Skandashramam is where Sri Ramana Maharshi spent 7 years of his life. The trek from Ramanashramam may take a minimum of half an hour. Experience the calmness of Nature on the way. Hari Om! his is the first ashram that built up around Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi. He lived here from 1916 until 1922. Bhagavan moved from here down to the present Ramanasramam after his mother died at Skandashram. It is a simple and wonderfully peaceful ashram in what is like a lovely oasis on the side of Arunachala mountain. There is a good view of the magnificient Arunachaleswar temple from here. On entering this ashram one is automatically struck by the silence. It is a great place to meditate, read or pray. The Swami in charge opens it in the morning around 8.15 and does beautiful chanting in praise of Bhagavan for around 20 minutes. It takes about 30-45 minutes to walk here from Ramanasramam. The walk up the mountain to Skandashram is through a gate at the back of Ramanasramam and the path is clearly marked. Skandashram is a must for devotees or those interested in the life and teachings of Bhagavan.
Virupaksha Cave is where Ramana Maharshi sat for many years. It is located on the slopes of the Holy Mountain, Arunachala.It is a short walk up from the back side of the Big Temple (Arunacheleswara Temple) and a longer walk down from Skandashram, where Ramana also lived for many years. Virupaksha cave is infused with silence, like a stone, its depth. It is a small space to sit, and can get hot in the summer months, but the silence is deep, so stay and sit! You can also sit outside the cave.
Virupaksha Cave is named so because of its unique shape of that of an ‘OM’. The ashram is located on the east slope of Arunachala hill in the Thiruvannamalai and is a cave located on a small peak. The Virupaksha Cave is about 200 ft below the Skandashram cave and consists of a small gopuram on its eastern side. Virupaksha Cave was named after the popular Saint of the 13th century Virupaksha Deva who is believed to have spent most of his life in this cave. Some even believe that his body turned into ashes after Samadhi.
The hill itself is Shiva Linga. This is a temple of great significance in South India. The very thought of this temple ensures total salvation to the soul. This is the place that would destroy the “I” arrogance. Mother Uma performed penance here going round the hill to claim the left part of Lord Shiva. Lord Shiva granted His darshan to mother in the form of Light-Jyothi. This is the birth place of Saint Arunagiriar. Frustrated in life, when the Saint attempted to end himself, Lord Muruga protected him from death. Lord Muruga also made him a poet whose Tirupugazh hymns stand unmatched till today in the meter forms, syllables, melody and spiritual content singing the glory of Lord Muruga. Tiruvannamalai is the sacred place where Ligodhbava came into being first and followed in other Shiva Temples. The temple covers an area of 25 acres with 9 towers and 9 corridors-prakaras. The tower of the temple is the second tallest – 217 feet. The temple is always crowded with devotees as in Tirupathi. The temple was built in the 6th Century. The renovations of this ancient temple were done by Chera, Chola, Pandya and Vaisala kings at various periods. Tiruvannamalai was home to number of Siddhas in the past whose lineage continues even today. Their Holinesses Sri Seshadri Swamigal, Ramana Maharishi and Visiri Samiyar attained salvation on this sacred soil.