Destination: Tirupati Balaji Temple,
The opulence of Lord Balaji,
the Preserver of the Universe, is reflected in his richly
ornamented life-size idol in the Tirumala Tirupati temple.
The sacred shrine is visited by millions of devotees
from far and wide and has been worshipped consistently
since the past thirteen years. The legendary temple
is situated in Chittoor district in southern Andhra
Pradesh. The temple is famous for being the most-visited
shrine in the world and the patron deity for being the
richest God in the world. The temple’s treasury
receives an overwhelming five hundred million rupees
in a year as offerings.
Lord Venkateshwara is also
renowned for his wish-fulfilling nature. His devotees
vouch for the benevolent God’s mercifulness and
vow to give him anything—even their hair!
Myth has it that long time ago, Tirumala was a hilltop
sanctum, then known as Sheshachalam. The place was idyllic.
Narada, the great sage, had impressed upon Lord Vishnu,
of the immense beauty of this place. Once, after a dispute
with Lakshmi, his wife, Lord Vishnu became so disturbed
that he thought of spending some time in complete solitude.
Thus, he went to Seshachalam and started meditating.
The Lord was covered by an anthill as time passed by.
A cowherd informed the king about this mysterious mound
who eventually unearthed the image of Lord Vishnu from
the mound. The king erected a beautiful shrine at the
hilltop location. It was this deity, which came to be
known as Tirupati Balaji
WHEN TO VISIT
Throughout the year
Special Event: The annual
Brahmotsavam festival, which is held during the Hindu
month of Bhadon (August/September), draws thousands
of devotees to the temple.
Tirumala can be reached either by vehicles or by climbing
up the hills on foot. Those preferring vehicles can
avail the buses plying between Tirupati and Tirumala
every 15 minutes.
One should purchase the
return journey tickets for Tirumala at Tirupati itself
to avoid standing in the ticket queue at Tirumala. The
tickets are valid for three days and entitle ticket
holders to board any bus at any time.
Those desirous of reaching
the hilltop by foot can walk up on either of the two
well-made stone footpaths. From Chandragiri, Tirumala
is 5 km, whereas from Alipiri, it is 11 km. Chandragiri
is the more difficult of the two and Alipiri is the
more commonly used. Usually pilgrims climb up the path
as a part of their vow.
Upon reaching the temple
complex, one has to go for buying the entrance tickets.
There is the provision for free darshan (audience) known
as Dharma Darshanam. This takes a lot of time. Then,
there is system of special darshan, for which tickets
worth Rs. 25 and higher can be bought. Higher the cost
of the ticket, lesser it takes time to stand in the
The next step is to stand
in the queues. For the all the pilgrims in waiting,
the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams (TTD) provides various
facilities in the Queue Halls. These include:
1.Availability of food
packets at subsidized rates
2.Availability of pure
milk, supplied by the Andhra Pradesh Dairy Development
and books by TTD publications can be bought by pilgrims
5.Clean toilets and bathrooms
6.Availability of television
sets with video
7.Cloakrooms near the
Vaikuntham Queue Complex
8.At the entrance to the
queue halls, enclosures have been constructed where
shoes can be kept free of cost.
Although most of the people
prefer to purchase the special entrance tickets, which
cut down the darshan time, yet everyone has to spend
not less that four to six hours to get near to the idol.
(It would be double the time during festivals, and other
auspicious and important occasions.)
1.Sarvadarsanam is open
from 0730 hours. About 18 hours are allotted for Sarvadarsanam
on ordinary days, and for the peak days, the period
is extended to 20 hours. The Vaikuntham Queue Complex
is the entrance point for Sarvadarsanam. The number
of visitors each day amounts to 50,000.
2.Special Darshan gives
the pilgrims the advantage of having the darshan faster
than in the Sarvadarsanam queue. There are two categories
of special darshan: the Rs. 40 coupon and the Rs. 50
coupon. People paying Rs. 40 are given one free laddu
apart from darshan and the pilgrims who pay Rs. 50,
are given two laddus after the darshan. The queue for
special darshan is separate. Their entry takes place
through the PPC (queue complex).
3.Sudarsanam token is
novel concept introduced by TTD. The objective is to
allow the pilgrims with a prompt darshan. There are
the provisions for both free and paid darshan. The free
tokens bear the time of darshan and the pilgrims are
accordingly allowed for the darshan upon entering the
queue complex. In this system, the devotees can have
the darshan in about two hours. The free tokens have
to be collected from the first choultry (opposite railway
station), second choultry (behind railway station),
Alipiri Bus Stand, Vaikuntham Queue Complex, Pilgrim
Amenities Centre (near Central Reception Office), and
near Rambagicha Guesthouse at Tirumala.
It is mandatory to keep
the tokens tied to the wrist until the darshan is over.
The dalaris or touts are not to be trusted for any kind
The darshan takes place
as one moves ahead in the queue, to right in front of
the deity. Each devotee gets only a few seconds for
Prasadams are to be obtained
from bank counters erected in the queue line for laddus.
The prasadams are distributed free of cost by the Tirumala
Tirupati Devasthanams. The anna prasadams (pulihora),
chitrannam, sweet pongal and curd rice are given free
to all pilgrims coming out after darshan. Pilgrims can
also buy laddus at the Prasadapatteda counter outside
The beautiful temples
of Sri Govindarajaswami, Kapilatirtham (at Tirupati)
and Sri Padmavathi Ammavari (at Tiruchanur) are worth
visiting. Sri Kalyana Venkateswara Swami Temple at Srinivasa
Mangapuram is another attraction for the Tirupati pilgrims.
The annual festival is
the Brahmotsavam. It is celebrated for twelve days when
the sun enters Kanya Rashi from Aswayuja Shuddha Padyami
to Aswayuja Shuddha Dasami, during September/October.
The festival is named after Lord Brahma, who celebrated
it for the first time. The festival program includes
the taking of the Utsavamurtis around the temple on
different vahanams. This is being done every morning
and evening. The Garudotsavam on the fifth day and the
Rathotsavam on the eighth day are the special features
of the festival.
The Tirumala Tirupati
Devasthanams provides the incoming pilgrims with free
accommodation at large unfurnished rest houses. To avail
this, one may contact the Central Reception Office near
the bus stand. Sheds and dormitory halls are also available
where pilgrims can take rest. Those desiring more comfortable
lodging can go for the paid accommodation at the Central
The Sri Govindaraja Dharamshala
and Sri Kodanda Rama Dharamshala offer free accommodation
in Tirupati. To get boarding in these, the pilgrims
have to contact the superintendent, Central Reception
The town has some quality
hotels like Bhimas Deluxe Hotel, Guestline Days, Hotel
Bliss, Hotel Bhimas Paradise and Hotel Mayura.
HOW TO REACHBy
The nearest airport is
at Reni Gunta, 15 km from Tirupati. Indian Airlines
operates daily flights from Hyderabad, Vijayawada, Chennai
The famed pilgrim town
is well connected to Hyderabad, Mumbai, Chennai and
Bangalore. Railway tickets for Tirumala can be bought
from any station in India. Important trains are Rayalseema
Express; Narayanatri Express, Venkatadri Express and
Krishna Express from Hyderabad; Chennai Express; Dadar
Express and Grand Trunk (GT) Express from Mumbai; Saptgiri
from Chennai and Mysore Express from Bangalore.
Tirupati is linked to
all the major towns and cities of South India by road.
Chennai is 150 km; Bangalore, 250 km; and Hyderabad,
725 km from Tirupati. Tourist buses ply regularly between
the cities. State-run buses from Andhra Pradesh and
Karnataka are also available.