Chaturagiri Hill-Where Spirtuality Meets Nature
I can still recall just a few years ago the most adventurous trip of my life .We were just a bunch of 5 guys in our teens excited to spend our summer vacations together. For the first time in our lives, we had the liberty to go on a trip without our parents. We wanted to make use of this once in a lifetime opportunity
I still fondly recollect the stories our uncle told us on a cold Saturday night that finally made us choose Chaturagiri hill over other places. The Stories really added to our excitement
The hill came to be called Chaturagiri or Sathuragiri Hills, because the mountain is surrounded by four other hills representing the four Vedas (Rig, Yajur, Sama, Atharvana). Also, it is believed that the hill is the abode of as many as 18 Siddhards, who constantly meditate on Lord Shiva.
The beautiful hill is situated in Madurai district, 50 km away from the main city. We started our journey at 7 am in the morning from a hotel and drove all the way up to the hill. The drive was as much enjoyable as was the climbing. We reached Thaaniparai – the entrance of the hill – around 9 am, and we decided to have breakfast before starting our journey.
We started off by offering prayers at a temple on the way and were guided by Orusol our guide for the trek.
Initially, we walked through half-decent roads that were replete with sharp stones, thorns, but as we moved forward, we had to scramble over damp rocks that tested our skills. We found Solace in small, cold streams that not only quenched our thirst but also reinvigorated our spirits.
Our first checkpoint was “Gorakkhar” cave(Cave of a Siddhar). It is believed even today that Gorakkhar spent his entire life in the cave, meditating on Lord Shiva. We were startled with every aspect of that cave, right from the very rocks that made the cave to a small tablet on which there was a rough painting of the Siddhar. The unbridled amazement came to a grinding halt after we felt exhausted.
Thankfully, We were able to rest our legs for a few minutes in a temple near the cave.
We started feeling hungry once again. Luckily, the priest offered us Prasadams (Pongal -chutney, Kesari) and a bottle of water. Never had I enjoyed so much, an activity as simple as drinking a water till that point in my life. Each and every drop of water that trickled down my throat gave me a titanic measure of confidence to stretch myself further.
After the much-needed rest, We started moving towards “SUNDARA MAHALINGAM” and “SANDHANA MAHALINGAM”,
Shrines that are famous for practicing Shiva puja. It was already dark, and we started feeling very cold, but our spirits did not dwindle. We insisted on continuing our journey but were advised against it, because a few wild animals(Bears and Cheetah’s) lived in the region. Therefore, we took refuge in one of the Ashrams that was 6-8 km away from the temple.
We were privileged to spend the entire night in the Ashram. The administrator of the Ashram shared interesting anecdotes on the experience of some of the pilgrims that previously visited the hill. As we paid absolute attention to his rather frightening stories, we heard the simpers of foxes and growls of bears. It was only then that the guide’s golden advice started to dawn on us. We took a moment to recognize the wisdom of our guide and went to bed with a deep sense of gratitude
We woke up before the dawn to the bell sound in the Ashram, probably they were performing some puja. We were literally quivering in cold as we couldn’t put up with the shrillness of the wind. The administrator walked up to us and directed us to a tap near the Well. Yes, we had to take bath in cold water or rather, ice water.
We set off at 6 am in what was the final stretch to the shrine. The roads were really steep and some part of it was covered with thick bushes. We were given a long stick to sift through those bushes. We were really watchful as we were afraid of snakes and forest insects. We sang songs along the way just to keep our spirits high. Finally, we reached the shrine where we saw many pundits chanting Mantras. The very sound of those mantras filled our hearts with ecstasy. We almost went through a transcendental experience. At last, the moment that all of us were yearning for arrived.
The temple doors opened to reverberant Vedic chanting’s, and there we saw the deity himself adorned with gold kavacham(armour). We were simply smitten by his splendor. We had a great darshan of the deity. Finally, our hearts filled with a sense of accomplishment. The feeling of conquering your fears and overcoming obstacles by being one among the nature was a true experience in itself.
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