Introduction A temple visit from Chenna, is always a nice experience, particularly in the month of September. It should be noted that even with a limited budget one can always combine two temple visits. This is particularly true for those who are spiritually inclined.
The temple at Sholinghur is the Yoga Narasimha temple, which is situated on top of a hillock. It is possible to reach the top after climbing 1305 steps. It is a thrill to walk to the top of this temple at 6 a.m. in the morning. It will take just one hour to reach the top. The temple authorities normally close the temple at around 11 a.m. and reopen the temple at around 4 p.m. However, it is a bit tiring to climb this temple at 4 p.m. in the evening. Then once can visit Tiruthani. The two towns are very small towns. Both the towns are connected by trains, and all Mumbai trains touch Tiruthani which is right on the Andhra border. There are many EMU trains to Arakkonam as well, and one can always take these trains and then take the bus to reach Tiruthani instead of waiting for the direct EMU train.
Let us have look at some important aspects.
How to reach Sholinghur Sholinghur is a municipal town with a total population of around 2,2 hundred thousand people. It is a nice place, with all the basic amenities. It is around 100 kilometers by car and there are several routes from Poonamalee on the outskirts of the metropolis. However, the best way to reach Sholinghur is by train and there are at least three to four trains that stop at Sholinghur. For example, there is the Chennai to Bangalore Lalbagh Express that leaves Chennai at 3.30 p.m. every day. Tickets can be booked online and the second class sitting accommodation is fine enough. The train takes 90 minutes to reach Sholinghur. Immediately after alighting from the station, one should climb up the staircase and reach the overbridge. It is possible to find one or two buses to Sholinghur, at around 5 p.m. The local people will guide anyone in this regard.
Exclusive autos to reach Sholinghur town, which is situated at a distance of 14 kilometers, would cost around Rs. 350. Alternatively, it is fine to book tickets up to Arakkonam, alight at Arakkonam, and take a bus to Sholinghur. This bus will take the tourist to the main town, and near the bus stop, there are many fairly good lodges. There are a few okay types of vegetarian hotels near the bus stand. One is the hotel Khanna and another hotel is the one bang opposite the bus stand. The tourist should opt for eating stuff like idlis for dinner. From the main bus stand, one can find a number of autos that go to the Kondapalayam area, where the temples are situated. The big temple is that of Yoga Narasimha. The tourist should book online and stay in any of the lodges. The first temple is best seen at around 7.30 a.m. and hence one has to start climbing the steps at 5.45 a.m. or 6 a.m. It is fine to climb the steep steps in a zigzag fashion. After praying to the Lord, one has to climb down.
Another temple is the Yoga Anchaneya temple but here one has to climb just 600 steps. There is also the Yoga Narasimha temple in the town and after visiting the two hillock temples, one can go to the town temple.
After completing the two temple visits, one should board a bus to Tiruthani and see Lord Muruga in the temple there.
How to reach Tiruthani As already mentioned, it is possible to stay either at Tiruthani or at Sholinghur. A vast majority of people prefer to stay at Sholinghur. The rich drive down to Sholinghur via Perambakkam, Thakkolam, and Arakkonam by the State Highway and stay at Sholinghur. They would complete both temple visits and then proceed to Tiruththani. It should be noted that this temple is one of the six abodes of Lord Muruga, and is a fabulous temple to visit. There are many small shops just outside the temple, but tourists should do well to not buy anything. If the crowd is not much, one can follow the free route to worship the Lord. The queue takes around one hour on normal days. There are auspicious days for Lord Muruga and it is not advisable to visit Tiruthani on these days. The crowd would be large. Millions who come to Tirupathi, often visit Tiruthani, which is just around 90 minutes by express train and even a bit less by car.
Useful tips The only problem with both towns is the lack of good vegetarian hotels. There are many in the average category. Velu Mess in Tiruthani is reportedly good for the tiffin items. As both the towns have only average hotels, it is advised to restrict your food to just the idli or dosa for breakfast.
Furthermore, Sholinghur has one of the biggest monkey populations in the whole of Tamil Nadu. So do not carry anything in hand, not even a sling bag. It is wise to use the lock and key at the lodge and put all valuables there. Women should never wear flowers on their heads. Plastic bags should also not be taken at all. Even for their own safety, just for keeping the monkeys away, it is advised to buy a stick sold for five or ten rupees at the entrance to either temple. Women can wear glass bangles as this is a custom. But flowers should not be worn at all. The monkeys also pounce on mobile phones. Hence, it is advised to put them deep into one's pocket. A thick jute bag with a zip is the best. The monkeys do not harm those who travel in groups of four or five. They pounce on strangers who wear flowers or sometimes offer fruits. Never ever offer anything to the monkeys. They eat the fruits from each house in the town. They ransack everything and are fed at any time of the day. So one should not have any pity on the monkeys.
There are many buses that connect both towns and hence the tourists need not use the taxis at all. The share autos are available to take the tourists to the temples at Sholinghur. The exclusive auto rickshaws would cost between Rs. 200 and Rs. 250.
Conclusion A visit to these two places, just less than 130 kilometers in total, can be completed within two days. It is wise to stay at Sholinghur and stay for the night and then proceed to Tiruthani. One should note that there are no other big things to see at either place. The temple visits are particularly for those who are spiritually inclined. They are bound to enjoy the trip that can be completed with a budget of just around Rs. 2500 for two people.