Wednesday, June 16, 2010



Hello friends, I have created this blog to share my experiences on my tour cum pilgrimage of places quite famous like Tirupati-Tirumala, Tiruvannamalai, etc but had covered so many interesting other aspects of the same destinations. I am so happy to start with Tirupati-Tirumala.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010


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Tirumala is such a beautiful pilgrimage centre for anyone – I have been to many other temples but here it is like you are in a vast ocean of bliss and happiness wherever you are up the hills and when you see the main deity Lord Venkateswara – you will know that you are mesmerized for those moments and will not be able to take off your eyes easily. To me its like he is there looking at you, listening to the prayers in your heart and answering it. Hmmmmmm….sorry if I am talking religious. Main intention of this blog is to share the experiences I had when trying to explore some of the sacred theerthams in the forest side of the hills.


In General we all know about SRIVARI PUSHKARNI – one of the sacred theertham in the hill where all pilgrims will take bath. Other than this, we can visit AKASH GANGA THEERTHAM and PAPANASAM FALLS. There is also GOGARBA THEERTHAM on the way to PAPANASAM exactly where we go over a dam kind of bridge. Also we have JABALI THEERTHAM which is also accessible to all pilgrims.

I would like to take you all through some of the other theerthams that is quite into the forest and not accessible to general public easily or without permission from the TTD or Forest departments.



Many of us would not have known about the KAPILA THEERTHAM that is located at the foothills of TIRUMALA before we start climbing hills. Info on KAPILA THEERTHAM is given below….


This is on the way from Tirupati Railway Station/ Bus stand to the foothills of tirumala hills about 3 kms from bus stand. Landmark is called as ‘Nandi Circle’. This has a temple dedicated to Lord Shiva and is said that we should pray to him first and then to climb on to see Lord Venkateswara. This temple has a waterfall that is said to be the mix of 63 sacred theerthams in tirumala. This is seasonal (from October till January/ February) and is good for an enjoyous bath like in any other famous waterfall.

Kapila Theertham near Nandi Circle - this will be a very scenic waterfall during the season

Monday, June 14, 2010



At Papanasam, you will see a dam bridge access to which is restricted. Theerthams discussed below are all coming on the other side of the bridge….

To set an introduction…, We wanted to explore the theerthams in the risky forest zone; we do not have any trekking experience; we do not know what kind of wild animals will be there – though we know leopards or quite often seen in this forest; we do not have much knowledge on how to tackle any such emergencies and we never feared or even had a single thought of facing troubles in the forest!. All that we (just two of us) will do as preparation to these explorations is….reaching papanasam early in the day, buying some food (biscuits, fruits), water bottles for us and not even carry a small knife with us for safety – because we really didn’t think from the safety corner at all.


This is a theertham that is across the bridge of papanasam and in the forest. It is quite closer after you go across the bridge - say about 1.5 kms. Theertham will have clear water collected in a tank and behind this is stands a huge mountain wall with a cave in it. When I saw this for the first time, I was little hesitant to go close to take a look at the cave. See pictures.

Cave little behind the theertham from a distance....

Enter and lie down on the stone bed inside....

Sunday, June 13, 2010



This is a theertham that is little far into the forest area of the hills. I would love to explain my experience which I think might interest you as well.

Across the papanasam bridge, you will have to walk across one range to its other end - into deep forest and then into a flat land area where now some construction work is also going on – A dam I guess. After this you will have to climb down a steepy down path which will end in a stream – mostly dry! This stream will not be flowing with much water though there will be ponds here and there on its way and little slippery too. In my first visit, we managed reaching until this stream. You should also understand you will not get any mobile signals or anyone else on the way to check where you are and which way to go to the theertham unless and otherwise you are lucky. Okay, after we reached this stream, I saw a dripping of water on the other side of the river which I thought should be the theertham.

