Friday, November 8, 2019

Ahobilam - The Enchanting Trek

October 20: After completion of the nerve racking jeep ride we repaired to our rooms briefly. We had a commanding view of the Eastern Ghats from the balcony abutting our rooms. We were getting ready for the final phase of our Ahobilam trip. So far the weather had been kind and conducive and there had been no obstacles. As we gazed at the ghats we witnessed a swathe of cloud cover and torrential rain battering down on the hills and in no time there was heavy downpour all around us. While the sight of the rain was electrifying and enthralling it also threw a spanner in our trekking plans for the afternoon. In a conundrum and after a brief spell of vacillation we decided to move on. The car dropped us off at Upper Ahobilam around 8 Kms from our guest house located at an altitude of 2800 feet on the banks of the Bhavanashini river cradled between Garudathiri and Vedathiri hills. By then the rain had almost completely receded and we were naturally elated. 
In Ahobilam Narasimhar is a ferocious form as he wanted to give darshan to both Devas and Garuda in the same form as when he killed Hiranyakashipu. Garuda did penance so that he could worship the Lord in the Narasimha avatar. Hence one range is called the Garudathiri hills. Next to this is a smaller sanctum of Chenchu Lakshmi who is considered a reincarnation of Mahalakshmi. She was reborn into a hunter family and did penance in order to remarry Lord Vishnu in the current avatar. Hence the second hill range is called Vedathiri hills.
At Ahobilam we collected bamboo sticks (available for hire) to protect ourselves from possible simian attacks as also to help us to climb up rocky terrain strewn with small and large uneven boulders and cross small streams of water gushing along. We witnessed many waterfalls cascading from great heights intensified and propelled by the prodigious rainfall. Fascinating and picturesque scenery greeted us all around - sheer rock faces looming high, verdant lush forestry on either side. Intermittent rainfall coupled with panoramic & bewitching views added to our intoxication. Galvanized we continued on with a new surge of energy and determination. A sense of jubilation enveloped us and we felt the presence of omnipotent omnipresent and omniscient Narasimha all around us pervading into our very beings and souls. The feeling is indescribable and we rapturously transcended to sublime levels. In the midst of this a small faux paux, a minor mishap. I tripped while crossing a small stream, a momentary act of carelessness and I lost balance and fell down sideways onto a rocky face. A bewildering fall but amazingly I escaped unharmed devoid of any lacerations or contusions or broken bones. A small miracle. I got up as if nothing had occurred and undeterred continued the indefatigable march towards our destination. On the way we crossed the Krodha Narasimhar or Varaha Narasimhar. It was 2.00 pm and the temple was closed for the afternoon.
We crossed a couple of narrow steel bridges and during the final lap ascend around 1000 steps, and reached the dizzying pinnacle from where we could view the Jwala Narasimhar Temple, the Ugra Sthambam and the Garudhathiri hill peaks shaped like a garuda or brahminy kite with its head at the centre and wide expansive wing spans on either side.It was indeed a stunning spectacle, an awe inspiring sight. We had to cross a narrow rocky ledge behind a magnificent waterfall to reach the sanctum of Jwala Narasimhar. Some of us could lean out and get completely drenched in the falls while others cupped their hands to drink the heavenly nectar - exhilarating teertham or holy water from the Narasimhas. We reach Jwala Narasimhar sanctum. Here is the Jwala or fiery form of Narasimhar which the Lord assumed to kill Hiranyakashipu. The main temple is a rock cut cave temple. In the sanctum there are three statues. The main deity is Narasimha who has eight hands and holds Hiranyakashipu on his lap. One of the left hands holds the demon's legs while another pair of hands pierce into the stomach to extract Hiranyakashipus intestines. The upper two hands hold a chakra and a conch. The temple is very small so there is a bit of jostling for space. On our exit we are offered panakam or jaggery water by tribals. Photo credits: Satheesh Kumar Rajamanickam.
The trek begins at Ahobilam base
A stream crossing
The Nallamala forest
Some scenic pictures
The Ugra Sthambham
The enchanting waterfall overflowing the rocky ledge

Garudamalai or Garudathiri Hills


  1. Thank you for the wonderful write up with awesome pictures.The old and infirm like me can never dream of the arduous trek.Does the temple lend itself suitable for a winch as in Palani to the highest point?

    1. No winch facility. But human powered wooden palanquins are available for hire.


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