A Ramanashram ride - part II

Continuing from where I left off last month... On Saturday, after darshan and breakfast, I started off for Arunachala pradakshina on my bike! Its less than a km till the highway meets the tar road that goes around the holy hill; even the road's name tells it so.

Arunachala remains hidden between structures some times and at other, the trees shadow its presence. While you're trying not to speed away, there's a good chance that you may miss a few good glimpses although the hill's aura is inviting enough.

One of the bad things of being on a vehicle is that one can't continuously view the hill; walking paints a better picture. However, I took pit stops to click some photos and even tried some stupid on-the-ride video-capture! The image on the left is how the hill shone on my first few clicks.


As I rode a little further, I saw a make-do bench beside a tree meant to give some rest and shade to the devotees who walk around on the tar, quite a lot among them barefoot. Its a good burning-the-feet exercise during day time and in the evening too, as the tar takes its time to cool off. I was also barefoot, but thankfully on the bike! Last time, I did walk around the hill
but it wasn't with naked feet.

On this bench were three monkeys playing around and hunting for some food thrown (with plastic bags by some idiots) in passing. I was watching these creatures pass their time and mine nicely. It makes ya wonder why humans are at each other's throats while even animals understand each other, especially their own species, better!

I continued my ride switching off the camera after a while, thinking of taking another stop to click photos later. Its a belief that walking around Arunachala brings in many a virtues including pull towards moksha. Ramana Maharshi used to walk around the hill at an extremely slow pace, at times, taking over three days to complete one parikrama.

It was pretty hot and the muffler I'd worn to cover my head was making me perspire. The starting point of the circumambulation is the ashram at Arunachala's southern face, also qualifying Bhagavan as dakshiNaamurti. As long as the roundabout road is the only road in the vicinity, you feel being in a village with its associated tag-along calmness, soothing the effects of heat from the sun. But no sooner than you meet another road, you can feel the town's noise eating into the bliss emanating from your meditative parikrama.

As I passed through various faces of the hill, it
seemed to change the shade and emit different colors on to the sky. Of course, the sun was helping play this game too. I pulled over again to get a longer view of what you see on the left. I tried various camera angles and owing to no zoom on pocket digicam of mine, I got only approximate expressions of Arunachala. Now thinking, its only the convenience of this Vivitar that let me capture what you see here. The beauty of the blue sky and the white clouds flying over the hill.

There was some breeze around that eased the "pain from the heatwave". That last phrase doesn't sound authentic from a Mumbaite but I left Bombay over five years ago and Bangalore serves a better temperature through the year.

At this break, I gathered that it wasn't far before I reached back the ashram and upset myself with the thought about the traffic that I'd be heading into. I sure wanted to make it before lunch hour, having missed the same on Friday, with enough margin for a wash.

In good time, I found myself struggling through thin crowded roads around the bus stand and Arunachaleshwara temple, with one-way signs pointing in confusing directions. I sped onto the highway just to meet more barricades and traffic pushing me to first gear. The view of Arunachala had also changed itself back under its veil of just-another hill at these noisy traffic junctures!

After some difficult feats, I made it back to the ashram. Having parked my bike and had a wash, I looked up the watch to tick around an hour of biking around, adding some breaks. The last 10-15 minutes of not-so-pleasant riding had added to my appetite, to be followed by a hearty meal and the usual blissful nap.
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