TAMIL NADU

Inner path on hill out of bounds for ‘girivalam’

A view of the street near Sri Arunachaleswarar temple in Tiruvannamalai.— File Photo

A view of the street near Sri Arunachaleswarar temple in Tiruvannamalai.— File Photo  

Incidents of forest fire have sparked this new ban

Performing girivalam around Tiruvannamalai hill, on a footpath known as ‘inner path’ has been banned.

While the regular girivalam path attracts several lakh devotees during full moon days, the inner path, actually a coarse footpath that passes through forest and much closer to the hill, attracts few thousand foreign tourists and domestic devotees.

District Forest Officer V. Naganathan said, “The path passes through reserve forest and entering reserve forest itself is an offence. Repeated incidents of forest fire occurred in the hill due to indiscriminate entry into forests. Now we have issued specific orders banning the practice of performing girivalam in the inner path”. During last full moon day, forest personnel asked thousands of people who were treading the inner path to get out of the forests and to walk on the regular path. We got written undertaking from some of the violators to not to take the path again, he said.

“Some ashrams are known to have involved in arranging inner path girivalam for their guests. We have asked them to not to arrange this practice again. If people walking on inner path refer to any ashram, we will take action against it. We have ordered for the removal of paint markings made on stones along the path. We are planning to close the entry points to the path and to put hoardings in about 50 places which warn against the practice of performing girivalam inside the forest. Forest personnel would be deputed in the inner path in the coming full moon days and action would be taken against people who violate the ban,” Dr. Naganathan said.

Initially the path attracted only a sparse number of nature lovers and devotees who love wilderness. But as the regular girivalam path is becoming commercialised day by day, the inner path started attracting more number of people and faced resultant ecological threats. Finally came the forest department ban.

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