Naamaala Gavi, Tirumala
The phrase “Namam” represents the white clay found at the deeper layers of earth, which is used as the powder mixed with or without water to wear a flame shaped mark, starting from the central point between the eyebrows, going straight up near the top edge of the forehead specifically in Vaishnavite tradition is worn on the forehead in the shape of ‘U’ and a Red vertical line in the middle in three vertical lines. This Thirunamam is also called as Thirumani.
Since prehistoric times the preceding deity of Tirumala, Lord Venkateswara has been offered this tirunamam made of a specific rock collected from a cave called Namala Gavi which falls on the other side of the mountain standing opposite to the popular “Mokalla Parvatham”..
One has to walk down for about 2 kilometers, from Mokalla Parvatham towards Tirupati and on passing through the Akkarla gudi, will find a foot path of pedestrian trail to climb up the hill and on walking up hill, will find a spacious area on the foot path for resting of the upcoming pilgrims from Tirupati to Tirumala. It is from here one has to take a detour in to the woods following the yellow and white arrow marks laid by the predecessors, on the stones for about 4 kilometers to the cliff. Till here, the way is fine with only the dry leafs from the trees, But from here onward one has to be extremely careful of the rough, rocky and slippery trek, which may otherwise, proves
to be extremely fatal.
By exercising cautiousness and restraint, for about 1500 meters through the bushy terrain of non existing path, you will find a huge square rock dropped from above and held by the mountain. Just on crossing the rock you will find the first cave of Namala Gavi with somewhat low and moderately wide opening, where one has to walk in to the cave bent half way.
The cave gradually opens up to a height of about 10-12 feet as you get in to. You will find different sections as you get in deeper which appears to be a mystery as at some spots one can find that the cave is being used by somebody. It is because of darkness and fear of any animal presence, not many people got in to the depths of this cave, though it seems to be a lengthy one.
This cave is unique and does not resemble any other cave as the rock material here is different in nature. This cave has different shades of rock and in the first cave, one can find the more of red shaded stone which is believed to have been used as the namam in the middle. The second cave is about 15-18 feet from the first one and this cave has more of white stone which was used as the outer “u” shaped namam. The second cave is a spacious one with a bit narrow entrance and seems to be shorter than the first one.
A rub of finger, on the white rock gives enough and if applied as a namam, one feels cool on the forehead. It is a wonder that how these caves were formed and even a big wonder that how these were discovered by people at the edge of the cliff, ages before with no means transportation. Apparently, till the Ananthalwar’s crowbar episode, these white and red stones procured from these caves were used for Sri Swamivaru as tirunamam and from the crowbar incident on wards use of Camphor has come in to practice.
Namala Gavi is a beautiful and spiritual landmark in and is near to Ghanta Mandapam located in the Wonderful locales of Tirumala. To visit Namala Gavi, it is highly advised to take the help of guides, otherwise there are great chances of getting missed in thick forest and by all means this is highly adventurous one. One has to be very cautious of snakes, scorpions, other insects and off course any resting or living animals and be defensive. It is highly advised to venture in to this place only in groups with adequate safety measures, torch lights and consumables and not to drop any wastage or leftovers and empty pockets/water bottles and carry all the junk back for responsible disposal as this place is regarded to be highly sacred and popularly known as Namala Gavi Teertham.