May be it’s true that God tests those seek him earnestly, lest why somebody like me who is far averse to mountaineering, trekking and adventures should have landed upon such a risky task in life?!
I’ve been always scared of heights – anything that has the potential to make me distant from earth. It brings the hell out of me even to imagine going up a hill which doesn’t have a proper path or stairs. I’ve avoided hill stations at all possible times throughout my life. I knew I had to overcome it one day or the other, but did not find the right chance to do it until an opportunity to take that risk came my way.
A few years before, we visited a relative’s place at Thenmaathimangalam. Having come so close to Parvathmalai, we were suggested not to miss a dharshan at this 2000 years old temple. Parvathamalai is a hill of around 3500 feet above sea level and is located near a small village in Tamilnadu, Thenmaathimangalam. This is 20 km from Polur, which is again 35 km from Thiruvannamalai. Lord Mallikarjunaswamy ,who tested my devotion in a dreadful way is seated at the top of this hill.
As a devotee of Lord Shiva, it was definitely an alluring suggestion. but we were also warned that the path is going to very tough and that one needs real courage to do this. There I was, completely stuck at first. But sooner, I decided this is a crucial task I need to do in order to battle that inner fear in me. A guide was sent with us to help us with the route on the hill. I thanked the Lord for this surprising invitation from Him. But also was afraid of looking down from above, though I did not lose my determination to win it at any cost.
It’s a dense hill with trees and rocks. The rocks are so huge and steep that it’s dead scary for any first time hill climbers. So it was to me! There are no clearly paved paths like in most other popular hill-top temples in India. So it’s a step-on-rock kind of a walk throughout. Of course, the heat was at its peak at that season of the year which did no good to us. I prayed a little and whined a little to Shiva to help me get to Him somehow. Merciful enough, he granted my wish. Well, just to reach Him, because that’s what I prayed for!
However, the most fearful, terrifiying, dangerous, risky, breath-taking episode of my life was yet to unfold – climbing down the Parvathamalai. I wonder why climbing down is usually spoken lighter than climbing up, may be because of the energy consumption levels. But to climb down a hill of this sort must be one of the real adventures of life. It was steep throughout with no place to bare. Nine out of ten chances is that you step with an intense grip of fear. As I keep my next step, I should make careful efforts to balance my whole body weight within the limits of my feet with indomitable grip. And there’s nothing to hold! With fear rising all through my nerves, my imagination traveled from slipping down the hill to lying dead to people mourning at my funeral and afterlife. I know wasn’t prepared yet to leave my children and family; so with all my possible efforts, I continued stepping down.
How I wished gravity was a myth and I can jump as if on Moon! Once, I slipped down a little distance before I could collect myself up. Almost a narrow escape from death! It’s still a wonder how I managed to reach the foot hill. What a relief it was! I finally did it! I am not sure if I will again take the risk of climbing a mountain but I am certainly sure I can look down the earth from a height without fear. I’ve did it once and it wasn’t as terrible as I assumed it to be all along.
We heard from the guide that several pilgrims visit Parvathamalai throughout the year and there has been no history of deaths or injuries at this place. Miraculous indeed! I am fond of Lord Shiva for the visions he has bestowed upon me years before. And it’s certainly a treat to my soul to worship Lingams at holy shrines. There are several Shiva temples that stand apart in my memory, to name a few, the mighty Brahadeeshwar temple at Tanjore and the ever-ecstactic Arunachaleshwar at Thiruvannamalai. However, one temple which stands victorious in my memory is the Parvathamalai temple of Lord Mallikarjunaswamy. An important battle and victory in my life.