Tirupati Travel Guide– A travel guide to the abode of Lord Venkateswara. One of the richest and holiest Dham in the world. One of my favorite pilgrim destinations in India, this hill town is known for its devotional and cultural heritage. As we all know, yearly, millions of devotees visit this holy Dham from across the world.
A common confusion among pilgrims is Tirupathi and Tirumala are the same. Tirupathi is a town in Andhra Pradesh’s Chittoor district. Whereas Tirumala is the seven hills situated in Tirupathi. Tiru means Shree and Mala mean hill, it’s a Tamil word.
Journey to Abode of Lord Venkateswara
A few years back before the pandemic, I went on a pilgrimage trip to Tirumala along with my family. After crossing Tirupathi town which is crowded most of the time, we came to the entrance of Seven hills.
The majestic white color statue of Garuda (Vehicle of Lord Vishnu)welcomes the pilgrims with folded hands. Here, at the Alipiri check post, all the vehicles have to go through checking, like any other place in India.
Tirupati to Tirumala Trip
Here you need to buy a ghat road travel ticket which is quite affordable. The main intention of issuing tickets is to monitor the time a vehicle takes to reach Tirumala. However, each vehicle has to take at least 45 minutes to 1 hour to reach the exit point to avoid accidents on Ghats.
At the entry point, they register the vehicle name along with the time they are entering. The same will be checked at the exit point before allowing the vehicle into Tirumala.
Travel time from Banglore to Tirumala approximately around 5 hours by car. There are no direct bus services to Tirumala. You need to take the bus to Tirupathi, catch another bus from Tirupathi, or hire taxi jeeps to Tirumala.
There are numerous taxi services available to Tirumala from Tirupathi town. From Chennai, it takes around 3 hours by car, whereas by bus around 3hours 30 minutes. If you are coming by road to Tirupati from Chennai, please check out these temples to visit from Chennai to Tirupati.
Stay and Darshan ticket at Tirumala
Getting a rest/guest house and Darshan ticket on time used to be very difficult a few years back. However, TTD, the governing board made it easy for pilgrims by making ticket booking online. I personally advise those who are planning to visit the abode of Lord Venkateswara to make sure you book tickets prior.
Another advantage is that they can select the Seva which they want to perform for the god. If there are no slots available, then you can visit the nearby TTD temple board in your area and book through them. You can even make online donations as well.
The guest house we stayed at during our visit was very comfortable and had a beautiful view from the balcony. The roads were so clean you can even walk without footwear.
If you are looking for some luxury stay, you can opt for Balaji Guest home, Aditya Birla Nilayam, Lakshmi VPR guest home, Tirumala Sainik Niwas. These guest houses’ price range starts from 2500 – 3000 rupees.
TTD made things easy for devotees. Open the TTD office site, select pilgrim services in that select rest houses. You will find the price range for different rest houses. Then, go for advance booking and book your selected rooms.
Climbing seven hills on foot and free Darshana
Many people pray to God that, if their wish comes true they climb seven hills on foot and have his Darshan. For this, there is a separate route where you need to climb approximately 3500 steps. Initially, the climb will be quite painful, but as you progress in your journey you find small roads for around 1km followed by broader steps to climb.
The best thing is that the steps are covered with sheets, so the pilgrims won’t feel the heat, unlike other temples in India. Besides this, here you find numerous snack shops where you can stop and have water and a light snack and resume your journey.
Free darshan ticket will be given to all the devotees who come to Tirumala through climbing steps. After finishing the tedious step climbing, pilgrims go to their reserved guest house and freshen up before they go for free darshan.
Another difficult task is here you need to stand in the queue for long hours. But the TTD members constantly supply water and food to devotees in the queue line for free. After the long tiring journey and you finally make it to the Lord’s abode (Temple sanctum), makes it feels worth going through the struggle.
The positive vibes and devotee shouting “Govinda Govinda” along with reverberating mantra chanting “Om Namo Venkateshaya”, bring goosebumps to devotees and for some tears with overwhelming devotion.
Dos and Don’ts at Tirumala
- Don’t carry any Non-veg or any kind of masala with you while traveling to the abode of Lord Venkateswara.
- Alcohol consumption or any other malpractices on hills are strictly prohibited.
