Sunday, October 10, 2010


Hello! Our internet hasn’t been working since Wednesday, but I’m back! This weekend we took a trip to a place called Tiruvannamalei (or Tiru, for short.) It’s very flat around here, but in Tiru a mountain randomly pops up, called Arunachala.  It’s said to be the actual body of the god Shiva, so it is very spiritually significant. Many people make the pilgrimage to go to the mountain.  With the help of google and other people’s pictures, I have some pictures for you!
The temple and the mountain in the background
We stayed at an ashram, called the Sri Ramanashram.  Sri Ramana lived in a cave on the mountain for more than 17 years, just meditating. If people hadn’t found him and fed him and took care of him, he wouldn’t  have eaten and he would have let the rats and bugs eat him.  Friday afternoon when we arrived, we were able to hike up to the cave and go inside.  We ate our meals at the ashram, and they were very efficient! Volunteers would set banana leaves or other smaller leaves sewn together to make plates out in rows. Then they would usher us in and give us water. Somebody would then come around with a bucket of rice and throw a scoop on each person’s leaf, and then people would follow with different vegetable dishes and curries. I’m not really sure what exactly we were eating, but everybody just mixes it all together and it tastes good! And of course, we eat with our hands. Well, just the right hand. When you finish eating, you fold your leaf towards you and go wash you hands. It was a very quick process.

feeding the monkeys at the ashram

Saturday morning, we left at 6am to make the journey around the base of the mountain. It’s about 14 km, and if you walk clockwise, it’s supposed to be the Hindu version of washing away your sins.  It was very peaceful until the last 4 km, when we walked through the heart of the city. I really enjoyed being able to walk and not talk or be distracted, but just to be. A dog found us right after we started and followed us the whole  way! We also went to the main temple in the evening. It has huge gates that have hundreds of carved statues on them. I can’t imagine how long it took to build them. There was music and dancing because it was goddess week, and we also went inside some of the temples. The biggest one is for Shiva, but there were smaller temples for the other gods and goddesses.

Sunday morning, we woke up early to climb the mountain. I was walking with a few other girls, and right at the beginning an Indian man told us to go a different way.  One of the staff for our group is from here and spoke to him in Tamil, and said we should follow him. He led us to a path that went straight up. Which was great, but then the path ended. We had a great time climbing over boulders, fighting our way through waist deep 
On the way up! I'm in the middle of the 3 people
grass, getting stung by wasps and enjoying the breeze, the view, and being with nature.  We figured we should just keep going up until we can’t anymore! We reached the top in about 2 hours, and it was so peaceful and amazing. And cold! It was definitely nice to be shivering instead of sweating. It was fun to look down at the city and still be able to hear car horns blarring and the hustle and bustle of life, but be so far removed from it. It was also the first time I really felt that I was breathing fresh air. On the way down, I ended up walking with one other girl from our group and a German woman about our age that we had seen around the ashram and met at the top. It was fun talking to her.  She started struggling to remember words in English, and the other girl I was with knew some German, so we spoke in German for a few minutes.  It seems easier to connect with other foreigners in India.  After we reached the bottom, we showered, packed, and made our way home.  I really enjoyed getting out of Auroville and seeing a place like that!

The people that climbed to the top!
The guy on the far left isn't actually in our group -
he's a german volunteer than we've kind of adopted
so he came along!
I just realized the internet is out again so hopefully I can post this before next week!

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