Home land of innumerable siddha purushas!
Sathuragiri sthala puranam says, in olden days, the complete forests were divided into many vanams (forests), where in each vanam, one siddha lived in a kudil (hut) and did penance with many disciples. There were many kings, who came to these divine forests, stayed for years with these Maha-Munis and Siddhas and led a spiritual life. Kings were taught on Dharma shastras by these Maha-Gurus.
Sathuragiri still houses many “Kaya-kalpa” herbs. Sidhdha gurus had different methodologies to eat these herbs and make body “Kalpa-deham”. Once the mortal body attains this level with help of herbs, they practiced “pranayama”, to attain immortality. This information has been given by various Siddhas in their works. Sthala puranam details how a King Dharmarthan came to these forests, stayed one year each with each of the 18 Sidhdhas, and finally became a Sidhdha himself, with some other Royals.
When we walk in the Sathuragiri trek, and cross almost half the distance, we cross “Maha Sidhdhar Ramadevar Vanam”. Here is where the most revered “Rettai Lingam” exists. We will see that story later, but let us get to know “Maha Sidhdhar Rama Devar” first.
Ramadevar is also a great siddha, who lived for yugas in this hill and developed his siddhis. He, particularly mastered medicine, and on orders from Lord Shiva, went to desert ridden Arabian countries, and lived there for long, with a name of “Yacobu Sidhdhar”. He wrote many books in Arabian language, and there are Sidhdhar poems which means that Jesus met this great Siddha in Himalayas, and learnt many treatises himself. Further explanations, will not have much literature proof, so we shall drop this at this point. His jeeva peedam is believed to be in “Alagarmalai”.
I have always seen – Once you cross Rettai Lingam sannidhi, halfway up the trek, everyone turns gold in nature, perfectly helping each other, offering chocolates / glucose to others on the way, even ice-creams, carrying others’ bag to help them and many other things. I used to laugh myself; it’s all because of vibrations of these great Gurus in the hill. Once you come down to adivaram, all normal stories and fights in bus for a seat starts 🙂
Good. We have already prayed “Karu-Pana swamy” in the adivaram for a safe trip, and now we start walking. Now on, finding a normal ground will be very difficult. You can see some stretch of normal walking path, only after crossing 75% trek. We slowly walk on the rocky terrain, and the stones are not perfectly shaped. Bits and pieces of normal path do exist in the way though.
This photo should give you a fair opinion on how the trip will be now. As said, we have already lost 30 crucial minutes in the adivaram, to have a darshan of all deities, and the sun will be already rising up our heads.
My earliest start has been around 8.45 AM, reaching Sundara Mahalingam temple around 11.45 AM. Slowest start was at 10.45 AM, and it took 2 PM to reach to the top, with Agni Natchatram hanging up, and sun lord being merciless, I should say. It was my brother who pushed me up, whenever I sat down, making me reach so early. First timers, plan for 2 days, and from next time, you can climb up and down in a single day. It’s an awesome 22 kms trekking on a single day!!!
Alright. If we walk normally from the sidhdha peedam we saw in last part, without any tiredness, after 10 mins, we will reach “Kudhirai ootru”. It’s believed in ancient times, horses were rested at this point when kings used to visit this hill.
The first time I went through this, water was flowing till my thighs, and after that trip, it got totally dried up. Seeing the dried hills without water is a real pain and people wasting natural resources should be forced to see this, is my opinion.
In case there is water, don’t hesitate to keep your legs in flowing water for a minute. It really removes all pain in your legs and makes it feel fresh.
After crossing kuthirai-ootru, in normal case, it takes 7 minutes to reach this spot. It is slightly steep and also slippery in nature, but the first time, I didn’t realize it to be a practice session to climb next big steep 🙂 if there is water, be careful, to climb on this. Water oozes from the nearby rock in the way we walk. Dried seasons, it’s a cake walk. But beware, on one side, there is a huge valley, which we will roll upon, in case we don’t walk properly and skid.
Athiri Maharishi Vanam / Vettu – Paarai:
We continue walking for next 8 minutes again to reach “Athiri Maharishi Vanam”.
Athiri Maharishi – Anusuya Devi couple is well known. One of the Saptha-Rishis, parents of Dattatreya (a blessing of trinity themselves), Chandra and Durvasa rishi. Anusuya devi is well known for her chasity.
Though much data is not seen in sthala puranam, might be this divine couple lived here in Sathuragiri also for some time.
Notwithstanding, this point is also important, because of two other reasons:
1) You have the first shop inside the hill here nearby, with a pleasant water stream (dried up in summer). Glucose, water bottles, Sukku coffee are all available here.
2) One of the two steepest climbs is here 🙂 The Vettu paarai, which takes your strength out, is just across water body.
Climbing is very easy, in case you understand and remember the technique. Bend slightly in forward direction when you climb up. You will neither become tired nor stop on the way. People don’t understand this, climb upright, and become tired half way. Also look out for monkeys in the rocks nearby.
In case you have sufficient energy, skip the first shop and climb this Vettu-paarai. Some 15 steps above, you have the next shop. Lemon juice with salt is an excellent energizer. In case you don’t mind for money, ask them to open a new water bottle and make lime juice. It will safe-guard your health for sure 🙂
Rested here for 10 mins, since we have completed 25% of our trek 🙂
Started off again and walked for 4 mins. Reached “Kona Thalai Vaasal”.
There is nothing significant historically, but practically, you are on the toughest point on the trek. These close to 25 steps are the steepest part, and on seeing this I really feel happy, since once we cross them, the remaining trek is simple compared to this. The first time I went, literally I was out of energy after vettu paarai. So sat down for long time and walked to this part.
Seeing the steepness, I sat down again to have some glucose. Took the packet in hand, when a monkey suddenly came to me and made a noise. I understood clearly, it’s demanding the packet, so gave it. It patiently opened the green wrapper and eloped with the packet. See how he had it!!!
Re-confirming that there were no other monkeys around, I opened a small parry toffee. There was a small sound, from the side. I was surprised; a small monkey came to me, sat near me, and stretched its hand, as if small children ask for biscuits at home. I was so surprised at its behavior, that I gave the toffee. It ate and left. Later crossed this part and started trekking. Remember one thing. If women are walking up, better sit down and rest till they complete climbing. They are physically less equipped for this part, and often stand and block the way for others.
After we walk some distance, we get to see this board. This converges another route from “Theni – Kumbum” and also is the route to “Maaligai Paarai Karuppa swamy” temple.
Crossed this and we need to walk in similar rocky terrains for another 15 minutes, to reach “Kaaram Pasu Thadam”.
It is another interesting story, and we will see that in next part!