Most Day Tours are given in and around Tiruvannamalai. Those outside Tiruvannamalai will likely take more than 1 day.
Visit the 8 Asta Lingams. The 8 Asta lingams represent the purest energy of each planet. The lingams were placed by a Siddha (as instructed by Lord Shiva), who knew the exact point where each planets energy falls on Earth, around Arunachala mountain. At the lingams, people should pray for help with their difficulties that come from different planets (as seen in the astrological birth chart). They heal difficulties that come from our karma.
Visit Temples. There are numerous temples to visit in Tiruvannamalai and throughout South India. In Tiruvannamalai, a town known for it's spiritual focus, Arunachaleshwar Temple has the biggest biggest draw. It is the second largest temple in India, and is approximately 1500 years old. The temple is dedicated to Shiva. Just opposite Arunachala is Adi Annamalai Temple, which is smaller but older than the "Big" temple. The two temples are connected, and are landmarks for legends of Shiva.
There are many other temples to see as well, like a temple for Hanuman, Vishnu, Durga, Shiridi Sai Baba, and many others. Visit for blessings, prayers and empowerment.
Visit Ashrams. There are several ashrams in Tiruvannamalai area, and in surrounding areas. The most popular is the Sri Ramana Ashram, which has a steady flow of guests. Also here are Yogai Ramsuratkumar Ashram, and Sri Sheshadri Ashram. Spend time in meditation, partake of a puja or sit in on chanting that happens at these ashrams daily.
Go around Arunachala by Oxcart. This is a fun and easy way to do girivalam of Arunachala. For people of all ages, to be done with a group. Stops will be made along the way, at temples and other points of interest.
Visit Sacred Sites of Sri Ramana Maharishi. An important site of Sri Ramana is his birthplace and home near (1) Maduarai. (2) Tirukovilur was the spot Sri Ramana first stopped on his way to Arunachala mountain. He spent time at a couple of the temples there, where there are stories of extraordinary things happening while he was there. When Sri Ramana arrived in Tiruvannamalai, he spent his first many months living in a cellar room at (3) Arunachaleshwar Temple. After leaving the big temple, Sri Ramana went and stayed at (4) Pavalakundru, which is a small hilltop Shiva temple. Next he went to (5) Mango Tree Cave, and then on to (6) Virupaksha Cave. Next he was built his first ashram, (7) Skandashram, built into the mountainside. From there he continued to roam around Arunachala, spending time at other caves, springs and walking on and around Arunachala mountain.
Visit Sri Puram and Sri Narayani Peedam. This temple is also known as the "Golden Temple", as it is encased in 1.5 tons of pure gold. This temple houses Lakshmi, the Goddess of Abundance. She blesses people with both material and spiritual abundance. She helps people to feel open, unrestricted and free from fear. Also next to Sri Puram is a temple for the Goddess Narayani, where an Avatar, Sri Shakti Amma, gives pujas for the public almost daily. This is a great chance to be near a living Saint. At the end of puja it may also be possible to receive blessed herb water directly from Amma and speak a few words. Amma speaks English.
Gingee Fort. It is believed that the building of this fort was started in the 9th century, by the Chola dynasty, but it was added to over the centuries, as late as the 1600's. Gingee (also known as Senji) was thought to be impregnable, and ranged over 3 hills, spanning 14 kms. It is a site to see. Gingee Fort is about 45 minutes from Tiruvannamalai.
Nadi Leaf Reading, near Chidambaram. These Nadi Leaf Readings happen in a village outside the popular temple town of Chidambaram, at the main Nadi Leaf Library of Tamil Nadu (the headquarters where most Nadi Leaves are stored). The history of the Nadi Leafs is this: several Enlightened Master's recorded some of the main aspects of the lives of people who would be born thousands of year after the recording of these lifetimes (which are written on Palm Leaves, and stored in tight, narrow stacks, as seen in the picture). This reading can be very helpful, if you are lucky enough to find your leaf, and can help clarify your destiny, and what events are in store for you. This process takes time, and not all people have a leaf (and not all leafs can be found on the first try). This will take patience and understanding. Keep this in mind before you decide to go attempt to get your Nadi Leaf read.
