Om Vekatesaya Namo
Image Source: Google
Tirupati or Tirumala needs no introduction as it is the richest religious body of the planet and perhaps the place visited by most people. It is located in Chittoor District of Andhra Pradesh and draws nearly a lakh pilgrims a day. It is one of the 108 Divya Desams ( Holy Abode of Lord Vishnu) and one of the nerve centre of Hindu religious activities. Vishnu is knows as Lord Venkateswara or Tirupati and the temple complex is situated on a plateau above the Venkatadri Peak of Seshachalam Hill range of Eastern Ghats.
A visit to the Lord is desired by all devoted Hindus but the visit is not a cakewalk due to the astronomical no of people coming everyday and trying to enter the sanctum. It needs thorough knowledge of the temple complex as well as meticulous planning. For first timers the best option is to go through a package tour in which a guide takes care of many.It has also flip side which would come later in this post.
The bus starts from APTDC office near Race Cource at 9PM. They provide brand new multi axle Volvo AC buses which are really comfortable and looks glamorous.It makes another stop at Marathalli. It provides blankets in the bus, so no need to carry woolens/shawls etc. It reached Tirupati around 3 -3:30 AM and put in Srinivasa Grand Hotel for hardly 1 hour. The hotel is very mediocre but ok for 1 hour. They give 1 room for two persons. One needs to do the acts quickly by the deadline 4:30 AM as mentioned by the guide.Meanwhile change to traditional Indian attires as per temple rules.
They will take first to Padmavati Temple where one has to buy a Rs 25 ticket to get darshan. It will take around 30 mins of standing in queue. Then the tour bus will take you to PLR Kandy Hotel for breakfast.Cost of it is included in ticket so no need to pay anything. It is standard South Indian breakfast consisting Idly, Vada and Pongal along with tea/coffee.Then they took us the bus stand at the foothills. The Volvo will not go any further. Here they will make you board to one APSRTC bus which is ordinary which will take you to the Tirumala in the hills.
The 16 Km drive is beautiful through the green hills and enjoy this as the next few hours might be the worst few hours in life.The Bus drops the pilgrims at Ram Bagicha Bus stand and the guide will take the people who are interested for head tonsuring.Rest will go to Shop No 92 to deposit shoes and electronic items. They charge Rs 10 for each item.
Here one needs to wait for the ones who have gone for head tonsuring. This stage is quite irritating as there is no proper place to stand or seat in the scorching sun.Then the guide will make you walk barefooted upto the Speial Entry darshan ticket counter. It is damn torturous for your leg to walk on stones in this heat. At some places TTD arranged to sprinkle water to keep the stones cool.After collecting ticket guide will give it to you and take for ID proof checking. Here they will verify your ID(Aadhar, PAN, Passport, DL etc) and let you in.
Here the queue starts. Though it is special entry so many people take special entry that it becomes jam packed. The queue building is narrow and pathetically designed. People get there in hoardes like animals and jostle continuously for hours. It neither have proper ventilation, space or any emergency exit. Neither have any amenities for disabled, sick or aged pilgrims. The crowd is mostly unruly and abusive. In intense heat they will continuously push, rush and quarrel. It will take about 2 to 3 hours. Even if someone falls ill or any thing happens there is no facility to rescue him/her. Once you are in no way of coming out. Only one outcome, move with the crowd. After surviving few potential stampedes you will reach near the main entrance. The path is narrow and you will be manhandled by the security persons irrespective of gender or age. Ten another Gopuram will come , then the Main sanctum. There you will have glimpse of the Lord for couple of seconds before getting a mandatory rude push by the bouncers.
The exit is another gruesome process. The little bit of discipline what the entry have disappears hear and people run like mad cow to get rid of the pain. But the doorway is so narrow it is like 1000 people trying to pass through a door that can accommodate 100.
Then you will get out battered and shattered and find the stones so hot your feet will burn. It will make you feel burning alive and then you will reach the designated place advised by the guide. Here he will give you two laddoos per head which comes in the ticket cost. Then again you will have to collect your shoes and gadgets from shop 92. But to reach shop 92 you will have to walk through stairs , stone made pathways, cross a motorable road with your feet burning with excruciating pain. After collecting your shoes you will get a little respite and walk to bus stand.
Here the guide will call a APSRTC bus to take you down. After reaching down you will board the Volvo bus and it will take you to PLR Kandy Hotel for lunch.v. Here you will have a decent buffet lunch. Though it might not suite everyone as mostly it is South Indian thoroughfare. It is included in ticket cost. You do not need to pay.Now it is your time to relax. The bus will reach Bangalore around 8:30 PM to 9PM with stop at Tin Factory.