Monday was a very early morning, up not long after 4.30am because I had my Rick-Astley driver coming to pick me up at 5.30am. You see I had arranged to meet my guide for the day at 5.45-ish at the chai stall across the road from Ramanashram.
Just an aside and while we are at it, I’m not sure everybody will know what this Rick-Astley thing is all about and why I would call an auto-rickshaw and Rick-Astley. Here is a link to the most famous Rick Astley song which if you click on the link and check it out then you were just Rick Roll’d, but that’s another story altogether.
Back to the real story. So it’s dark and I manage to get a coconut at the chai stall which suited me just fine because the chai stall is in fact the chai stall that the coconut woman also owns.
Tara, my Inner Path guide, has done this seven times before so has to be considered quite an expert. You see the thing about the Inner Path is that about a third of it or more has to be done on the road because you can’t go on the hill all the way, or so the story goes. Because everyone says you cannot do the Inner Path entirely on the hill everybody seems to just accept it and that’s the end of that. But me being me was convinced it could be done and made enquiries. Legend has it that it can be done but it is not spoken of, that indeed that which is not spoken of could be spoken of and could be done, as I had expected.
Once I had asked around enough and eventually found a rebellious anorexic gypsy/hippie girl and because I would want to do this again I suggested we go in reverse as I had already discovered it was a very difficult track to find. Being rebellious she was more than happy to go anti-clockwise which meant that that which is never spoken of was also going to be done in a way that is never done. Interesting young girl actually. She was literally raised as a traveling gypsy in the UK and is the only person I met who was not one little bit shocked when arriving in India for the first time several weeks ago. She had sifted through rubbish bins when she was young so thought nothing of the mess that is India, funny thing !
6.00am we hit the path up to Skandashramam which is actually quite a steep 30 minute walk. When you are not warmed up and not long out of bed it really gets the heart working and lungs burning. The gypsy girl had a cold as well so she was suffering but at least being anorexic food was not going to be a problem over the next 5 or 6 hours. And they love to really go for it too, you know, really work hard, no slacking round on the way and no whining !
Then it is downhill a bit to Virupaksha Cave, a little bit further then there is a secret turnoff with a barrier across the path so you can’t go down it. So we went down it of course and we were on the way.This is Tara, my trusted mountain guide, overlooking the temple just before sunrise.
As you can see it's a well worn and easy path !
Was pausing under a tree when I felt little things landing on me, then drops of "water" Looked up and here was a Lemur throwing things and hopefully only spitting at me !
Tara may look as though she is posing (and is certainly super-model thin !) but at times this is actually the path, involving some serious rock negotiation.
Part way along the Inner Path route there is an alternative path for a part of the way called the Yellow Path, marked with these particular markings. The Yellow Path is apparently a bit faster for part of the journey but way steeper as it goes over the top of a substantial hill.
Guess which way we went ??