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July 2018 – Bangalore to Tirumala Tirupathi

It was almost eight years since I last visited Tirupathi. I was fortunate to get a chance to witness the Kalyanotsavam at Tirumala which I never seen before. Thanks to our family friend who oversaw our bookings three months in advance.

My parents arrived at my residence a night before and we set to Tirupathi from Bengaluru next day at 9 am. My father drove his S-Cross and I made myself comfortable at the back seat with my wife and daughter.

The Kolar Mulbagal route has been my favourite ever since it was a single road.  The breath taking views of the Rocky Mountains, beautiful sceneries and the plantations had always captivated me. Mr Senior Naidu decided to drive in this route giving me a chance to enjoy the nature at its best.

Lunch at Hotel Bhima’s Tirupathi

We reached Tirupathi by lunchtime and decided to have our lunch in one of the popular restaurants. I do not know who suggested Hotel Bhima’s but we decided to try it. We enquired an auto rickshaw driver for the address but he suggested against it. We ignored his advice and followed Google map to reach Bhima’s Hotel. After dining, we realised the auto driver was right.

Temples Visits at Tirupathi

We planned to visit two temples in Tirupathi before heading to Tirumala. The belief is one should visit the “Sri Kalyanavenkataswamy Temple” at Srinivasamangapuram in Chittoor district and the “Sri Padmavathi Temple” at Thiruchanur, about five kms from Tirupathi before showing up in front the Lord Balaji for blessings in Tirumala. When we visited Tirumala in the earlier days, we never knew about this and directly went to the main temple complex.

Since we were going to these two temples for the first time, we switched on the GPS and Google Map to find our way. The Google Map is loaded with so much data, we have to be precise while typing the name and address for the route guidance’s. A small mistake may cost precious time and money if we end up in an un-intended place.

Sri Kalyanavenkataswamy Temple

Sri Kalyanavenkataswamy Temple
Sri Kalyanavenkataswamy Temple

We reached Sri Kalyanavenkataswamy Temple at Srinivasamangapuram with little efforts, thanks to the GPS and the Google map. The temple was not crowded and we completed our rituals without waiting in line. The security did not allow phones and cameras inside the temple. I had to handover the camera battery to him before entering the sanctum and took it back after coming out. However, there were no photography restrictions outside the temple. There were several of them taking selfies inside the temple complex.

Sri Padmavathi Temple

Driving to Sri Padmavathi Temple was also effortless. The temple was crowded with devotees and livelier with shops and hawkers. We had a glimpse of the goddess in time and spent little more than half an hour in the temple complex shopping. I did not carry my Smart phone nor the Sony Alpha camera as I knew the temple staffs would not all it inside.

Temple Shopping – Padmavathi Temple

The vicinity was a perfect place for “Temple Shopping” and I made a purchase of two skewers with wooden handle at Rs. 30/- each. I saw Rudraksh not separated from the stem and there were many of them in a single stem. The hawker quoted Rs. 30/- for each Rudraksh I did not buy it however.

Our planned temple visits were over and was now time to rest in the room that we booked online.

Missed rooms at Srinivasam Pilgrim Complex

The rooms are dead cheap in Srinivasam Pilgrim Complex, the prices starts from Rs. 200. The TTD maintains the complex and I was curious to see how the rooms were.

Our turn came after a good 30 minutes wait. My dad showed the booking slip to the staff on the other side of the counter who rejected it instantly.

One of the friends booked the rooms at Srinivasam complex for us. The check-in time printed on the slip was 06.00 hours and we were here at 07.00 pm. The staff told us we should have checked-in at least by 11 am. Since we did not, they allotted the rooms to other devotees. Well the mistake was ours, we read the timings incorrectly.

It is not possible to get the rooms in Srinivasam Pilgrim Complex without prior bookings. We had to come out disappointed.

Oyo Flagship 061 – Tirupathi Railway Station

The plan was to find a decent room for the night and checkout in the morning before ascending to Tirumala. I decided to try the OYO App for the first time and booked two rooms at OYO Flagship 061 near the railway station. I had had a bad experience in this flagship hotel, search for the review in this blog.

Drive to Tirumala

Gate to Tirumala
Gate to Tirumala

I do not get to drive when I travel with my parents. My dad still loves to drive and the advantage for me is I need not strain myself or spend on fuel. However, there is no toll free number for rash driving.

There is rigorous checking at the foot of Tirumala hill. We all had to get down except the driver who has to move the vehicle. I pulled out the baggage from the boot and rolled into the scanner. The security bent inside the car to scan for any weapons, narcotics or anything that he feels is dangerous to carry.

It is always fun driving on the hill and the Tirumala hill is no exception. It has a well-maintained road and a beautiful forest that captivates everybody. Adding to it was the frequent visit of languor’s the children enjoyed seeing it.

There was no rash driving on the road up. My dad who is too friendly with the accelerator had to pamper it less. Thanks to the restrictions on the speed limits that they strictly monitored. The toll tickets contained the in-time and the minimum reach time to the hilltop. We had to reach the summit of Tirumala not less than 9.15 am.

Reaching Supadham

With the GPS and Google Maps on, we followed the blue arrow and sometimes the blue dot on the map. A certain point, the Google Map changed its mind and showed different direction stating the best possible route. We took couple of turns and came to the point where we started. I was holding the phone and became a victim later.

I pleaded guilty to the driver and requested him not to rely on my phone or me and instead ask somebody for the direction. We had to reach Supadham entrance as soon as possible to avoid one more confusion unlike last night.

A TTD staff came to our rescue. He sneaked into the back seat, next to me, took us to the destination, and guided us how to park and get into the Kalyanotsavam.

The waiting period to get into the Kalyanotsavam venue was not as anticipated. We reached in earlier than expected.

Witnessing the Kalyanotsavam

More than 4000 devotees sat on the floor facing the stage to witness the grand Kalyanotsavam. Few devotees were fortunate enough to get a bench type place where they could hang their legs down. We were one of them but the only disadvantage was that we had to turn right to see the event. It pains when we sit in a same posture for extended time. However, the pain is like a minuet particle that I dusted off to witness the grand marriage of the Lord Govinda. Not every devotees gets this opportunity.

Lord Venkateshwara Darshanam

After Kalyanotsavam, we could directly enter the main temple without waiting. Devotees pushing each other from every direction are common and unavoidable. It is a kind of adventure right from nearing the Sanctum Sanctorum until the exit gate of the main temple. I spent good 30 or more seconds observing the magnificent image of Lord Balaji into me chanting Govinda, Govinda…

We managed to trace our car and wanted to change our costumes to the normal ones. The ladies managed to get a free room to change but the gents had to change near the car (in open).

Driving back to Bengaluru

Driving down the Tirumala hill is also a wonderful experience. In fact, descending is a different route with amazing sceneries and the beautiful view of Thirupathi city.

There is a deer park at the foot of the hill and we stopped here for some photographs. The shops were selling cucumbers, my daughter happily bought some and fed those beautiful creatures.

Photographs from Deer Park

Feeding Deer Tirumala
Feeding Deer Tirumala

The animal was so cute and one of them came and stood in front of me while I was taking photographs of them. This was the last excitement of our tour.

We took the Kolar route to reach Bengaluru. Since the roads were under construction and due to the rain, the travel was little tiring. We reached Bengaluru by 11 pm.

Further reading – Tirupati

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