alms. Have change in hand, if you wish to give money to beggars.
7) Many people climb the hill without slippers / foot-wear. Don’t mind wearing them / even trekking shoes. People accustomed to city life like me, are by all means highly unfit to walk this distance and go bare-footed. You will end up tearing your muscles.
8) There are intermediate stops, in form of many deities and other religious places. Keep a camphor packet and a match box.
9) The hill is full of monkeys at many places. They have snatched my bag too. Be careful, not to keep valuables in them.
10)I tried wearing jeans, cotton trousers, and once a dhoti. Dhoti for a male is by far the most convenient dress to climb up. It prevents rubbing of cloth with your knees when you climb, thereby reducing lot of pain, which you will see otherwise.
11)Keep a torch, if you wish to walk into the forest at night. I would advice other ways. Walk in broad day light with sufficient people accompanying you. Last time I went, people ran down the hill, in the evening around 6 pm, after spotting a huge bear near Pilavadi Karuppar Sannidhi. Take care to walk safe and return safe.
12)Always remember, you are walking into one of the most sacred hills in this entire world. Avoid carrying cigarettes, beer bottles and other unwarranted items inside the hill. I have seen many bottles there in the way. People do come there for a pleasure trip / trek. This hill is not meant for these activities. Abstain from doing these, please!
13)You are expected to walk on uneven rocks up and down. In case you need a stick to trek, get it in adivaram itself.
14)Don’t carry much plastic items / covers. In the entrance, there are service organizations, which will replace them with cloth bags. Voluntary service, for saving nature!
15)Doli service is available for elderly people, in case it is required. Phone numbers are written in blue paint, in many places, which you can call and get this service. I think it’s around 4000 per person up and down.
16)In case you plan to visit Thavasi paarai and offer your prayers, you need 2 days. Plan for it accordingly.
17)Wear very light slippers, because, once you start walking through the rocks, half-way, you will feel your knees becoming dumb, and very non-co-operative 🙂
Once you reach Thaniparai adivaram, you get to see lot of shops and fruit-sellers. In case you carry heavy luggage, you can keep them in the shops. They return it pretty safe, when you come and ask for it.
After all my travel to Thaniparai adivaram, I was standing in front of this gate.
“Periya Karthigai” star was yet to commence, and I was standing in the God’s own house !!! Blessed I am!
……. We shall continue our journey inside, together !