Thiruvannamalai is the home to the fire element, one of Lord Shiva's five earthly elements or the Pancha Bhootas. It is also home to the magnificent Arunachala Hill. This temple town, located about 190 kilometres from Chennai is truly a unique weekend getaway. On the full moon day during Karthigai Dheepam festival, a large beacon is lit on the top of the 800-meter tall mountain. This spectacle is usually witnessed by 3 million devotees, as the town and the temple gets draped in lights and fireworks.
But we're here for the trekking. If you love adventure, climbing Arunachala Hill (although demanding) will give you some serious rush! You will encounter different species of trees and tons of insects and birds. Be sure to carry enough fluids and supplements to support you on this climb. The summit offers incredible views of the surrounding areas and a bird's eye view of the temple town! If you prefer to trek with the locals, head there during the Karthigai Dheepam season, which usually falls between November and December.
You can also walk around the large hill in a practice called girivalam. Join the devotees as you walk 16 kilometres covering ancient temples along the way. A road around the hills takes you into the countryside, away from the busy temple town, through dense woods and ancient wells. Different angles of Arunachala hill also offer quite the sight during your climb. You can even visit the peaceful Ramana Ashramam. Feeding peacocks and meditating add to the whole serenity element of this experience.