River path leading to Kumaradhara

Another snap of the river path

We were about to return and saw some TTD staff coming on the way luckily. Seeing us, they asked in a loud voice “Kumaradhara?” and asked us to go further. So, we continued walking down the river path and this river path…had water collections here and there which is slippery and then finally ended in a water fall like edge…it became really confusing for us and we do not know where to go further. We thought we missed the route somewhere and thought our attempt failed and was about to move back. Again the same TTD people were crossing over and asked us to go further and then went before us and disappeared at the edge. I went a little close to see and saw an iron ladder to about 30-40 feet height in which they were climbing down. This is not a proper iron ladder to climb down as it has no side guards or anything but still we have decided to climb it down. As we climbed down…. It is so amazing that you will see yourself in the womb of the mountains … covered by mountains all around and you are in the stomach kind of place created by these mountains around - so quiet and silent and down there on one side there is a big valley path that leads to deeps somewhere which we didn’t gather any courage to explore….on one side you will see the KUMARADHARA theertham flowing and it is quite small only. One side is an amazing cave where you will see some idols and this cave is also quite interesting – one cannot crawl in as it is too small but you will see so many beams naturally coming in between and showing different different routes inside it…

Risky Iron Ladder and TTD staff...........

Risky Iron Ladder and TTD staff...........

Theertham Waterfall is not quite impressive but we went for a dip in it and realized that this theertham is so cold and enjoyable for anybody who is coming to take a dip in it… Place around is so.. so amazing. You can enjoy all these only if you do not worry about any wild animals otherwise we will not be able to enjoy anything here. This was our first experience into the tirumala forests to reach Kumaradhara and it is quite interesting and memorable and so we have planned to visit other falls - Tumburu next time.

....or 'womb of the mountains'


Saturday, June 12, 2010


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This is a theertham that is about 6 kms across papanasam by the downhills of the range on the other side of the bridge. On the way you will see sanagana sanandhana theertham. You will have to walk across this Sanagana Sanandhana Theertham to go to Tumburu. After our earlier success with Sanandhana theertham and Kumaradhara theertham, we didn’t worry or care a lot about going to Tumburu theertham and so we set ourselves on a trip to Tumburu on our third visit. After going a little further from Sanandhana theertham into the forests, we realized that it is only we two all alone in the forest and walking, walking, walking. We have been following the yellow arrow marks and saw a signage in Telugu on the way which was mentioning which theertham is in which direction and how many kilometers away.

Signage on the way......

In our first attempt, we came across a place where there are some white arrow marks that leads to the sideways of that hill steep down into bushy, rocky and creepy area, we thought there is a theertham there and we started climbing down this risky zone and some of the rocks on the way on which we stepped - it rolled down and the path down doesn’t seem like someone would have used that route at all….climbing down ….climbing down ….with every possibility of dying by a snake or any other poisonous bite or if any wild animals we do not stand a chance to escape as the route down is that risky….we reached the side downhills and there is a stream that is running through and we were not seeing any waterfalls looking like a theertham and as the stream is so tempting we started taking bath in this and spent some time there and started climbing back to the side top hills and we walked back to Papanasam ending our first attempt.

The water body we saw on our first attempt....

In our second attempt (after some months after the first attempt) we went across this place and we slowly slowly realized we are moving down the hills amidst deep thick forest and surrounded by deep thick trees, bushes and we were just following the path that was taking us through - following the yellow arrow marks which we missed at times and finally this ended into a stream (should be another point where the same stream in which we dipped last time) Water is so clear and had fishes in it swimming here and there and this is again the down hills on the other side and it became scary for us as we were surrounded by big sized ant-hills where the snakes will live – you can imagine if this is more than 6 feet high. Water stream continued moving deep into the forest and we didn’t gather enough courage to go further that time – not knowing which direction to take. So we returned sadly and on the way we made strong decisions to visit theertham for sure by next time.

Scary Ant-hills, Isn't this actually "snake-hill"?

Stream...down mountains...

Our third attempt –

On this trip (after some months), we started a little early and reached across the papanasam hills by around 9.30 am in the morning. And started walking straight to Tumburu non-stop and reached the foothills on the other side within 1.15 mins and again into the same stream and this time we walked across the stream and started walking on the sides of the hill on the other side of the stream. We have earlier heard about this from people who had visited Tumburu. They have explained as though we need to go through a cave like appearance and on the other side we will see as if the mountain had cracked into two and in between this falls is likely to be present. On our way, across the stream, we saw a cement built wall before some place, as we entered we first saw the removed skin of a snake lying down in the floor.

