Truly its been long since I have had a pilgrimage tour ....and over the last weekend I had this heavenly tour to the Tirumala hills. I must have visited this temple when I was in my 4th or the 5th std. and all that I could remember is me with my family standing in some never ending queue getting all tanned in the hot sun. I used to be frightened to visit this temple coz I concluded that whoever visits this temple comes out bald :D
Luck favoured me on June 6th, because I had been planning since November to revisit this holy place and boy-o-boy I'd have never felt so much at peace and a feel-so-good factor after visiting Tirupathi the second time :)
We had booked with some travels here and reached over there early in the morning and stood in queue for the darshan tickets.You see its not like standing in queues for getting a ticket to see a movie,coz the ticket classifications over here was different."Paisa de ...darshan dekh" was the funda....i.e Different queues for different amounts finally leading to see one God.The tickets priced for 200/-,50/- were all sold out(I dunno if there was a higher amount)we stood patiently at the "free darshan ticket" queue.To our surprise we got over it within an hour(probably the weekday visit helped us alot).And then we freshened up at a hotel wherein every family was given approx 1hour to finish bathing/freshening up. After that alotted one hour I jus looked over at my co-travellers and I could bet that none of them except for my family had taken bath...shame shame!! Some were even wearing the same outfits they had worn when they got in from Bangalore....shee!
It was almost 8AM,and all of us were damn hungry so our guide whose name was some Ramalingam Reddy (I think ) took us on a loong drive to some hotel wherein breakfast was served.Breakfast was damn good.....good because atleast I was hungry and I don even remember what the menu items they served :) We finished breakfast within half n hour and were waiting patiently for the other co-passengers to finish too.Many of them had their 4-5yr old naughty kids along , hence drilling food into their tiny mouths took some time :( [One disadvantage of travelling in a group- "wait till the last man is done"].Finally after an hour or so all of us got back to our bus which took us on top of the hill. I guess the journey from the foot to the temple top must have been quite scenic but I had already slept once I got in the bus .
Once we reached the temple top,our guide, whom our many north indian co-passengers had by then renamed him as Raju guide :) (since they found Ramalingam Reddy difficult to remember!) showed us the queue which starts to the temple and gave us some directions and informations regarding what has to be done after we'd return back from the temple.As we stood in the queue,some of the street hawkers tried their best to test our patience to buy their goodies, as they advertised their local cold drinks and food stuffs to eat. Finally when the queue started to move,it looked like we were testing each other's physical strength ,as we too joined in pushing and squeezing ourselves in the crowded queue :) For about 10-15mins the pushing and pulling game continued and finally things looked better when a single line queue began to form :) . As we all walked and ran in the single line queue towards our destination it reminded me of my schooldays where our PT teachers would have asked us to form a single line and get into classes.Amidst all this chaos, I also so many other 200/- ,50/- ,100/- etc queues. I stood and wondered would God classify the wishes of all of us...Would he too grant the wishes depending on the queues we came in from or depending on first-cum-first-served basis :)
Finally our patience and wait for 2hrs became fruitful when we too got the chance of having a glimpse of the heavenly Lord Balaji. The temple inside covered in gold looked very beautiful and the care taken on even the minutest details on the sculptures was commendable. The glimpse for just 4-5sec of the Lord gave in a satisfied feeling to all the devotees who would have thronged for hours together in the long queues.
We finished with our darshan and surprisingly, to come out from the temple amidst the crowd took another hour! Overall things went on fine. Our co-passengers travelled back to Bangalore as we stayed overnight at Tirupati since we planned to make a visit at SriKalahasthi temple the following day!
Since we had finished with tirupati darshan quite soon we decided to make a visit to the Padmavathi Temple(the wife of Lord Venkateshwara)It is believed that a visit to Tirumala is fruitful only after visiting the Sri Padmavathi Devi temple. And here too not again another set of "Free Darshans","10/- Darshans,40/- Darshans,200...500...1000/-s,Quick Darshans!! Mann...if one has to see the Lord and wanna take the simple way then you really gotto have a fat money purse huh! :(
The next day early morning we took a bus to Kalahasthi temple.The journey took hardly an hour.Sri Kalahasthi Temple is considered as the Kailash of the south,and is said to be the site where Kannappa, one of the 63 Saivite Nayanars, was ready to offer his last remaining eye to cover blood flowing from the Siva linga before the Lord Siva stopped him and granted mukti. More info on this temple can be found in this link : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kalahasti_temple
As usual we werent aware of the procedure to conduct the pujas at this temple.Flowersellers and shopkeepers mislead us and we got inside the temple.To are good luck we found a mallu guide who took us over through the whole procedure of the "Rahu-Kethu Sarpadosham puja" and helped us in visiting the divine idols inside the temple.The temple was beautifullll.Idols from Bhaktha Kanakadasa,Thottanikarra,Kaalla Bhairava,Shani Deva,the devotees of Lord Shiva etc were situated inside the temple.It was indeed a beautiful visual to see :) Not to forget here too were the 250/- , 1000/ etc darshans stressed upon :)
And thus ended our two day pilgrimage tour as we took a bus towards Bangalore and reached home within 4-5hours drive .....had a good sound sleep :)....not to forget carrying all good memories and wonderful experiences and ofcourse the thought of relishing the yummmmyy laddooos stored in to eat the next day :)