Sacred Site Seeing

Transformational Adventures

Journey to Tiru­vannamal­lai

February 2011

Arunachaleshwara ComplexArunachaleshwara Complex
(click for larger picture)

Tiruvan­namalai, located in the South Indian state of Tamil Nadu, was the destination for our group of six pilgrims in February, 2011. Tiruvannamallai is the home of three active and highly visited pilgrimage sites: Arunachaleshwara Temple, the sacred mountain Arunachala, and Sri RamanaMaharshi’s Ashram.

“Arunchala is no doubt one of the most sacred places in India. Ramana Mahrshi talks about the ‘Hill Supreme’ as ‘Consciousness manifest’, as ‘Sivalinga’. Tradition speaks of the Mountain as the “Fire- linga”. Circumbulating this sacred Mountain, sitting by its sacred tirthas (springs), meditating in the Cave of the Mountain-ashram or the hall, where Ramana Maharshi gave his darshan, are sure to turn the awareness to the Fire-within! ” — (Swami Nityamuktananda)

Arunachaleswara is one of the Panchbhootamshivasthalas, one of the five Shiva temples dedicated to the five elements of air, water, fire, earth and ether. At Tiruvanamallai, Shiva is worshipped as fire. We had an opportunity to tour the large temple complex, taking in the many sights and sounds of the exuberant worship taking place there.

Watching over the town of Tiruvannamalai is “the hill” known as Arunachala. Arunachala is considered by some to be one of the oldest rock formations of the Subcontinent.

Blessing Bestowing Elephant at Arunachalashwara Temple ComplexBlessing Bestowing Elephant
(Click for larger image)
Arunachala is said to be an embodiment of Shiva as fire and light. In the mythology, Shiva is said to have manifested himself in the form of a massive column of fire, whose crown and feet Brahma (the deity ruling creation) and Vishnu (the deity ruling preservation) attempted in vain to reach. Lord Shiva, in this way, claimed victory as the one with highest knowledge.

The trip was made all the more meaningful with the presence and guidance of Swami Nityamuktakanda. She shared her knowledge and insights gleaned from many years of study and application of knowledge of the five elements.

Participants met at Chennai on 15th February. The following day after breakfast the group departed on the four hour journey by bus to Tiruvannamalai and Sri Ramana Maharshi’s Ashram, an ashram with a rich history which continues to be a regular part of the spiritual lives of the people of South India.

After his “awakening”, the 20th century enlightened sage, Sri Ramana Maharshi was drawn as if by some invisible force to the sacred mountain known as Arunachala. Here he lived for 50 years, all the while staying fully identified with the highest Self. An Ashram arose around him where countless pilgrims came to receive his unconditional love, guidance and teaching of Self-inquiry. (See:

Dawn circumambulation around Arunachala HillDawn circumambulation around Arunachala Hill
(Click for larger image)
Three nights were spent at the ashram where members of the group enjoyed participating in ashram activities and walks on the sacred mountain. It was a memorable experience for all to meditate and feel the silence permeating the places where Sri Ramana gave his darshan.

The trip was relatively short, but long enough to get a taste and blessings of these extraordinary places and the one sage united with them.

What some of the participants had to say

“lamiainpressione di un viaggioallefalde di una montagna sacra dovegrandisaggihannomeditato ,dove si rafforzail proprio sentierospirituale in amorevolecompagnia di swaminityamuktanada e compagni di viaggio.”

"My impression of a trip at the feet of a sacred mountain where great sages have meditated is that here one's own spiritual path gets strengthened in the lovely company of Swami Nityamuktananda and travel companions". (Laura, Italy)


“I loved Tiruvannamalai both the temple to Shiva and Ramana Maharishi's ashram. I was not distracted by the crowds which usually put me off. There is a beautiful aura of divinity over the whole town which one could experience everywhere. I only wish I could have spent more time at the temple and walked around studying the four massive entrance towers which were so beautifully decorated which is unusual for a Shiva temple.” (Padma, Mumbai)


“I enjoyed the visit and am glad for the way things were scheduled. For me coming from busy Singapore, there was a good amount of time spent for visiting the temple, ashram as well as some personal time, a refreshing yet different immersion of culture, environment and spirit. Thank you for organizing this trip with Swami Nityamuktananda. It was a great blend for a trip for learning, enrichment as well as an eye opener.” (Timothy, Singapore)

Swami Nitya at Arunachaleshwara TempleSwami Nitya at Arunachaleshwara Temple
(Click for larger image)
“Although the trip was short, all of us gained some insights into that ‘Fire within’, the fire of ‘divine love’, and the fire of ‘sacred light of knowing’. We felt blessed by Shiva, who is Arunchala Himself.” (Swami Nityamuktananda)


After three hours of Chennai rush hour traffic and two more in the hot Tamil Nadu countryside, I was starting to question my intention to visit Ramana Maharishi's ashram. I was thinking that nothing there could compensate for the draining experience of traveling there. I was about to find out how wrong I was.

Entering the gate of Ramanashramam, a freshness came over my mind and the troubles and travails of the journey began to melt away. Even waiting outside the registration office for our accommodations to be squared away, the deep waves of peace that permeate the bricks and earth there took my mind to a quiet place. I felt little inclination to do anything other than meander around the paths or sit to be present to things as they were.