Recently removed snake skin by the entrance of the cave....

Cave - I restrict the other photographs for some reason

This place has a big cave which looked like the broken mount for us with a temple and this cave is so different and it had another cave above this on the roof part as if there are caves in 1st floor and 2nd floor. This cave is also a temple with Shivalinga and just next to this cave is another cave that goes deep down and looks like running behind the prime cave temple and on the other side of the cave is the mountain wall – It looked like the cave next to the prime cave runs deep and takes a right turn to go behind the prime cave and should be running again to the right wall side of the prime cave and also this right wall side looks like it has a kind of room space there. We started moving out of this place and entered the stream again and started moving through the stream path – we were entering deeps and deeps of the forest and all alone. Some kind of hesitation was running in both of our minds and we were hesitant in walking further inside but still continued walking. At one place on the way, I saw a small plant which is so crowded with a number of butterflies – Can you believe hundreds of butterflies just sitting and flying around this small plant that has not even one flower on it! – This looked strange to me. I took a video coverage of this and by this time we heard a heavy noise of some wild animal somewhere in the middle of the mountains on the side and I checked with my friend on whether he also heard it, he said ‘yes’ and this didn’t scare us and we were discussing on whether to go further or to return and we decided to walk back and we came again before the cave and I stopped there and there was a nice clear water pond in the stream which is tempting me to enter into it. I was asking my friend whether to take a bath there and he was thinking about that by this time we heard this wild animals’ noise so close and loud – should be within 40-50 metres surrounding – I just started running asking my friend to follow me and we ran into the cave and stood there for sometime. When we are in the cave, a thought came to me ….we walked away from the cave and heard the noise at the back of us in the hills and now we came back near the cave and so I thought this animal is not coming after us but we came close to it. So I changed my mind to take shelter in the cave which is actually not safe for us. Even at this point of time, we were not scared enough to run away. I explained this to my friend and we thought it is better to go across the stream and go out of the deep forests first and see the bright skies where I thought animals will not be chasing. With this thought, we started walking slowly and started crossing the stream on the slippery rocks….suddenly there was again a huge roar and this really did scare us and we both stopped where we were and stood still – I thought it should be a leopard and it is about to attack us and I was trying to locate the source of the sound and above our heads, on the tree it is a group of monkeys moving away and this is looking at something on the other side scarily and was making this noise. As I saw this monkey and as he noticed me seeing him, he stopped making the noise and this group continued moving on the tree branches. I told my friend to immediately move away from the place and we started walking fast to the other side and we were almost flying on the path that takes us out of the dense forest and we both cannot explain even now how we crossed about 2.5 kms of dense forest within 15 mins and we saw the skies. We both felt a bit relaxed and sat down by the side walls of the mountains (exactly where we entered to take a dip in our first attempt) and started having some fruits we brought with us and started walking again slowly because we still have to walk through 3 kms to reach papanasam. After some 10 mins after walking slowly itself we felt tired and so sat again to have some more biscuits. By this time, I was guessing it should be a bear based on the sound we heard. My friend was asking whether we got this wild animals noise recorded in the video recording I made (listen to this by the beginning of the linked video) so I was replaying this to check and we heard the noise again – This time it is from where we have been having the fruits finally. Imagine how scary it could be – it confirmed that this wild animal is after us and so we immediately started moving fast from there and walked as fast as we could and we heard this again for two more times but I can understand that this is fading away. Finally we came near sanagana theertham and saw some four youngsters sitting there giving us some relief.