- Flammable items, weapons, and fireworks are not allowed inside Tirumala
- Any kind of tobacco product is not allowed here.
- While going to Darshan devotees should wear only traditional dresses, applicable to both men and women.
- PDA on the hills is strictly prohibited.
Legend of Lord Venkateswara
The story is known to all but holds the power and love of Lord Vishnu. Once Maharishis were doing one Mahayajnam at the Naimishrayana. When the rishis were in dilemma as to whom they should give the Yajna Phalam among the trinity?
Narada Maharishi who happens to visit the place suggests Bhrigu Maharishi to find out which diety is the right recipient of the Yajna Phalam.
All the other maharishis who were present at the site accept this. Firstly, Bhrigu Maharishi visits Brahma Loka where the Lord of creation was immersed in the music played by Saraswathi Devi and was not aware of Bhrigu’s arrival.
This angered the Maharishi and he happens to Curse Lord Brahma that nobody on earth will pray for him. Then he visits Kalish where Lord Shiva and Parvathi Devi were enjoying their conjugal dance.
They didn’t notice the arrival of the Maharishi. As a result, this angered maharishi and he cursed Lord Shiva that people will worship him in Shiva Linga rupa on earth.
Later he goes to Vaikuntam, the abode of Lord Vishnu where Lord Vishnu spends his time with Lakshmi Devi lying on Adi shesha. Even Lord Vishnu didn’t notice Bhrigu Maharishi’s arrival. The enraged Maharishi in a fit of rage kicks on Lord Vishnu’s chest, a residence of Maa Lakshmi.
Lord Vishnu who understands the ignorance of Maharishis pacified him by asking him for forgiveness. As Lord touched Maharishi’s foot, the ignorance of the rishi was gone. Maharishi felt ashamed for his heinous act and asks for forgiveness.
The incarnation of Lord Venkateswara
But Lakshmi Devi who witnessed all these, boils with rage and leaves Vaikuntam and reaches Earth. Lord Vishnu who couldn’t stay away from Devi comes to earth in search of Lakshmi Devi.
He incarnates as Venkateswara swami and marries Padmavathi Devi. Lord stayed on Tirumala hills along with Padmavathi Devi and Lakshmi Devi to bless and protect his devotees.
Can you believe this rock arch formation has been existent for around 2500 million years? There are only three places you can find this type of arch formation. Some believe the height of the arch is the same as the height of the main idol in the temple.
I had fun here by clicking few photos with family. Luckily there were only a few pilgrims when we visited. Had a good time strolling in the rock garden. Also, went down the steps, to the cave temple.
Though there is not much to see, one can enjoy the forest and nature, it is better not to visit in the afternoon. The evening and morning are the best times to relax in the Rock Graden.
Another must-visit place in Tirumala, Srivari Padalu is the place where Lord Venkateswara first kept his foot. The hilltop provides a panoramic view of the entire seven hills.
I never got a chance to enjoy the panoramic view of the hill at peace as it is always packed with pilgrims. Previously, the Padalu(Foot)of god used to be open now it is kept in a glass box so that no one will touch it.
Besides this, there are many other places to visit in the abode of Lord Venkateswara. If time permits visit Aksha Ganga. Tirumala is famous for its beauty and you find numerous parks to relax, and spend quality time in peace.
If you are a wildlife lover, visit Sri Venkateswara Wild sanctuary. Like to know about kings of this place and temple history then have a look at the museum. Also, don’t forget to visit Tiruchanur Temple of Alamelumanga, another name of Padmavathi Devi.
My experience at Tirumala
I never forget the evening walk in the semi-crowded street where you will be blessed with a pleasant cool breeze. The chanting of “Om Namo Venkateshaya” mantra reverberates the entire Tirumala.
This place makes me realize I’m a sensitive and very devotional person. Whenever I enter the main temple sanctum I always cry with overwhelmed devotion. The main idol captives the onlookers with its divine presence.
In between devotees shouting ‘Govinda’ with ecstasy and the powerful “Om Namo Venkatesya,” mantra sound always makes me experience a devotion that I never experienced.
- Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams (Official Website)
- Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams (Official Website)
- Silathoranam Tirupati, Timings, Entry Fee & History – Tirupati Tourism 2021
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