Drawing the Pathala Lingam is in the foreground and the background corner is where Ramana Maharshi sat in meditation.

Guhai Namasivaya mandapam

Over the centuries, many saints and sages have been drawn to Arunachala. The Saivite saints Manickavachagar, Appar, Sambandar and Sundarar are four examples. In the fifteenth century, Guhai Namasivaya, Guru Namasivaya and Virupaksha Deva came from Karnatka and settled on Arunachala. Saint Namasivaya lived in one of Arunachala's caves which is still known by his name. Virupaksha Deva lived in an Om-shaped cave higher up on the Hill, and this cave too still bears his name. Located on the south-east slope of Arunachala, this was the cave that Sri Ramama maharhi lived in from 1899 to 1916.

Samadhi of Guhai Namasivaya

Guhai Namasivaya is known to have been born around the year AD 1548 in Karnataka to a pious Saiva couple. According to his somewhat hagiographical biography, his spiritual nature became evident at an early age: he was virtuous in his conduct, adept at his studies and evinced no attachment to worldly matters. Feeling a great longing to receive the grace of the Lord, he embarked at an early age upon a search that led him to Sivananda Desikar, a famous Guru who lived at Sri Sailam. He became a disciple of this Guru and began to serve him with fervent and selfless devotion.

Arunachala Hill From Pachaiamman Koil

This place is also known by the names Arunagiri, Annamalai Hill, Arunachalam, Arunai, Sonagiri and Sonachalam.


Thiruvannamalai has the honour of providing an abode for saints such as Arunagirinathar, Vitpatchathevar, Gugai Namachivayar, Guru Namachivayar, Deivasigamani, Arunachala Desikar, Mahan Seshadri Swamigal, Bagawan Ramana Maharishi, Sri Yogi Ram Surathkumar and the like.


Exploring Arunachala, Carol and I came across another cave, one under a rock that has a shrine and ashram built around it. We were told by the Arunachala Mountain Guide, Saran, who grew up near this spot, that this is called Palamaram Ashram and is ‘generations’ old and has been run by one family for these generations. Palamaram is the Tamil word for ‘jackfruit’ (but we did not see a jackfruit tree). The guru who was most recently active here, per Saran, was Palamaram Swamy, who was here for 40 years and for the last 15 years has been in the Himalayas. He said the Ashram is presently handled by Srinivasam.

Virupaksha Deva cave_Thiruvannamalai Mountain

Virupaksha Cave is located 200 ft below Skandashram Cave in Thiruvannamalai District in Tamil Nadu. It was named after a great 13th century saint, Virupaksha Deva, who spent most of his life here and when he died his body got transformed to vibhuti (sacred ash). This sacred ash is preserved here and daily pujas are organized. There is a small compound wall with a gopuram on the eastern side, housing a small cave. A group of seven springs are found below the main peak on the east slope.