Though the temple that Bhagavan lived in on the summit of Pavalakundru looks quite old, he mentioned that it was not more than fifty years old in the era when he himself lived there. There had been a much older temple on the site, but it had been partially destroyed in an 18th century battle. Bhagavan was told that the battle had involved Tipu Sultan, but it is more likely that it was the Battle of Tiruvannamalai which took place between Haider Ali and a British force in September 1767. Haider Ali was Tipu Sultan’s father. Tipu Sultan did annex Tiruvannamalai to his empire in a minor engagement in 1790, but I don’t think that this was the battle that destroyed the original Pavalakundru Temple.

 

The Pavalakundru Temple is the one on the rocky outcrop on the left of the photo. The picture was taken from the lower slopes of Arunachala, on the eastern side behind the Arunachaleswarar Temple.

Haider Ali is on the left. His son, Tipu Sultan, is on the right.

While Bhagavan was staying on the summit of Pavalakundru he found an old cannon, a probable relic of this 1767 battle, on the side of the outcrop that faces the Arunachaleswarar Temple, which is located a few hundred metres to the south. The cannon had been hauled up the slopes of Pavalakundru by Haider Ali’s forces in an attempt to gain enough elevation to fire cannon balls into the temple, which in those days was as much a fort as a temple. Bhagavan has commented that in his early days in Tiruvannamalai the walls of the temple on that side of town were still pockmarked with indentations made by the cannon balls that failed to clear the top of the temple wall.

David Godman Books

 

Books by David Godman on Ramana Maharshi, his devotees and his teachings