Saturday, July 25, 2009

Govinda Govinda!!!!!!!!!

I had this wish for Long. To take Advika to Thirumala : The abode of Lord Venkatakesha. & So we set out on the journey on a Thursday evening 16th of July 2009.

Me and Deepak have been planning for this for Long! First we thought let us try by the APSRTCor KSRTC Bus service & then we said, with the kids it will be difficult to follow a strict routine. Besides it was proving to be around 1500 per head from Bangalore. So for the advantage of flexibility we decided to drive. So whatever the case may be, even if we get a ticket, even if we get a reservation at Tirumala were were going to go there and figure out.Luckily everything fell in place and we got accommodation at Ram Bageecha & Darshan ticket for the morning.


275 km from Bangalore and so we thought even if we drive at 50 kph we should be in tirumala by 11. Deepak & family in his Verna and me & family in my little Santro.

The Route : Bangalore -> Hosakote -> Kolar -> Mulbagal -> Palamaner -> Chittor(use bye pass) -> Chandragiri -> Tirupati -> Tirumala (275 Km in total).

We started from Bangalore around 5:30pm. There was road work from Hoskote until Karnataka Border. So most of the places single side of a two lane traffic had been opened up. There are a lot of diversions when you move from the left of the road to the right and back again to the left. Hence driving was not that smooth. Add to the fact that it was night traffic. Everyone in on the Road wants to drive with High Beam :). From Chitoor we took the bye pass road. It was around 9:30pm, when we had the first break. Advika had her Dinner and she was ready for more :) trip. Deepak fed his daughters. The person who had booked rooms called Deepak and we were desperate to reach Tirupathi (base) soon. In the overall stretch, the bye pass was not a great ride, with a lot of pot holes. Advantage was that we avoided Chitoor city. We joined back NH 18. Till Puthalapattu, the roads are narrow, one will not be be able to overtake any slow moving vehichle in front. From then on it was broad roads until Tirupathi. At Chandradigir we took right and stayed on the outer ring around Tirupathi. During this stretch you will notice Tirupathi town on the left and the uphill track on the mountain. And the symbol of Venkatachalapathy on top of the mountain. It is really amazing to notice, flat land and then on the left hand side a plateau coming up. (I realized it the next day when wer came down) . By 10:30pm were were in Tirupathi. It took us some time to locate the apartment of the person who booked the Rooms for us in Tirumala. An auto guy helped us. This person was staying next to a Cinema Theater :). The place reminds me of my home in Kannur. Right next to Krishna Theater (The Theater is no more now). While I was growing up and studying in the night, I could hear movie dialogues of Old Tamil Movies. Rajanikanth, Kamalahasan, you name it. Flash Back Over, Back to Tirumala : Finally we collected the tickets and Keys from him. So the next question, Finding a way to go up to Tirumala. Again an auto driver to the rescue. We found our way to the Bus stand and from there the sign boards were clear. And again at At Alipiri Gate we were asked to go for a secutiry check. We followed the directions and suddenly at one junction there was no indication!!!!! We asked someone (finding someone in the middle of the night was difficult). Auto guys came to the help again. So after the security check of the vehichle we started the uphill climb at Alipiri Gate. The time was around 11:15pm when we started the climb. On the way I saw indications saying max 45 minutes to uphill. I searched for a radio channel and got hooked up to a Telugu one. They were playing nice old Melody songs, most of them remakes of Old Tamil movies.

And so it was 12 pm when we finished the ascend and reached Tirumala. It took us some time to locate Ram Bageecha. Later we realized that this place was right next to the the temple. Though a little far away from the Que Complex (vaikuntam Que Complex). On top of the mountain, it was windy. We parked our vehichles near the complex and walked to our Rooms. Ram Bageecha 2. I was damn tired. My Mother in law gave me some chapathis to eat. Advika has started to become naughty, so she started calling "Acha.. Acha".... (Dad .... Dad in Malayalam) ... took a blanket put on the floor and was ready to sleep. My wife took care of Advika. Our Darshan was to be between 630am to 8am next day. So it meant we had to get up at 430 am in the morning, get the tickets from a counter, get ready, get our kids ready and go for the Darshan. Nothing seemed to be in my mind other than the fact that I was there at the abode of the lord, and I needed to get darshan in the morning. Time was 1 am.. Good Night.

Deepak buzzed me on my Phone around 4am. I slept a little bit longer while my family was getting ready. At 430 am I got up and got ready. Deepak came up to my Room and said the counter would open only around 530am. I realized that he did not sleep during the night. I looked at him with startled eyes :). He blinked.... By now he had already taken a round of the place, figured out where we are and also visited the place where we needed to take the ticket from. So his job was over. We decided to walk to the counter. This was on the other side of Vaikuntam Que Complex. It was about 1 1/2 km away. On reaching there we realized that the counter would open only around 630 am.. Bad timing.. Why? We had to check by around 830am. Sai had told me that before I visit the lord I should visit Varahaswamy Temple before proceeding to the Main Temple.