Visit Agastya Mountain. Home to one of the first Siddha's (immortal Enlightened beings) and also said to be a meeting spot for all the 18 Siddhas of Tamil Nadu, Agastya Mountain is a powerful spot. Enjoy meditation while you bask in the energy of the Immortal Siddhas.
Visit Sacred Caves of Arunachala. There are a few caves on Arunachala that have been used by Enlightened masters for meditation over the past 1000's of years or more. These caves still hold the energy of high consciousness, which was experienced within. Virupaksha Cave is one such high energy cave. Visit Skandashram, Sri Ramana Maharishi's first little ashram on the mountainside. It is dug into the rock of the mountain, where puja is performed every day in the Vedic tradition.
Walk Girivalam. Girivalam is Tamil and means, to walk around the mountain. In Tiruvannamalai, this of course means to walk around Arunachala. This is something people do to gain spiritual support, blessings for their life, and help with any problem. Also, simply to increase Peace in ones life. Walking Girivalam is very popular at the full moon every month, but it can be done any day of the year.
Climb Parvati Mountain. Visit mountaintop 1200 year old temple. This is a very special mountain, with beautiful views, and a rich spiritual history. Siddha's have been known to live at Parvati Mountain. Many sacred herbs grow here as well. The climb is steep in some areas, so this climb may not be for everyone. Though it could help you overcome your fear of heights.
Visit Pondicherry and Auroville. There are many things to see and do here. Pondicherry/Auroville are located right on the Indian Ocean. It's a popular destination for tourists and spiritual seekers alike. Accommodation ranges from simple ashram guesthouses to 5 Star hotels. Visit the Sri Aurobindo Ashram, the Matri Mandir (a beautiful sphere made for meditation), and many other temples in the area.
*There is also good shopping in Pondicherry and Auroville.
Javadi Hills. This range of hills in about 75 km from Tiruvannamalai, with a good winding road, and beautiful views all around. There are spots of interest at Javadi Hills, such as the Beemanmadavu waterfalls, and an astronomical observatory, erected in 1967. But, the whole atmosphere is quite spectacular, giving a feeling of being transported far back in time, with small, clean and quaint villages dotting the hills.
Teerthamalai. This a another sacred Siddha mountain, located about 70 km from Tiruvannamalai. Teerthamalai is named for the Holy Water that flows in the form of 5 springs, on the hill. The 5 springs converge at the Teerthagirishwarar temple, about 1 km up a steep slope on the hill. There are stories of Sri Rama spending time here and performing pujas on this mountain. Also, many of the royal families over the centuries stopped here on pilgrimage. Another very special spot.
Mamalapuram. Visit this Ocean-side historical town, just South of Chennai. Mamalapuram is a popular stop for tourists interested in seeing old, beautiful carving, temples and works of art. The atmosphere of this quaint, beachside little town is also a part of its appeal.
Kanyakumari. At the South tip of Tamil Nadu, this is a power spot, with many temples. Visit Vivekananda's island ashram, out in the Indian Ocean. Also, visit the temple of Ayya Vaikundar, who lived in the 1500's. He was known as an Avatar, who left the world behind while sitting in his room. No one saw him leave, and he left behind his hair, fingernails, his mala that he always wore, and his walking stick.
Kerala Houseboat Tour. We can arrange a house boat for a large group, or just a few people, as these houseboats come in many sizes. You can spend just one day, or more days, just getting away from all the activity on land. An ideal location for a group meditation or yoga retreat! And the scenery is just spectacular...
Kodaikanal Hill Station. Is it getting too hot for you down in the lower towns and villages of South India? Maybe it's time to go to a hill station like Kodaikanal. Kodaikanal is full of hiking trails, 360 degrees of beauty, and very pleasant climate. In fact, you may even need to wear layers in the morning and evening times here.
Ooty Hill Station. Ooty is the most popular hill station of South India. If you like lots of activities and lots of people around, then Ooty is great to visit between April and May, when South India becomes almost unbearable down in the lower areas. But there is a reason for Ooty's popularity, it is just stunning! For those who want a quieter tour of this hill station, plan to visit in the less busy months.