This Monday myself and my friend E.Ravi decided to take off the next day and go for a drive away from Chennai. That’s how we ended up going to Sholingur this Tuesday (15th March). Sholingur is a town in Vellore District of Tamil Nadu, near to Arakonam and Thiruthani. The town is famous for its Lakshmi Narasimha Swamy Temple on a big hilltop and Yoga Hanuman Temple on a smaller hilltop. From Chennai, you have two routes to go to Sholingur town. One is NH4 (Chennai-Bangalore Highway) going up to Walajapet and then proceeding to Sholingur, this is a longer route (131 Kms) and we were told by people who go there frequently that road from Walajapet to Sholingur is not that good. So we took the other route which is NH205 (this is the road you take to go to Tirupathi from Poonamalle) and SH54 which in total turns out to be a distance of about 120 Kms from T.Nagar, Chennai. Travelling on NH205 once you reach Thiruthani go towards Railway station and get on to the road (left) to go to Vellore via Chithoor, this is SH54 and then follow on signs for Sholingur. Once you are near the town you start to see the Hill Top and easily find your way towards the base car parking.
Once you reach the base, you need to leave your footwear and start your climb up the big hill barefoot (thank the good souls who have sponsored and put up a metal-sheet ceiling all through the path to protect the pilgrims from the heat). Climbing by foot is the only way to reach the temple, I was told a cable car has been planned in the next few years by local authorities. The steps are pretty steep but can be climbed by all able people with some effort. In our enthusiasm to reach up quickly, we both hurried up the steps and after few hundred steps found ourselves slowed down considerably, resting every few steps and gasping for breath. As you climb your way up, I kept wondering how the priests and others working in the temple do this trip every day. After nearly a one hour and climbing 1305 steps on hard rock, you reach the beautiful temple.
There are hundreds of Monkeys all through the path and in the temple corridors, so you need to be careful on your belongings. Especially if you are carrying anything the Monkeys consider as food (Bananas, Jasmine flowers) you got to be extra careful in covering them completely. Some Monkeys seem to have the ability to spot out people carrying items of interest to them more easily than others, even when the items are covered. We were warned about the monkeys in the flower shop at the base and were given a long wooden stick “free” to protect us (it is more to scare the monkeys, I can never get myself to beat these cute monkeys). We had our offerings, water bottle and flowers covered and hidden safely inside a “gym” bag and had a little problem. On our way up and down, we found that as long as you mind your own business, don’t tease or stare them in their eyes, the Monkeys don’t trouble you.
While coming down we hurried very fast and made it down in about 5-10 minutes, so in the last hundred feet found our feet trembling on the pressure. It would have been better to do the climb up and down more slowly with rests to prevent any strain and exhaustion. Carry plenty of water with you and with a light stomach (you do get Sodas & Fresh Lime Juice in a shop near the 600th step).
We started from Chennai at 8 AM we reached Sholingur town at around 10.45AM (a 20-30 Minute stop for breakfast in Motel Highway at Nazarathpet). Started the return from Sholingur at 1 PM and reached Chennai before 4 PM (a 30 Minute stop for Lunch in Motel Highway again). If you are planning to go to Sholingur, enjoy the trip and have a great Darshan.