Sri Varahaswami temple is located on the banks of Swami Pushakarni towards the northern side of Sri Venkateshwara temple. According to legend, Tirumala was originally the abode of Lord Varahaswami and it was with his permission that allowed Lord Balaji to reside here. The Brahma Purana states the importance of having darshan's at the Varahaswami temple before proceeding to the Balaji temple. The same information was written in Ram Bageecha. It was crowded at Varahaswamy temple and hence it took us 1 hour to complete the Darshan. Once we were done, Deepak headed towards the ticket counter and we rushed to vacate the rooms. BTW: Rooms are pretty cheap at Thirumala, it is maintained by TTD (Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams). I noticed that most of them are donated by devotees from different parts of the World (yes! not just from India).

We vacated the place and proceeded towards Vaikuntam Que Complex. Our Darshan was arranged around 10 am. We reached the Temple complex around 11:00 am. I carried Advika in my arms and when we were near the main entrance, I started carrying her on my shoulders (to give her maximum view). Interstingly she was chanting the name of the lord.. Rama Rama Rama, something that we had taught her at home during our evening prayers. There are people from TTD who are there to made sure that the queue does not build up. I prayed at the main entrance and so did Advika :)... Govinda... Govinda...

We came out and saw chambers where workers of the Temple were counting currencies given as offerings to the lord. I believe the Temple is the richest Temple in the World. Visited by around 100000 people every day. We offered donations to the lord in the Offering pot. The temple it is an artistic marvel. You could also ready inscriptions in Tamil. Most of the areas covered in Gold.

There is also a small door (Gold Coated) at the entrance which has symbolysm of lord resting on Shesha atVaikuntam. That Door I believe is only opened during Vaikunta Ekadashi.

I found a site that details about the history (mythology) of the lord http://www.balajikenya.com/history.html .

By 11 our Darshan was over and we collected the offering from the lord (Ladu). We had breakfast at a nearby stand in counter and by the time we left Tirumala it was around 1 pm. We had lunch from Hotel Bhimas Paradise at Thirupathi. Next stop, Tiruchanur at the Goddess Padmavathi Temple. Agiain! We found some difficulty in finding the directions. It is believed that once you visit Tirupathi you should visit this temple as well. At the main entrance is the idol of Lord Krishan & to the right is Goddess Padmavathi's place. By the time we were done it was around 4. We thought it might be good to reach Bangalore before sunset. But that was not going to be. We stopped at Bangarapalli to buy some Mangoes. We soon realized that it was a Wholesale place and not a retail one. Rachana was sleeping all the way.

While driving to Bangalore we had noticed 2 accidents where the Road works were done. We did not take risk. But we could help it either. It was dark by the time we reached Mulabagal.While returning driving was Ok. The Traffic was Good (Descent I should say). May be by now we had got used to the road. We arrived in Bangalore around 9 pm. Had dinner from a Restaurant Nearby and reached our apartment by around 10:30pm.

EPIC IMPORTANCE of Tirumala

The venkatam hill is believed to be a part of the celestial mount meru brought to the earth from vaikuntam by garuda (Lord's vehicle),say the puranas.The Hills are said to be a manifestation of Adi Sesha (the cosmic serpent).The Seven hills of the Tirumala are the said to represent the Seven hoods of Adi Sesha.

Many Alvars , Vaishnavacharyas and Saints have praised the Tirumala Hill with great devotion.Tirumala Mambi, a descendent of the great ascetic Narada, spent his whole life in serving the Lord.

References to the tirumala also found in several of Puranas. Tirumala is one of the 108 sacred shrines of the Sri Vaishanava tradition.According to the Puranas, Lord Vishnu stayed on the earth for some time in the Avatar of Swetha Varaham and rose out of pushkarini asSwayambhuva. His spouse Lakshmi Devi appeared in Thirucharnur. This Swwtha VarahaAvatharam was installed in the temple situated to the west of Swamy Pushkarni. The great religious leader Ramanujacharya visited this shrine on a pilgrimage and systematised the process of worship in accordance with the SriVaishnava that continues to date.

Many devotees also have their head tonsured as an offer. The daily amount of hair collected is over a ton. The hair thus gathered is auctioned in public to international buyers for use as hair extensions and in cosmetics. As per puranas hair given by devotees is to cover up the lost hair(it is a very small portion) of lord venkateshwara swamy. Me , Deepak and Advika offered our hair to the Lord.

Watch out for people who will ask for money at Tirumala. My advice to them is there is no short cut to reach God. Avoid them as much as possible.

We did want to visit Srikalahasthi http://srikalahasti.org/ &

Kanipakam Vinayaka Temple http://www.kanipakam.com/

But due to lack of time we had to skip. Deepak had some work on Saturday and he did not want to ride very late in the night. And I always believe we are only instruments of God, we can wish but he has to give us permission to visit. All we can do is do our karma and wait for the Results. I plan a visit some time soon. Now that I know how to get tickets etc, I hope & pray the next visit is seamless.

Courtesy : http://www.etirupati.com

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tirumala_Venkateswara_Temple

& a host of other sites on the net.

2 comments:

Mridhool said...

Superb explanation!! Lot of take aways from ur blog.. Keep writing :)

grand said...

Thanks.Tirupati trip is amazing. It is very peaceful and wonderful place. Every time i will plan my accommodation in one of the best tirupati Hotels is Grand World