My friend K goes to Tirupati every year. This year, I joined him and his friend S. There are package tours arranged by many agents but the most trusted are – KSTDC, ITDC, APTDC. We went through ITDC. The pickup point is at their office in racecourse road. The bus left at 10:00 PM; stopped at 11:30 at Kolar for food; then at 3:00 AM at a guest house near Thirupati.
We were given two hours to freshen up. Please carry mosquito mats or coils, which these rooms need badly!
We left to Padmavathi temple at 5:00 AM. The first thing one can notice is the smell of ghee used to make ladoo’s. The goddess idol has a serene look like any idols in South Indian temples.
We stopped for breakfast and then switched bus. Only the local buses are allowed in Tirumala. Lord Balaji, the main deity resides on top of a hill, which can be reached by passing through seven mountains. Devotees prefer to walk all the way, which is a 13 km hike. The route is very scenic, but I was fast asleep as soon as the bus took off; here and there had few glances.
We reached the top at 8:00 AM. Few passengers had to offer their hair to main deity, which is a common practice here. After they arrived, we had to keep our cell phones and chappals at a shop outside the temple.
There are 3 classes in queue system. A free Darshan and Rs 50 Darshan and ours, which would join the Rs 50 queue through a shortcut.
We waited for Darshan from 9:30 to 11:15; which is much less as we were there on a week day. The temple architecture is very old and good. The entire interior shrine is covered with gold.
The queue when enters the main shrine ramps up so that we can see the face of the Balaji idol. The intention is to view the entire idol from head to feet as the queue ramps down. We were fortunate enough to go very close to the Garba Guddi.
I could totally feel the positive energy there. People chanted – “Govinda”. Women laughed out of happiness at the view of Lord; in the lamp light, Lords idol stood with a peaceful look on its face. In that one minute, I felt an unexplainable expression run through me.
After Darshan, we headed back to the bus, collected Prasad and drove back down the hill. The bust left Tirupati at 1:00 PM. We stopped for lunch at Chtioor at 2:00PM; returned back to Bangalore at 7:30 PM.
It was a nice experience and I wish to make this visit again. With some unexplainable reasons, I understand the reason for the crowd at temple, for one sight of Lord Balaji.
Thanks to my friends, this has been a week of spiritual journey.