After planning for so many days, I and my friend ram fixed a date for the trip. We booked “Pothigai Express” for both ways from Chennai to Srivilliputhur and back. Boarded the train at 8.55 PM @ Chennai and reached Srivilliputhur by 7.30AM. Booked a hotel (Raja Hotel, near to bus stand – Rs.550 non ac for double occupancy) and refreshed ourselves. Took Breakfast at “Karpagam Hotel”, which just opposite to bus stand. Then took a bus straight to “Thaaniparai” – 35kms (goes via Vaathiraiiruppu) and reached in 50 minutes. Even if straight bus is not available, we can go to Vaathiraiiruppu and from there autos will be available to reach Thaaniparai.
Thaaniparai, which is the entrance of Chaturagiri Hills, devotees are offered with “Annadhanam”. Few shops are available, where devotees can buy essential like torch, biscuits, water bottles, etc. Before crossing the Gate a ticket counter is there, where Rs.2 ticket has to be obtained. One has to avoid pollute the area and hence it is suggested to bring back the plastics with us and put them in the dustbin used for that.
Your Journey starts then. Initially we will start with mud road, both sides covered by trees and greeny bushes. The journey starts with temples for Lord Ganehsa, Karuppannaswamy, etc . We have to climb a small rock and then the path is full of small, small rocks and stones. Then you can see Kuthiraiootru water crossing. One has to climb rocks most part of the journey.
On the way, there are several places where one can see water flowing. Most of the places, water/small falls are used by the devotees for bathing, washing, etc. Most people walk with bare foot (mostly local and nearby people) and other with shoes/chappels. With chappels, it is bit uncomfortable. Even when one walks with barefoot, a person can wet his legs with the chill water that flows throughout the journey. Think during heavy rains, it could be tougher to walk/cross places.
On the way, there is Gorakkar Gugai/cave (slight deviation from the route, small distance), where a lady offers Thiruneeru from the cave. Water flows down there and a painting of Linga is done on the mountain. Also there is a Theepam at half the way of that mountain (where linga paint is there), which is lit. (Till here could have covered 40 percent of the journey)
We continued the journey by praying Irattai/two lingam on the way. Throughout the way, both sides are greenish. Some places are narrow. Sometimes we climbed rocks. Sometimes, we crawled, some times ran, etc. Some places we crossed the water. Some places, it is completely covered by trees and hence there will be slight dark. Almost half of the hills one can see lightness and darkness all over the places.
Most places, we can see monkeys. They will take food from you. If they see you with food, they will grab it from you.
Devotees come every Amavaasai/No moon day and Pournami/Full moon day to the temples. Most people visit Amavaasai/no moon day, where crowd will be there. During Aadi Amavasai huge crowds throng here. Throughout the way at regular intervals, shops are available for these two days alone. Other days shops will be available only at the start and end point of the hills.
One of the facility offered here is free food/annadhanam from morning till night/evening. Even shelter is available, for those who wish to stay at the top. Even at the starting point food is offered free. People call and offer food, which is very good activity/rare one. One more thin, people give information about the hill in a polite manner.
Once you reach top, you see shops offering flowers and all other required things for pooja.
At the top, on the right we can go to Sundara Mahalingam temple and on the left Santhana mahalingam temple. Both statues will be leaning on the right. We have visited during the second day of Full moon day and hence very few people are there and hence there is no rush at all in the temple. We had a very calm dharshan. Near to Santhana mahalingam temple, there is a way to ‘Sapdur’, which is closed by the Forrest Dept. due to wild animals.
Information about 18 siddhars is available at the top, where one can learn about them.
To visit, the Big Mahalingam, which some 4kms away from Santhana mahalingam temple, one needs assistance from a guide, without whom people could be lost. We thought to visit the same for next time. We completed the upward journey (7.5 kms) around three hours, with very few stops, here and there. We had hot meals at Agasthiyar madam and took rest for half an hour. We also donated a small amount to the madam.
We had some one hour rest, at the footsteps of the Santhana Mahalingam temple. We started our downward journey at 3.40 pm. While coming down, we took photos at few places, slowed down to take chukku coffee, took raagi vada, sundal in between the journey. All the aforesaid are nice to have. We completed the downward journey less than 3 hours (reached around 6.30 pm). Took back bus to Srivilliputhur. We completed the journey comfortably, which is itself a good feeling.
Through the journey, the experience, climate and everything is enjoyable and likable. The journey makes you feel to visit one more time, if your are fit person. Although, those with fat persons/big bellies too hiked, they were tired soon and begin to take rest.
Just ignore when others say that the trip would be tough/hard. If you are fit, just go at one stretch; without stops, without sitting and most importantly, do not take eatables except water/little fruits. May be while downwards, we can have. If you are not fit, you can take rest and then continue. As a family trip, it will be a nice experience. People also use Bamboo sticks, to balance during the journey. Others, if they wish to visit, they need to be carried by people (which are not a pleasurable trip at all). Journey completed in day itself (i.e., during the day time itself) otherwise one can stay at top).
Please visit this place and you will hopefully get a good feeling, but try not to pollute with plastics.