My husband and I visited Tirupathi last weekend. When I told to one of my colleagues that I am going to Tirupathi over the weekend, he said, ‘I did not expect that you would go there.’
I asked him, ‘Why?’
He replied, ‘I do not feel that you are that kind of person’
I laughed and said, ‘Last year, my husband prayed that I if get a good wife, I will visit you along with her next time. So we had to be there this year, before we completed our first year of marriage.’
This is the story behind my visit to Tirupathi.
We took an APSRTC bus from Bangalore to Tirupathi. We started at 4.30 in the evening. The bus unfortunately had a ‘Coolant Tract Infection’ so it peed coolant all along the way and it delayed our journey by four hours. We reached Tirupathi at 2:30 AM in the morning. We stayed at SVU University Guest House, booked by my father-in-law through his contacts at SVU University.After I reached the guesthouse, I just hit the bed and dozed off.
The next day myself, my husband, my father-in-law and my mother-in-law started to Tirumala in an Innova. I was amazed by the security and the road safety measures taken at Tirumala. Before we reached the top of the hill our driver stopped at one location alongside the road.
We asked him, ‘Why did you stop?’
He replied, ‘There is a time limit to reach top of the hill. The minimum time should be 28 minutes. If it is less than 28 minutes then they fine.’
I thought, ‘Wow.’
I was also impressed by the windmills on top of hill and the solar panels on one of the temple buildings.
After we reached the top of the hill, we waited at the police station for about 1.5 hours to get the required permissions to skip the line and to make our waiting time shorter. This is my first visit to the police station and that too for a good reason, of course.
After we got the permission, we went through closed doors which were opened up by the power of money and entered the line a few yards away from the sanctum sanctorum of Lord Balaji. The temple was crowded. I saw a lot of shaved heads, crying children in the line, and people stood in the line with almost no space in between one person and another. The line moved on an automatic pushing system, you just need to stand in the line and the people behind you push you. There is almost no effort required from your side to move.
When we entered the sanctum sanctorum, I almost thought that there will be a stampede. I can understand the religious fervour of the people to see Lord Balaji but I did not expect it to be so intense. The sanctum was decorated in gold; there was gold colored plating all around and huge chandeliers hung from the ceiling. This view almost reminded me of the grandeur of Palace of Holyrood House in Edinburgh, which is Queen Elizabeth’s official residence.
The volunteers in the sanctum looked like regular people. They were dressed in yellow colored sarees, with a red colored kerchief draped around the necks. Contrary to my opinions about their docility, they must have been trained in arm wrestling. As soon as we came in front of the God, they caught me by my arm and literally hurled me away from God. I was amazed at their strength. I did not get to see the idol more than one second; my brain just registered the presence of an idol inside the sanctum.
On the way back to the guest house, we had lunch and we went to the Rock Garden and Srivari Padalu.
View of Venkateshwara Swamy Temple from Srivari Padalu
One of the many religious offerings that people tie to trees and pray for their wishes to be fulfilled. I found this pretty thing tied to one of the trees at Srivari Padalu.
On the way back to the guest house from Srivari Padalu. We saw a small size commotion. A few people were standing in front of a tree and clicked pictures of something with their cell phones and cameras. When we came close to the tree, we saw this rock star squirrel enjoying the attention of the people. It came down the trees took the food items that people were offering to it and went back up.
After a long siesta at the guest house, in the evening we went to the Govindarajaswami temple. Since we went at the closing time, it was crowded. I saw the idol for 3 seconds here.
The next day we went to the Kalyana Venkateshwara Swamy temple at Narayanavanam. Here we sat for the Kalyanam for about 2 hours there.
In the evening we returned to Bangalore in bus. It was a KSRTC bus. Other than the torture of having to watch an old kannada movie, the journey was pretty much comfortable.
The entrance to Govindarajasami temple was lined with shops on either side
Photographs by Pradeep Kumar Gouda