Russian tourist held for climbing Annamalai Hills in Tiruvannamalai

Forest officials said that along with two accomplices including a Russian woman, G. Sergei, a native of Kamensk-Uralsky city in Russia, has climbed the hillock in the early hours on Wednesday on the same route used by devotees and temple officials during Maha Deepam festival every year

Updated - January 05, 2023 01:36 pm IST

Published - January 04, 2023 10:31 pm IST - TIRUVANNAMALAI

A 34-year-old Russian tourist was held by forest officials for climbing the 2,668-feet-high Annamalai Hills in Tiruvannamalai on Wednesday.

A 34-year-old Russian tourist was held by forest officials for climbing the 2,668-feet-high Annamalai Hills in Tiruvannamalai on Wednesday. | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

A 34-year-old Russian tourist was held by forest officials for climbing the 2,668-feet-high Annamalai Hills in Tiruvannamalai on Wednesday.

Forest officials said thatG. Sergei, a native of Kamensk-Uralsky city in Russia, has climbed the hillock in the early hours on Wednesday on the same route used by devotees and temple officials during Maha Deepam festival every year. He was accompanied by two other persons, including a woman.

Once reached the hillock, the trio used a drone to shoot videos of the temple town including the Arunachalesvara temple. Based on an alert, along with Tiruvannamalai Town police, forest officials brought the trio to the foothills at around 11 a.m.

“The Russian tourist has a valid visa that expires only in October this year (2023). He has been in the town for the past few months and attended Maha Deepam last December as well,” N. Srinivasan, Forest Range Officer, Tiruvannamalai range, told The Hindu.

At present, the Annamalai Hills come under Adinamalai RF, with over 900 hectares, spreading across a 9 km radius. However, the land around the foothills, spanning a distance of 6 km, belongs to the Revenue Department.

Encroachments, mostly houses, remain a challenge for Forest officials monitoring the vast reserve forest (RF). Taking advantage of this, people, including tourists, climb the hillock.

As per norms, climbing the hillock, surrounded by RF, is a trespass. Also, taking videos and using drones in the hillock is also prohibited for security reasons. Visitors were allowed to climb the hillock only during Maha Deepam festival with special permission issued by the Collector.

A case of trespassing under Indian Forest Act, 1927 has been filed by the forest officials.

Last month, a fire broke out near the foothills of the Hills after the lighting of the deepam atop the 2,668 feet-high hill, for the Maha Deepam festival. The Tiruvannamalai Range has seven RFs including Chippakadu, Athipakkam, Adinamalai and Sorakolathur, covering 13,000 hectares.

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