I am back!. Our three days trip to Tirupati went well by God’s grace. As planned, we started early morning at around 5.30 AM on Saturday, and came back yesterday i.e., Monday at around 10 PM.
The route that we took for Tirupati was Mangalore – Hassan – Bangalore – Kolar – Chittoor – Tirupati.
We stopped for breakfast at Hassan. Next on route was Bangalore. We kind of got stuck in the Bangalore traffic. Horrible. I wonder how people travel in Bangalore. We did not enter the Bangalore city. We moved towards Kolar. We reached Kolar at around 4 PM, and we hadn’t had lunch. So, we stopped at a hotel called Kamat Upchar on the highway. Had lunch/snacks and continued our travel. We reached Tirupati at around 8.30 PM.
Sign on top of the Tirumala Hills
I think we were kind of very lucky. All along the trip, it did not rain!. (not even a single drop of rain!). Given the fact that cyclone warning was issue in and around this area, its a miracle!!! Also, due to the cyclone warning, and heavy rains, lot of trains and buses to Tirupati were cancelled. So, there wasn’t any crowd!. Now, thats the second miracle! Just to give you an Idea, on an average, Tirupati temple is visited by around 1,00,000 devotees every day. Normally, people spend hours (and in some cases, days) together in queues to get a glimpse of Lord Venkateshwara. And on festive days, the number doubles!. There is a very efficient system of queues etc to control the crowd. But, the point is, you need to wait!! On the day we reached Tirupati, it was virtually empty. So, it was really our luck. Or, you can say, God’s Grace.
The Temple Complex. Image Courtesy : Tirumala.org
BTW, Tirupati is the name of the city. Lord Venkateshwara’s temple is located on Tirumala Hills. Its around 22 km uphill from the Tirupati city. Devotees can either take the road route to reach Tirumala, or can walk (i.e. climb the stairs) all the way up. Its an 8 km walk. It takes around 4 hours to go walking to the top.
Around 9 of our family members decided to walk to the Tirumala hills. I took the road route. We reached Tirumala at around 11 PM, and occupied the guesthouse that we had booked. The room was decent enough. It was a three bedroom apartment with some basic facilities. At around 1.30 AM, the folks who had decided to walk reached Tirumala.
We had booked for something called the “Archanantara Darshana” early in the morning at around 5 AM. So, we had to get up early in the morning. We reached the temple at around 4.15 AM, and soon we were on the queue. As per my estimate, there were around 600 to 700 people already on the queue. But we didn’t have to wait for long. We got Lord Venkateshwara’s Darshana at around 5 AM.
Belive it or not, its really a thrilling experience to see the Lord Venkataraman’s Idol. I just can’t describe it! You have to feel it for yourself. Due to massive amount of people, you hardly get few seconds to see the Lord’s Idol. But belive me, its one thing that you have to experience. Its like the God is standing right there in front of you!
Lord Venkataraman’s Idol. Image Courtesy : Tirumala.org
After the Darshana, we came back to our room, took some rest. We had booked one more Seva in the evening called the Sahasra Deepalankarana Seva. So, we were kind of free for the whole day. So, we decided to see some other temples around Tirupati. We started at around 9 AM, and returned back at around 4 PM.
We saw the Sri Kapileswaraswami Temple, Sri Kalahasti Temple, Sri Padmavathi Ammavari Temple.
Sri Kapileswaraswami Temple (Click to Zoom)
Sri Kalahasti Temple (Click to Zoom)
Sri Padmavathi Ammavari Temple (Click to Zoom)
We went back to the Tirumala temple at 5 PM for the Sahastra Deepaalankara Seva. This Seva is a very beautiful one. The God’s Idol (not the one inside the Garbagudi*) is placed over a Swing, and the Seva goes on.
Sahastra Deepaalankara Seva. Image Courtesy : Tirumala.org
From the Tirumala Website:
This seva is performed in the Unjal Mandapam. The Mandapam glows with the lights of sahasra deepa (a thousand earthern lamps). The Lord is seated on an unjal, which is rocked gently to the accompaniment of a clarinet orchestra.
After the Seva, we got chance to see the Lord again. Again an wonderful experience.
We came back at around 7 PM. After the Darshana, we decided to go around the shopping complexes. My folks did some minor shopping. Majority of the stuff in almost all the shop is somehow related to the Lord! But there is other stuff too. At around 9 PM we returned back to our room after having dinner.
Lord Venkateshwaras Idols (Click to Zoom)
Next day, i.e., Monday, we started our trip back. We stopped for breakfast at Chittoor. We reached Bangalore at around 11 AM. Luckily, this time around, the traffic was much less. May be because, Monday was a holiday due to Deepavali. So, we didn’t get stuck in traffic. We reached Hassan at around 3 PM. We had our lunch at Hassan, and visited one of our relatives house. At around 5 PM, we started back to Mangalore. We reached Mangalore at around 9 PM.
Some interesting things that I noted about Tirupati:
1. One must book all the Seva’s, Rooms, etc well in advance. Its always crowded, and difficult to get a chance at the nth minute. You can get the List of Seva’s that you can offer at the temple’s website.
2. I was told that the surroundings of the temple used to be very dirty couple of years back. But when we went this time, the old timers were surprised. Everything seems to be well maintained now! Clean and Neat!
3. The free toilets in the Tirumala area are clean, and very well maintained.
4. Lot of security systems are in place, after an incident in which a Former Chief Minster was targeted in a bomb blast by Naxalites when he was on the way to Tirumala Hills.
5. Within the main temple complex, lot of security cameras have been installed to prevent corruption amongst temple workers! And we saw it working :)
6. The entire Tirumala Hills is a no smoking zone. No alcohol too! You are not allowed to take, nor will you get any cigarettes in the Tirumala town.
7. The temple uses finger printing technology to identify the people who would perform the various Seva’s!. This is mainly to prevent corruption/bribes etc.
8. Everything goes as per the schedule. Right on the dot.
9. Due to the security measures, you are not allowed to take any device like camera, mobiles etc inside the temple. I could not click any photos since I had to keep my camera back in the car.
*Garbagudi – Inner most area of the temple.