The other side of the mountain

Yesterday Rachel and I took a leisurely stroll about on the west corner of the flatlands on the north side of Arunachala – gesture of affection on all sides; we began at Kannappa with the graceful forested path along the foothills of The Feet of Siva until we were accosted by the huge earthworks of a new water catchment area, one of six supervised by AnnadamKumar:


The horizon on your left as you walk along the dam contains the magnificent summit of Parvathimalai:


There’s far too much barbed wire about over here – part of the collatoral damage of Progress, although seeing healthy fruit trees planted in one enclosure does compensate.

(Excuse this interruption, but some of the images have automatically snuck in at the very end of this posting; I learned something here about uploading using the iPad MacTech. There will be improvement.)

We were pleased to find the tiny stone lined ancient water tank in good condition:

A brand new pilgrim trap is emerging just after the little tank, with orange cloth draped about various honoured stones and some idols all ready and waiting, with little oil lamps that the sadhu primes when he hears approaching voices; this is neat because of course the pilgrims often stop at the little tank just within earshot, especially foreign pilgrims walking on the inner path who often no doubt – feeling the expansive influence of water, relax and chat.

We walked down the stream bed past this burgeoning business because my hidden agenda was to take a photo of Kasivishwanathan’s land with its pits nicely dug in rows, which he plans to develop:


Kasivish needs to excavate and bund the sides of the stream and provide a bridge for access to this land. After we cross this now dry stream we come across mud-brick makers who excavate the good topsoil of agriculture lands to make and fire the bricks for new construction:

Our human expansion is doubly detrimental to the environment here since apart from taking precious topsoil, vast amounts of wood are necessary to fire the bricks.

A couple of fields later the track suddenly becomes Tarmac through urban development, with all the beauty of brilliant modern house paint and pretty groups of ladies washing clothes in the shade:

We turn a corner and face the temple walls. The lingam in this temple is much older than the famous one in the town, although it is usually slightly neglected, with a touch of the decrepitude of the surrounding village in unpleasant smells, bats flitting and shitting about, and the special of the day today: a woman screeching at length into a cellphone in the fabulously resonate stone hall. Here below you see the once beautiful outer prakaram with the most feminine of views; the wonderful granite flagstones that once massaged our feet were rendered past tense about fifteen years ago by the modern pouring of concrete after an active swamy received loads of lovely money from prestigious devotees for renovations:

As we left the temple, pleased to find our chappals still waiting, a swarm of lady beggars accosted us – their faces festooned with need and greed – immediately outside the huge temple doors, I noticed the sweet little row of houses where once I considered taking up residence for the superb beauty of the hill view:


Outside the north wall of the temple a curious rectangle of rubble suggested the bashing up of the venue for some kind of ritual; I wondered that kids didn’t make something of it but then this is an entirely different culture:


Just before the junction with the main road we passed the beautiful little old fashioned house I have admired for three decades on the left and the loudest business in AdiAnnamalai on our right, evoking the chasm lying between recent generations.



My favourite mobile shop stopped for a photo on the road and while I was busy with this – checking for tomatoes and enquiring if the shipman would be calling in to my village that day – Rachel arranged for us to miss the road walk back to Kannappa by auto:





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