The less frequented cave temples at Kuranganil Muttam in Tiruvannamalai district.
The less frequented cave temples at Kuranganil Muttam in Tiruvannamalai district.

Tiruvannamalai’s vast temple, heritage tourism potential yet to tapped fully

Though unique rock formations existed near Arcot in Ranipet district, they were damaged by locals lacking knowledge of the exotic structures.

TIRUVANNAMALAI: Chennai residents will soon be able to de-stress themselves if the enormous tourism potential in Vellore and Tiruvannamalai districts are capitalised on by the government. A few steps can easily create interesting weekend getaways in these districts, sources said.

“All it needs is assiduous monitoring and proper follow-up as such efforts will go on to become money spinners for the state,” said S Sethu long time Tiruvannamalai resident and an expert on local temples.

Tiruvannamalai is known for new stoneage sites with abundant rock and cave paintings, inscriptions and hero stones in addition to many famous and historic temples whose potential of religious/temple tourism is yet to be fully tapped.

“A year ago we sent a proposal – based on request - to develop a tourist circuit using lesser known cave temples at Kuranganil Muttam, Seeyamangalam and Mamandur,” said C Balamurugan, secretary, Tiruvannamalai Centre for Historical Research.

If developed, the temples will get a new lease of life while visitors will also become knowledgeable about our heritage while generating revenue for the government, he added.

Sethu said, “Three years ago, TTDC (TN Tourism Development Corporation) would bring in a bus load of NRI tourists during the monthly Pournami for darshan at Arulmigu Arunachaleswarar Temple. But, this stopped when an official objected to it. It was never resumed.”

When asked about the future potential he said, “The Regnugambal Temple at Padavedu, the Angalamman Temple at Malayanur and the Tiruvannamalai temple can be a one circuit with the Adhi Thiruvarangam Temple located 20 km from the temple town included. The Tirukoilur Temple and the Tiruvannamalai temple being another circuit. Each circuit can be covered in a day.”

Collector B Murugesh said, “the district administration sent proposals for temple tourism and adventure tourism to the state government. The adventure tourism package, including camping, trekking and sports on a 6 acre site in the Jawadhu Hills was accepted and is now in the DPR (detailed project report) preparation stage.”

Trekking has potential in the district, but the Forest department fearing fires does not allow climbing of the 2,664 feet high Annamalai Hill except during the Maha Deepam. “Trekking can be allowed here if Forest department staff accompany visitors and if it is for one day,” an official seeking anonymity said.

From historic fort to scenic hills, Vellore has sites to enthral all

Vellore district boasts of a historic fort, which is a tourist draw due to the beautiful moat. A sound and light show has been planned under the Smart City project on the Fort.

The Yelagiri Hills 85 km from Vellore in Tirupattur district is a hill station with boating and games for children. Hang gliding started here in the hills some years ago was stopped when an accident lead to the death of a glider.

According to avid history buff C Tamilvanan, “Vellore town and district have many sites which can be easily visited. Bagavathymalai, which is part of the town has facilities for trekking and monuments for seeing while Vilapakkam in neighbouring Ranipet district has rock cut temples of the Pallava period. Chendrayanpalli near Gudiyattam has paleolithic sites while a megalithic burial site sits untouched as it is part of the government school in Pallikonda, 20 km from Vellore.”

A megalithic burial site remain untouched as it is part of the government school in Pallikonda, 20 km from Vellore.
A megalithic burial site remain untouched as it is part of the government school in Pallikonda, 20 km from Vellore.

Though unique rock formations existed near Arcot in Ranipet district, they were damaged by locals lacking knowledge of the exotic structures. “The Jalaganteswarar Temple inside the fort is historic as it was built along with the fort by the Nayaks,” Tamilvanan added. The fort also boasts of the ASI and state government museums, which are visited by school students and tourists, sources said.

“The Sathuvachary hills have watch towers built during the Nayak period, but reaching them is arduous and can be attempted only by those young in heart and limb,” Tamilvanan added.

When asked, a senior government official on condition of anonymity said, “it requires a large and far reaching perspective to develop tourism in Vellore. Officialdom fails to realise that they can be huge money spinners if developed on the proper lines with guides to ensure tourists get their money’s worth.”

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