One among this group had been to Tumburu when it is officially opened to general public during a specific nakshatra two months back that time (It comes sometimes in April) This man enquired whether it is only two of us who tried to go to Tumburu and I was trying to check with him on how to go further in the stream to see Tumburu. He said, I should go till the end of the stream to reach the place and it was actually about 1 km from where we stopped and started returning. This man also mentioned that after you reach stream it is risky because there were bears! My guess was right and this really had scared me – I could imagine, how we were made to fled away from the place through hints and change of thoughts without we being made to fear or worry a lot about the danger we were in – OM NAMO NARAYANAYA! It’s his grace that saved us! I was thinking about this again and again and I understood what had happened – Bear smelt us (we sweated a lot after all the walk!) and he was trying to reach our place and we started walking back, he was so close but climbing down the rocky hills where the cave temple is and on his second close growling we ran to the cave – this should have made him come over the rocky hill to the other side and come back to the cave to catch us – in between we had a change in thought and started moving away from the cave and the bear is on the hills climbing down – monkeys saw this, alerted us and went on its way! We got the fear element tickled in us – fled (actually fled) away few kms in 15 mins. He growled again for the third time and we realized that he is after us and we ran for our exit.

After this we have made firm decisions to explore Tumburu all alone and only when this is officially opened by TTD to general public during that nakshatra.

Butterflies and butterflies and the growling of bear


Friday, May 28, 2010


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KUTRALAM and more....

Oh wow…. the name itself will make the ones who have been there to plan a trip once atleast. This name “KUTRALAM” is quite famous in South India and located in Tamil Nadu.

This tourist destination is the house of many waterfalls in Tamil Nadu in the western ghats and at the border of Kerala. All these waterfalls starts pouring once the monsoon sets itself in Kerala.


Kutralam, ‘Pazhaya Kutralam’ means ‘OLD KUTRALAM’, Five Falls, Sitraruvi and Puliyaruvi are the list of famous waterfalls in this place and quite close to each other in kilo metres.


Near the Kutralam waterfalls you can see the famous Kutrala Nadhar Temple. As an interesting information…..Lord Siva is said to be in a blissful dance – ANANDHA THAANDAVAM, the performance of which is producing the cosmic energy to all living species on the Earth. This is the reason that every particle of earth is said to be set in vibration within. Dancing Lord Siva is called as NATRAJA. In all, there are 5 Sabhai’s – STAGES for his performance as per the Hindu Mythology.


I am listing it below to give some finer details…

CITY - Order of the Sabhai - Name of the Sabhai

KUTRALAM - 5 - Chithra Sabhai (Art)
MADURAI - 3 - Velli Sabhai (Silver)
THIRUVALANGADU - 1 - Rathina Sabhai (one of the gem stone)
CHIDAMBARAM - 2 - Por Sabhai (gold)
THIRUNELVELI - 4 - Thamira Sabhai (Bronze)

Above the Kutralam falls, in the hills are a number of falls which has to be approached through many risky routes and access to which was closed now since some government project work is going on here. Above kutralam, walking for about 1 hour, one can reach Shenbagadhevi waterfalls – this is actually the waterfall that runs further to form Kutralam downhills, joining with few more streams.

Above Shenbagadhevi, if you walk into the forests, then we can reach the riskiest waterfall – Thenaruvi – which means “honey falls”. Honey falls is a majestic waterfall falling from top of the hills into the well bounded mountain walls – exactly looking like majestic walls formed by the mountains and forming a very big lake. This is named ‘Honey’ Falls because you can see honey combs built all around these mountains and honey will be tripping into the Lake formed by the waterfalls. One can only enjoy the view of the waterfall and cannot even think of taking a dip in the lake formed before the waterfall as it is not approachable for anybody. Still you can go across the river taking the risk of walking through huge rocks lying on the heavy current stream. Going further above the Thenaruvi is very risky as you still have to go into the deeps of the forest through risky routes completely. Many of the people who had set themselves on this trip to find the source for the Thenaruvi gets killed absorbed somewhere in the water stream or falling down from the hill tops/ huge rocks, etc.

What’s more and near to this destination – KUTRALAM?

A lot and lot…traveling into Kerala which will take about 1 and ½ hours of travel, we can reach another majestic waterfall called as PALARUVI – means ‘MILK FALLS’. As the name depicts, this waterfall will absolutely look like milk flowing from the top of the hill and is too lengthy comparing with any other waterfall I have seen. This waterfall is maintained by the Kerala Government.



