A claudron, me and an angry guru – Tiruvannamalai adventure is strong with this one!
Tiruvannamalai.. A small city in Tamil Nadu state of India, full of spirituality, piligrims and interesting travelers who decide on visiting that jewel. I have had many adventures during my travels, some funny and strange, but the Tiruvannamalai adventure is indeed, hmm, weird?
“And then the guru hit a table near me with his walking stick, slightly missing me..”
Hah, a little spoiler for today’s post..
Annamalai hill, Tiruvannamalai temples and many ashrams are the main attractions of the city. A festival called “Karthigai deepam” is celebrated during the full moon of November-December, a huge beacon is lit and piligrims circumnavigate around the hill in a worship called “Girivalam”, guess who joined them?;)
Let’s get on the road to.. the guru?
I arrived to Tiruvannamalai after spending a few days in Ooty, a hill station in the same state. I found a guesthouse near the central bus station and fell asleep early that night.
In the morning of the next day i decided on trekking up the Arunachala hill and seeing the local temples. First i went to the temples, the walk was pretty interesting, because there were many piligrims from all over India that came for the full moon walk.
When i saw the temples, i was pretty amazed by their structure and beauty. Like in any big temple area around India, the temples had swarms of beggars and crippled people hanging around them, asking for rupees (they can get pretty annoying and even agressive). I took a walk around and saw some of the rituals, India never gets old;).
I left the temples and started moving towards the hill, one of the locals told me that it takes about two hours to get to the top, i bought 3 liters of water and i was ready for the short trek. The bad part was the time of day, the sun was burning and it was really damn hot, the good part, less people climbing! I started going up and after about one hour and a half i was close to the top, i found a small meditation place, there was a picture of some piligrim guy and a lit fire, creepy.
After a minute or two of exploring that place i left and started making my last steps towards the top of the hill. When i was on top, i saw a guy doing some kind of martial arts performance, he looked at me and stopped, came closer and greeted me by saying: “Welcome to the top of Arunachala hill”. This dude was a Kung Fu teacher from Banglore, he also came for that full moon circumnavigation thing (Girivalam). We had a nice chat, he tought me some Kung Fu and took some pics of me on top of the hill. There is a great view of the temple complex from the top. Oh yeah, the legend says that Shiva once appeared here as a beacon of light, i bet he had some charas with him, well, i did;) (the shiva-charas jokes again?! -.-), Om Nama Shiva..
So after a while i went down the mountain and came back to the guesthouse, during my time in Tiruvannamalai i was eating South India food in a local dhaba (a kind of local cheap food place, roadside restaurant).
Tell us about that guru!
Day number two was a cycling day for me, i rented a lame bicycle for a dollar and started pedaling around the mountain, it was about 14km ride. I saw some nice scenery and many many piligrims. After a while a nice temple caught my eye, i decide to check it, and then..
I came closer, got in and there a saw three piligrims cooking some weird white mix of stuff in a huge claudron, “what the heck was that?” i thought. Anyway i was calm and just nodded at them saying “Hi” and smiling, they nodded back. Suddenly out of nowhere another guy ran in and started speaking to me. He had pretty bad, but understandable English. The first thing he said was hi, followed by, “do you want to see the guru?”, “the guru is here“, “you must see the guru“, “he is in the school, sleeping on the third floor“, “come come“. He bombarded me with that stuff and after the “come come” he started going, i was like: What the hell, let’s see the guru!
So before getting in the school he told me to take off my shoes, a though passed through my mind that they want my trekking boots, but hell, I could not miss the guru, could I? We got up to the third floor, the kids did not understand who the hell was that alien walking there, and i am not speaking about the pilligrim guy.Third floor, an entrance to a class, we started walking on our toes, the guru was sleeping. He whispered: “let’s get closer, i want you to see him well”. We got closer, well what can i say, it was a piligrim with a different set of cloth and he was snoring hard. Suddenly the guy tells me like: “pray, pray to the guru“, he crossed his hands and started praying. He pushed me and told me; “pray, pray to the guru” again, i crossed my hands and started copying his movements. My prayer was like: “What the fuck is going on, oh Shiva, i need some strong spliff after that“. Suddenly the the victim of our prayers woke up, started moving and then the guru hit a table near me with his walking stick, slightly missing me. The piligrim guy told me to get the hell out of there, and we just ran out of the class, down the stairs, back to the claudron gang. WTF?
I was a little shocked, but the piligrim guy was full power, he told me that he was driver of the guru and that they were actually making some “medicine coffee” in that claudron. He told one of the piligrims to fill an aluminium glass for me, that stuff looked creepy, but i was like, let’s go for it. It was coffee, yep, but that was just coffee! No poison or psychodelic drugs, as you probably thought. It was coffee, with many many spices. After i finished the glass i thanked the gang for that coffee and an unforgettable experience, said bye and went back to cycling.
Later on that day i went for that full moon walk around the mountain, it was swarming with people and i was just walking silently and observing, a strong experience too! I left that epic city the next day and headed to Pondicherry on a local bus, the end of my Tiruvannamalai adventure.