Parvadhamalai, May 31 - June 1, 2008

Wednesday, July 9, 2008
Parvathamalai(Parvadhamalai) is a hill located near Thenmathimangalam village, 20 kms from Polur in Tiruvannamalai district. It is also a part of Javvadhi hills, and accessible through Kadaladi village 25Kms north of Tiruvannamalai .While Tiruvannamalai is well known as a popular pilgrimage destination, hardly a few had heard about Parvathamalai! But once we did, and the possibility of an exciting uphill trek confirmed, no time was wasted and it became the target of 24 ChennaiTrekkers on 31st May 2008.

Since the village at the foothills of Parvathamalai was accessible by road, it was decided the group would meet at a starting point - Tidel park, Taramani - and pool into 5 cars until we reached the base. The hill is accessible from Thenmathimangalam as well as Kadaladi, the latter being supposedly a shorter distance! We chose to climb from Kadaladi as that was ideal for the trek but it also turned out to be difficult (yet fun) towards the end!

All 20 trekkers from Chennai joined the team to get themselves started all the way to Parvathamalai with only one thought and one dream of conquering the hill of Lord Shiva. Yea, Parvathamalai is famous for a Shiva temple (known here Lord Mallikarjunaswamy) on the top of the hill and it is believed to be one of the most powerful Shiva temples in Tamil Nadu. A huge number of devotees climbs this hill to get themselves blessed by the supreme deity on the full moon day.

It took a long 5hr drive to reach Tiruvannamalai at 1:45 noon where we joined 4 guys from Bangaluru. Right after having a quick (but proper!) south indian meal and buying water bottle cartons we headed to Kadaladi, the foothills of Parvadhamalai. There's a Pachiamman temple where we had to park our cars and start our trek. After loading water bottles (4 litres each), dinner items, and bread for next day's breakfast into our backpacks, and tying up the sleeping mats/bags to it, we started our mission around 3:50PM.

The picturesque village added to the charm and took us to a totally different world, away from the humdrum of civilized city life. From down below, we spotted the peak of the hill where the temple and ashram building could be seen. Even though many of us had seen some pictures of the hill online, the sight of the peak in front of our eyes, roughly 3000 ft above sea level, was enough for some trekkers to ask themselves "Am I going to climb this hill? Really?" But with an enthusiastic trekking group such as this, any such doubts were put to rest, and the excitement to go for the climb was on throughout.

The initial pathway was flanked by paddy fields and a few cattle grazing in the lazy sun. Even being summer it was not totally dry and we had trees to protect us from the hot sun. But with the first part of the climb through dense trees and forest area, there was also no room for any cool breeze and it was pretty still. Half an hour into the climb, it kept getting steeper with every few steps ahead and everyone started to get a little tired from the sweat. The group of 24 got split up into 3 groups, each doing the climb at their own pace. The first time trekkers were apprehensive and pretty confident that they were not going to make it to the Ashram at the peak (That was one real uphill task!).

Some of them almost quit from the mission and wanted to drive the way back home but the Chennai Trekkers have no scarce for motivation. A few experienced trekkers were behind those who found the going tough, and kept pushing them ahead with jokes, motivational talk and some rest in-between. There was also photography in the air, that gave people good diversion to capture some of beauty along the climb...and people were only too obliging to pose along with nature! :) Whoa! So thus with rejuvenated spirits, the team pulled on ahead, and there was no turning back rather just the occasional stops for tender coconut and lime goli soda (one of the most refreshing drinks popularized down south).

Thankfully many of the rocks were painted with arrow marks pointing towards the Ashram, so there was no question of us losing the way. After walking for a short distance we kept taking halt to make sure new trekkers get enough rest. Like always the photographers got busy when the team reached some clearings. The view from the solitary rock was simply breath-taking and some guys even posed for some snaps on top of it. The cool and gentle mountain breeze was caressing our faces to refresh ourselves and to make us feel sorry about the friends who are at Chennai this weekend.

By the time we reached the Gadapparai even the last ray from the sun had already left the hill to leave us in dark. Even being dark and dangerous climb I won't dare to tell it was the best part of the trek! Soon we climbed up hardest part of the hill and had a short rest to get ourselves energized. All except Vivek, Ramki and Partha had already left to the remaining climb up to the Ashram and I waited to join those guys near the shop with tender coconuts and soda. It took another 30 minutes for them to reach that point to see the most funny part of the trek coming up.

It started to drizzle heavily and the wind was so strong to bring the fog all the way so that the torch light don't go above a few meters. It was really icy water falling down and we had to search for the arrows on each rock. We again walked for 30 minutes to see Peter coming down from the hill to guide us through the remaining climb. It then took some 10 minutes to reach the Ashram at top of the hill.

By the time the late gang came others had arranged the sleeping mat all over the floor to have a good sleep. Most of us had Pongal to head for a tired dead sleep! All night was too noisy because there were many devotees at the Ashram. Also we could hear the sound of some pooja going on there and some people was always making sure there is walking way in the Ashram for the people to leave to the temple. Some of us were talking to other people over there to hear some stories about the temple and a monk.

Next day morning we got up at 7 and headed to the Shiva temple nearby to see the beautiful view of the valley. There was gentle breeze early morning to make the place feel heavenly. Suddenly we all realized the necessity of climbing the hill down to start the way back. Everyone started with lots of enthusiasm and we could hardly hear someone asking for rest. It was really cool all the way down though the sun was out.

The rocky stretch produced some challenges due to the overnight rain, but none the less, we all made it to the bottom. Everyone could find a helping hand whenever necessary to make themselves safe. We could see some old people cultivating at the rice fields at the valley. No one could resist jumping to the water which was used for watering the rice fields.

By 10:30 we all made it to the parking area to have a late breakfast. There was a house at that place and the lady there served us boiling hot water to make the cup-noodles and tomato soup. After having food all except 5 mad trekkers headed to Chennai and those 5 went to climb up Gingee fort. All together Parvathamalai is a superb place which is not very hot even at this summer. But all the way to top we could see plastics and other non degradable waste spoiling the beauty a little. Let us all hope for a time to see all the human caring the nature, loving the nature, and preserving the nature.

Participants: Peter, Divya, Vivek, Ram Prasad, Balaji, Amal, Abhinav, Partha, Jagadishkumar, Karthik, Meenal, Diwakar, Ramakrishnan, Sreekumar R, Simon, Sundar, Srinivasan, Haripriya, Huzefa, M. Ram, Santhosh, Horst, Shilpa, Sameer.

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Amal Gingee

Trail in Google Earth



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