Straight opposite to the direction of the Paalaruvi and into Tamil Nadu side for about an hour, we can reach AGASTHIYAR FALLS. This is the waterfall formed in River ‘TAMARABARANI’. In Tamil ‘TAMARA’ means Lotus, BARANI is a song form of Tamil Literature which are poems written in praise. This waterfall is named after the famous sage AGASTHIYR, one of the top most 18 Siddhas as he was observing penance and living in these hills. Adjacent to the Agasthiyar waterfalls one can enjoy the excellent view of the broad Tamarabarani river flowing through the town. Before we move towards the Agasthiyar Falls comes the Famous Lord Siva Temple – PAPANASAM – meaning ‘destroyer of all sins’.



We can go above in the hills to reach a place called as KARAIYARU. This is where we have the PAPANASAM DAM. This is an excellent place in the forest and you will see forest department signages everywhere alerting us about the type of animals in the forest. In the lake formed by the Dam, boating is operated by the Government of Tamil Nadu – which is actually with no safety mechanisms. These boats will take people to another part of the Lake – as you approach near this destination, you will be seeing a majestic waterfall in the hills little above the Lakeshore. Boats will stop here and the tourists can walk for about 1.5 km to reach this waterfall. There are proper paths available to reach this waterfall. This waterfall is called as PAANA THEERTHAM. Paana Theertham is such a majestic waterfall with damn cool water flowing which I can compare to ten times cold as of the Kutralam water. One more important thing to be noticed is just a small leaf of this waterfall is what is available to be enjoyed by the tourists – which is itself quite broad enough to accommodate more number of tourists. This and the rest of the waterfall makes a pond before it which has swirls on it and it is completely restricted for anybody to step into this lake. This pond is so deep and has swirl and water fills this to flow further down. Many accidental deaths have happened in this pond. Just a step or two in the pond for photographs and slippery rocks makes one fall down and drowns in the deeps of ponds and swirl.




After the bath in PAANA THEERTHAM, we can come down to catch our boat and way back to the other part of the Lakeshore. Many of the boat riders had reported saying that Crocodiles are seen in the lakeshore in the early mornings.

Saturday, May 22, 2010


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Tiruvannamalai is the place very famous for one of the sacred Lord Siva temple in South India. This is one of the PANJA BOOTHA KSHETHRAM. ‘Panjabootha’ refers to 5 elements of nature and this temple is the AGNI KSHETHRA – dedicated to the element - FIRE!

Tiruvannamalai is such a big temple with navagopurams – 9 entrances and is the place where many of the miracles had happened in history. This is where Lord Muruga had saved the life of his great devotee ARUNAGIRINADHAR and had made him sing poems on him. Challenging, tongue twisting verses enriched THIRUPUGAZH is his famous poem on LORD MURUGA.

GIRIVALAM: Tiruvannamalai is also well known for the GIRI VALAM – ‘coming around the holy hill’ during the Full moon day of every month. It is believed that coming around the hill on the full moon day is very curative and will fill anyone with complete spiritual vibes. On the way around the hills, one can also visit the nine lingam temples which is actually the ritual for anyone set on the GIRIVALAM.

In Girivalam, it is explained that the entire Tiruvannamalai hill is itself showing like the lying down pose of Lord Shiva. Also from one point, you can see the rock formation in the hills like NANDI DEVAR statue. You may know that in any Shiva temple, Nandi devar statue will be right in front of the Shivalinga – Lord Shiva.




ASHRAMS IN TIRUVANNAMALAI: Tiruvannamalai is also well known for many of the enlightened masters who had settled down here and have had their ashrams built down the hills. One such famous ashram is Sri Ramanashramam of the Enlightened mystic Sri Sri Ramana.

In Ramanashramam we can see Sri Ramana’s Samadhi – place where Sri Ramanar’s body is buried. Actually even using the word ‘buried’ is wrong for an Enlightened mystic like Ramana as it is not the usual death or burial process followed for any other simple human beings.

