Arunachala, a geological view

  • According to a geological study of the Continents, it seemed that the continents were once a huge mass of land, part of an ancient super continent Pangea. In course of time this huge mass of land broke up into fragments which began to drift, forming the present continents. Certain continents (S.America and Africa, Africa and India with Madagascar in between; India and Australia; and Antartica) now far apart seem to fit together if joined. A study of positions of magnetic poles measured from rocks in two of the continents likewise indicated relative movement between the two continents. Also the geological structures and formation of rocks particularly charnockite seem to perfectly fit as one single mass when these continents are put together. The distribution of certain flora and fauna belonging to Gondwana Land – supercontinent Pangaea, which is the convergence of the movements of continents about 350 million years ago.

    The section of land from Tiruvannamalai towards Villupuram contains various stages of migmatisation of charnockite (of Tiruvannamalai it is 2.55 billion years) and the associated members culminating in the formation of Gingee pluton (2.5 billion years). The evidence gathered from geological studies made in Tiruvannamalai during the 1970’s throws light on the formation of the charnockite and related assemblages of rocks older than 3000-3500 million years. The rock formation in this section as explained in the process of migmatisation of charnockite and associated rocks in phases culminated in the evolvement of Gingee Pluton consisting of granite composition.

    A detailed study of the world mountains, with particular reference to India, reveals the following features : The world’s famous mountain ranges like the Alps, the Rockies, the Andes, the Himalayan and Applatian ranges contain high peaks at very high altitudes, but geo-chronologically they do not come under the Archaeon period and belong to younger ages. The upheaval of the Himalayas was not a continuous process but took place in four phases. Himalayan ranges are less than 50 million years old, whereas the upheaval was in one single phase for the holy hill of Arunachala.

    The Tiruvannamalai hill is an imposing landmark with an elevation of 2634 feet and is the highest peak in the hill ranges found conspicuously in the western and southwestern directions of Tiruvannamalai; the eastern and southeastern parts of Tiruvannamalai on the other hand are gently undulating plains dotted with few knolls and mounds. Also it would appear that among other mounainous belts, the Deccan plateau in Southern India including Tiruvannamalai is one of the areas of little or no tectonic activity i.e. seismologically these belts have not changed their characterisitics drastically over a long period of time. In recorded history the origin and flow of rivers, homosapiens, flora and fauna are geo-chronologically far later developments.

    From the above inferences, it is clear that the holy hill of Arunachala is older than the Himalayas (mount Everest or Kailash) and hence the oldest natural shrine in the world. And so, Manickavasagar, one of the ancient 63 Tamil saivaite saints hails Lord Arunachala as ‘older than the oldest’ and ‘later than the latest’.

    (courtesy: French Institute Research studies on Tiruvannamalai and Ramana’s Arunachala by Devotees)