Over the next few days these waves came and went, but the appreciation remained for what a profound soul Ramana must have been to create such a lasting presence. In his physical absence the mood of the ashram has been maintained through the years and it's easy to see the devotion in the ashram workers. Ramana is still present and guiding the work of the ashram through their hearts and hands. (Eric Ness)

Pilgrimage to Dev Bhumi

The Land of the Gods November 6 to 9, 2012

Pilgrimage is a journey that a pilgrim undertakes to a shrine or sacred place. Our itinerary certainly included places of such repute, but our minds could not grasp the realities that lay ahead as we set out on this momentous journey into the Himalayan mountain ranges where the sages so lovingly adored as the home of the gods. Our group was quite diverse from various cultural and geographic backgrounds. We did not know what to expect. Perhaps this added to the anticipation that was evident in the eyes and voices of the group as we gathered in the bus that was about to take us to a land that is heavenly in grandiose, but with treacherous mountain roadways that hang dangerously on the side of steep mountain cliffs. We trusted in our guides’ choice of bus driver who has to navigate these roads and share it with the many hurried and ever “honking” flow of traffic that seemed to enjoy the thrill of racing in conditions that beg for slow and safe driving.

The first bus stop set the tone for the rest of the trip. The food and hospitality was above our expectations. We enjoyed the hospitality and courtesy of a people that gave of themselves freely. It was such a delight to partake in the wonderful meals that were always served with grace and love. Our group responded in kind and everyone showed appreciation and gratitude for the kind hospitality of our hosts. It was certainly due to the great efforts and planning of our guides.

Read more: Pilgrimage to Dev Bhumi

Sikkim Adventure

“Pilgrimage to the Himalayas, Journey to Sikkim”
with Swami Ma Radha
April 5 - 11 2015


Guru Rimpoche Statue at SamdruptseTallest statue of Guru Rinpoche (Padmasambhava) in the world, at 36 metres (120 ft) located in Sikkim. He is considered the patron saint of Sikkim.


Statue of Padmasambhava at SRSG, Rishikesh

Padmasambhava at SRSG


Of the 2,500 kilometer (1,500 mile) arc of the land mass called the Himalayan mountain range, the Indian state called Sikkim can be found in the southeasterly portion, sandwiched between Nepal to the West and Bhutan to the East with the Tibetan autonomous region also to the East and North.

Little is known about Sikkim's ancient history.  The earliest historical mention of Sikkim is a record of the passage of the Buddhist saint Padmasambhava, (also known as Guru Rinpoche), through the land in the 8th century AD. The Guru is reported to have introduced Buddhism to the country, blessed the land, and foretold the era of monarchy that would arrive in Sikkim centuries later.

A geographically diverse country with awe inspiring Himalayan natural beauty, Sikkim contains socio-cultural fascination and spiritual political intrigue that continues to this day.

Come explore the reach of the Tibetan Buddhist tradition, linked to the Himalayan Tradition (Sri Swami Rama’s grand guru was from Tibet), in another region of Hindu-Buddhist harmony in India.

Please see this article on Wikipedia for much more detail (via Wikiwand for better formatting):

The country Sikkim, indicated with a red circle

7 days 6 nights

Opportunities for guided meditation and spiritual discussions with Swami Ma Radha throughout

Day 1

Day 2

Afternoon departure from Rishikesh to Delhi by bus/overnight hotel

Fly to Bagdogra airport and drive to Gangtok- settle in at hotel go over the next day’s activities

Day 3 Sight-seeing Gangtok: Rumtek Monastery, Ban Jhakri waterfalls, Do Drul Chorten (Stupa) Tibetology Center
Day 4 Full day excursion to Changu Lake, Baba Mandir and back
Day 5 Drive from Gangtok to Pelling 120 kms / 5 hrs approx.  Overnight hotel
Day 6 Sightseeing in Pelling visiting Khechipalri Lake, Rambi Falls, Kanchenjunga Falls, Pemayangste Monastery and Rabtense Ruins.
Day 7 Drive from Pelling to Bagdogra Airport.  Fly to Delhi – to onward destination.

Cost:  U.S.  $1,075.00 per person if paid in full by 29 January, $1,175 after that.
         double occupancy /minimum 10 participants (+1-Ma Radha)

Package cost includes the following specific services:


Six night’s hotel accommodation (as per itinerary), win sharing basis, includes all existing taxes. Single room supplement available.


Accommodation based on Bed and Breakfast + Dinner Basis.


Domestic flights – Delhi-Sikkim-Delhi


Local English speaking guide service during visit.


Meeting and assistance on arrival/departure by travel representative.

Transfer from airport to hotels and vice-versa.

Transfers, sightseeing tours, excursion as per programme

Gangtok Sightseeing using Non AC Van/Similar

Cost does not include:

  • Airfare from your home country to India
  • CAMERA FEES- At monuments etc. , Monument entrances
  • ITEMS OF PERSONAL NATURE - such as laundry, table drinks, telephone bills, tips to room boys, drivers, guides, Personal Clothing including sleeping bags etc.
  • Any other services not mentioned in our heading “package includes”.


-        Baggage weight limit on domestic flights is 15 kg.  Opportunities for storage of some baggage in Delhi (nominal charges applied)

-        Updated detailed itinerary information will be sent three weeks prior to trip departure.


Register here


Additional notes:
Photo of SRSG Padmasambhava by Manuel Tama
Photo of Sikkim Padmasambhava from Wikipedia
Some text of Sikkim description from Wikipedia