NOTE ON SRI RAMANA: To give an interesting life history of Ramana….Ramana, when young was so much curious in knowing what is death as he realized death as a certainty on any human and on one day he had this death experience which was explained in his biography by when he slipped deep into the experience of Samadhi – which can be explained as a state of mind where there is no mind and one slipping in attuned/ dissolved into his own centre in his own being. After this, he longed to see Tiruvannamalai and came to Tiruvannamalai and settled down here and continued with his meditations.

There is also one portion inside the temple called as ‘BADHALA VINAYAGAR’ temple – this means a ‘Vinayaga temple in underground’. Here it is said that he was deeply into the Samadhi experience for so many days and had no conscious of his body even. So many day long experiences of Samadhi and no movement of his body in a renunciated kind of portion brought his body many insect bites, etc and when he is found in this temple by someone, it was said that his wounds had lots of insects happily feasting on his body and reproducing and reproducing. He wanted to help Sri Ramana and so he gave him medications for all his physical wounds/ insect bites. More details on his history can be observed from his books through his ashram.

Sri Ramana has also meditated in a hut like place in the hills which is called as ‘KANDASHRAMAM’ – which means ‘Lord Murugan’s ashramam’ – This is where he is said to have given ‘MOKSHA’ the spiritual freedom to his mother. Walking down from KANDASHRAMAM, we will come to VIRUPAKSHA CAVE, where also Sri Ramana had meditated for a long time. Both these places are open to general public now and are used as meditation halls. When you approach these places through Ramanashram it will take about 45 mins to 1 hour to reach. Both these places are maintained by Ramanashramam.


After visiting Virupaksha Cave, if you still climb down the hills on the same route, we can come to SRI KUGAI NAMASIVAYAR SAMADHI – which is again a cave and this is where SRI KUGAI NAMASIVAYAR who is an enlightened master and who had lived long many years before had undergone his Samadhi. This is also open to general public. His history written on the walls of his temple says that he was from Karnataka and he traveled down to Tiruvannamalai and as he came into Tiruvannamalai, he visited the temple and enquired Lord Annamalaiyar – main deity of the temple about his wellness = “ARE YOU FINE?” This story depicts that Kugai Namasivayar was such a great mystical being who was able to approach Lord Siva as a friend.

His history also says that he is gifted with a sacred theertham by UMAYAL – GODDESS PARVATHI which is a ‘THEERTHAM’ - a pond of water. This is gifted to him for him to perform his regular prayers. This Theertham is called as ‘MULAIPAAL THEERTHAM’. This is quite adjacent to Kugai Namasivayar’s cave.

A little away to the leftside of the Mulaipaal Theertham, we can visit the PALAMARA KUGAI – which is again a cave. Inside the cave there is a small entrance leading to another part of the cave – one can crawl in darkness and enter it and sit down for meditation or to listen to the cosmic vibration sound …..OMMMMMMMM… without any effort. If we still walk to the left of it, we can visit another ashram that’s again called ‘KANDASHRAM’. From here, you can have a nice view of the Tiruvannamalai temple.

Still walking down, you will see one more temple by name – ANNAPOORANI ALAYAM, which means TEMPLE OF GODDESS OF FOOD. This is again a cave and one can enter and sit in meditation here too. I will say this cave will fill anyone with bliss and happiness.

Coming out of this temple and if you walk down, you will see one more protected room like place and outside this place – it says ‘THE PLACE WHERE IDAIKADAR SIDDAR HAD MEDITATED’ – IDAIKADAR is one of the great siddar as per Tamil History and one among the first 18 TOP MOST LEGENDARY SIDDARS.

If you still climb down, you will walk through the residential places built on the foothills of Tiruvannamalai and will reach one of the maada veedhis. If you climb back the same route, you can reach Virupaksha cave in about 20 minutes.

A small note to strike/ think about: Friend of mine has been on Girivalam once and saw one of his friend who is a foreign national and known to my friend and who was not in touch with my friend for some years. In anxiety of seeing this foreign friend after a long time, that too in Tiruvannamalai, where he is also on Girivalam, asked him “Your place?” in the sense whether now he is staying in Tiruvannamalai. Answer that he got from him is .......NO, NO….ALL SIVA’S PLACE!