Pritam Rohila Travels

Reports of my travels along with some pictures

Apr 1, 2014

ROHILAS IN INDIA 2014: 6 Tirupati, Andhra Pradesh

February 9 & 10, 2014

After reaching Delhi in late afternoon, we went directly to our Hotel, near the Airport. Next day we boarded our 1:45 p.m. Spice Jet flight to Tirupati.

Upon reaching Tirupati Airport at 5:25 p.m., we took a taxi to our hotel. Hotel Minerva Grand was one of the best hotels, we have ever stayed at. Hotel was clean and rooms comfortable. It was staffed with attentive, courteous and helpful personnel. Buffet breakfasts were excellent. 

Tirupati Town

Located in the southeast corner of the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh, Tirupati is a town of about 560,000 people. For the millions of pilgrims, who visit the famous Tirupati Balaji  Temple nearby, it functions as a service town. Also it is named after this temple It is named after the Tirupati Balaji  Temple (Tiru=Sri=Maha Lakshmi; Pati= Husband, meaning Husband of Maha Lakshmi, that is Lord Vishnu, also known in South India as Blaji and Lord Venkateswara).  

Situated atop one of the seven Saptgii Hiils, the Tirupati Balaji Temple is about 12 Miles (20 Kilometers) away from the Tirupati town. It is believed to be the world's largest pilgrimage site, drawing more pilgrims than Mecca or Rome. According to one estimate ( July 6, 2011), on n average around 60,000 pilgrims visit it every day. On special occasions their number rises up to 300,000 a day.

Tirupati Balaji (aka Sri Venkateswara). Temple

The 10th century temple is the most highly revered pilgrimage site of the Hindus. Many devotees believe that a visit to the temple fulfills all their wishes and requests. Some walk bare-feet for miles uphill to the temple.

Bare-feet devotees walking uphill to the Tirupati Balaji Temple

It is believed to be one of the world's richest Temple. According to one report the main deity alone is covered with more than 2200 Pounds (1000 Kilograms) of gold. The temple uses its wealth, besides the usual expenses, to support a university, a hospital and some orphanages and schools at Tirupati. Also the temple provides cheap accommodations for pilgrims.

The idol at Tirupati Balaji Temple

Anyway upon our arrival at the temple, we encountered  very long lines of devotees snaking through covered corridors. Our driver guided us to a line, which, after inquiries, he had determined was the best for us. But after standing in it for one and one-half hours, without moving forward even an inch, we gave up.

Someone told us to look for the special line for the devotees who have bought Rs. 300 (about $5) per head tickets for quick darshan (view) of the deity enshrined at the temple. We wandered for a long time, in the sun,  up and down various levels of the temple grounds looking for the place where we could buy those tickets, but to no avail. Frustrated, we gave up and used someone's cell phone to call our driver to take us back to our hotel.

In the afternoon, we decided to visit a few temple in and around Tirupati town. First we went to the small town of Tiruchanur, on the outskirts of Tirupati metropolitan area to the Padmavati temple.This temple is dedicated to Padmavati, a reincarnation of Goddess Lakshmi.

Padmavati Temple

Idol of Goddess Padmavati


We bought tickets at Rs 100 each for the privilege of joining a
shorter line to enter the sanctum sanctorum. But we reached there
a little too late, as the deity had been taken out for the daily evening stroll in the temple courtyard. However we could see the idol and the processional through a temple window.

The spacious courtyard was buzzing with activity. Devotees were buying flowers to offer to the deity, seeking blessings from the temple elephants, and performing various rituals.

Flower-vendors at Padmavati Temple

Elephants bless devotees at Padmavati Temple

Next we proceeded to the bottom of the Saptgiri Hills to see Kapileswaraswami Temple. It is the only shrine in the area, which is dedicated to Lord Shiva.

Sri Kapileswaraswami Temple, Tirupati

The temple has splendid architecture. There is a gaily painted Hindu pleasure garden on the temple grounds.

Pleasure Garden at Sri Kapileswaraswami Temple, Tirupati

 Also there is a natural waterfall. It empties into a large tank, where people bathe. The tank is surrounded by a colonnade.

At the center of the  traffic circle outside the temple stands a statue of Lord Shiva's mount, Nandi bull.

Waterfall, Kapileswaraswami Temple, Tirupati

Nandi at traffic circle, Tirupati


Our final destination this evening was the Sri Govindrajaswamy Temple,  the most visited temple in the area, after Tirupati Balaji Temple. This 12th century temple has two shrines. One shrine is dedicated to Lord Vishnu, depicted  here as reclining on the coils of the Anantnag serpent. The other shrine is dedicated to his incarnation, Lord Krishna, who is shown here as driving Arjuna's chariot in the epic battle of Mahabharata.   

Elephants wait to bless devotees, Govindrajaswami Temple


Reclining Vishnu Idol

The inner sanctum, is open to non-Hindus also, has a large black idol of reclining Lord Vishnu. The idol has a bronze armor, and is bedecked with flowers.

Processional at Govindrajaswami Temple, Tirupati

Around sunset, led by musicians, the idol is carried out in a processional in the courtyard for the devotees who gather there every evening.

On our way out from the Govindrajaswami Temple, we cam across a large tank with lighted displays of religious icons. Many people had gathered there to enjoy the scene.

Swamy Pushkarini, Tirupati

By now we were ready to return to our hotel for dinner. Next day we were scheduled to leave for Hyderabad.


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