Giri Pradakshina

In Sanskrit, Giri means mountain and Pradakshina means going around in clockwise direction. That is, going around the Arunachala Hill in the clockwise direction. One can start from the East gate (Tower or Gopuram) of Sri Arunachala temple or Sri Seshadri Swamigal Ashram or Sri Ramanashram but should end in the same place where started.

While going around the hill for Giri Pradakshina, devotees can have a darshan of Shivalingas located in the eight directions of the mountain. These temples were named based on Ashta Dikbalas namely Indra, Agni, Yama, Niruthi, Vayu, Varuna, Kubera, Isana. These Ashta Dikbalas worshipped those Shivalingas and hence temple was built based on their names.

Indralingam is situated in the Bazaar Road where one begins the Giri Pradakshina. Agnilingam and Niruthilingam are little bit inside from the main road while going around the hill. Yamalingam, Vayulingam, Varunalingam and Kuberalingam are on the mountain path itself. Apart from these eight Ashta Dikbalas Shiva temples, there are two Shiva temples dedicated for Sun and Moon called Suryalingam and Chandralingam respectively. They both are situated on the mountain path. One can see many temples, ashrams, jiva-samadhis of many saints while doing Giri Pradakshina.

There are certain prescribed rules and instructions that one should follow while doing Giri Pradakshina. They are given below:

Start doing Giri Pradakshina only after taking bath and putting viboothi or equivalent in the forehead. While doing the Pradakshina, chant the mantra of Guru or Ishta Devata or devotional songs. Always pray Lord Annamalaiyar at the beginning.

Do not wear sandals/shoes, use umbrellas even if the weather is very hot. Do not cover the body with a blanket even if the weather is cold.

Don’t do Giri Pradakshina using vehicles. Don’t use vehicles from half way through even if there is some pain while walking.

As the name suggests, Pradakshina means clock wise direction. Don’t do it in counter clockwise (Apradakshina) direction

Don’t smoke or use other items. Avoid at least while going around the hill.

Don’t entertain negative thoughts such as anger, lust, fear etc while going around the hill. Maintain devotion throughout.

Don’t do the pradakshina in hurry. One should walk slowly like a pregnant women. It is not a walking exercise but rather a meditation.

Always keep to the left of the road. Don’t go zigzag on the road. This is not a road law but it is recommended because devas, rishis and other subtle beings also go around the mountain path. Going zigzag is considered to disturb them.

It is better to do the Pradakshina alone. This will help us to develop silence, on pointed focus. If you are afraid of going alone, you can go with a group while singing the hymns. Don’t gossip or chat while doing the pradakshina.

Better to avoid spitting or urinating while doing the pradakshina.

Don’t sit anywhere just because of foot pain or discomfort.

Worship the mountain as Shivalinga whenever you come across Nandi or temples.

Nowadays, people go around the hill by walking only. Those days, they used to do Anga Pradakshina which means going around the hill by rolling their body. This is not an easy thing. Saints like Isakki Swamigal and Annai Sri Umadeviyar had done this several times.

Those days, month of Thula (Aippasai in Tamil or Oct 15 – Nov 15), Vrischika (Karthika in Tamil or Nov 15 – Dec 15) and Dhanur (Margazhi in Tamil or Dec 15 – Jan 15) were considered as the best month to do Giri Pradakshina. Nowadays, people do it year round.

Not only people, other subtle beings also do pradakshina all the time (day & night year round).

So far, nobody had died from the bites of poisonous creatures like snakes, scorpions etc while doing the Pradakshina. This is purely due to the grace of Lord Arunachaleswarar.

The best time to start the pradakshina is in the early morning between 3 AM and 4 AM. The 3 AM time was given by Mahaan Sri Seshadri Swamigal through Annai Sri Umadeviyar for the benefit of devotees in Kali Yuga. Those who do pradakshina during this time are mostly Mahaan’s devotees.

Often look at the mountain while doing the pradakshina and enjoy the beauty.

After completing the pradakshina, one should worship Lord Annamalaiyar and then return to their place.

Don’t take shower or sleep immediately after completing the pradakshina. This will nullify the good effects (or punya) after doing the pradakshina.