Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Visit to Lord Balaji's abode at Tirumala Tirupati

Tirumala Tirupati venkateswara swamy darshan
I have commenced this blog after returning from a visit to Tirupati yesterday, so its only apt that i start with a post on my trip to the Lord's abode.

This was my third visit to Tirupati. The first was after my marriage where we hardly had any time to know what was happening around us. The second was for the 'mundan' ceremony (of giving the birth hair to the Lord) of my first child and that too passed away with little time to understand the setting. This third visit of mine for the 'mundan' ceremony of my second child was far more enlightening. To begin with, I was amazed by the scale and the grandeur of the entrance to the abode.
                                                                                     
It was one of the grandest entrances that I have seen and was truly spectacular.  As we progressed our journey to Tirumala I was struck by the roads which were so neat and tidy and to top it there were no pot holes at all. The concerned department must be working very hard to ensure this.  I also for the first time in my life saw the sign "No open Urination - Fine Rs/-25".  It was mind boggling to see such a sign in our country where this practice is so prevalent - atleast the major cities could take a cue from this. On reaching our destination I was fascinated by the use of technology to root out corruption!!! Yes you read right - to root out corruption!!!. To understand better I will explain how our room was reserved.  At the local TTD counter in our city I booked a room online. The clerk took my photo using a webcam and took my forefinger impression on a finger print scanner. When I reached Tirumala, my photo and finger print were already in the computer of the reception and the clerk there again took my photo using a web camera and my finger print using a finger print scanner. After verifying that both are same, my room was allotted.  Such a wonderful system obviously leaves no scopes for middlemen, agents or touts in room allottment. But as all the rooms are not allotted online there is still some scope for the operations of these people in the rooms that are allotted on the spot. Well things cant be too perfect!!

Then there was this ceremony of mundan where the waiting time in the free kalyankatta (the place where the mundan is performed) was upwards of six hours. The Temple administration had opened a few more kalyankattas which charge a small fee of Rs/-10. We managed our ceremony in about half an hour. Thereafter we went for darshan. It was very heartening to see that the administration have commenced a seperate darshan for children of less than one year old (along with father n mother) called Supadham darshan.  Incidentally Supadham darshan is also for Defence, TTD employees, Newly weds and NRI's also. It was nice of TTD board to extend this facility to these categories especially the Defence as they are guarding our country's borders and therefore may have limited time.

Inside the line there was a fair amount of pushing and pulling but once we entered the temple the rush was too much. The day I went I realised how stampedes take place during religious processions. It was totally mindless of the people because they waited in the queue for 7-10 hours but they could not wait another 5-10 minutes for the people in front to have a peaceful darshan and they themselves have the same.  However, such common sense like someone said is not very common and therefore the stampede like situation continued right into the sanctum sanctorum from where the Temple ushers took over in moving crowds forward.

The Sight of the Lord was divine and I was mesmerised for that few seconds I could manage to stand in front of him.

Thereafter I was unceremoniously pulled aside by a Temple usher and I moved out. I looked for the Hundi inside but could not find it. As I came out I saw huge signs reading 'SriVari Hundi' and went there to give my offerings.   After the offerings I took the prasad and also went to collect my laddus from the laddu counters.  I was quite impressed by the notice in front of every counter (about 40 of them) mentioning the weight of the Laddu and that each devotee is free to measure the weight if in doubt. And believe you me - they installed a digital weighing machine outside every counter. This is another use of technology to curb any malpractices in laddu making (this gains even more significance from the recent event which had come to light where the executive officer of a Temple provided underweight laddus to the devotes over a period of one year without being detected!!).

The collection of the laddu technically marked the completion of our sojourn and we returned back to our room after having dinner. Peculiarly Meals are not available in most of the guest/rest houses of TTD and one has to perforce go to the nearest restaurant which would most of the time be too crowded though the rates are economical. The temple also serves meals to everyone (Anna Danam to reportedly about 40-50,000 people every day)at designated places. I also saw refreshments being given free of cost to people standing in the queue.

All in all, I returned from this trip as a happy man. Whatever little misconceptions that I had about mal practices in Tirupati management were reasonably dispelled by what I observed this time, atleast in the events that concern a common man (as I am not enlightened enough to comment on bigger games played there). I sure look forward to my next trip...

11 comments:

  1. Hi,
    I also intend to visit Tirumala for my 2 yr old son's Mundan Ceremony. Could you please let me know more details about the other Kalyanakattas (where you finished in half an hour) like location, and other steps/requirements to get the mundan done ??

    Thanks and God Bless You !

    Rakesh
    vrakeshis@yahoo.co.in

    ReplyDelete
  2. hi rakesh
    this particular kalyan khatta is in the ground floor of a ttd guest house. the guest house itself is located within 100 metres of Reliance guest house and also sainik niwas. sainik niwas is quite popular with the taxi drivers, so you can easily find your way there. normally the kalyan khatta caters to only the people staying in the ttd guest house but even ousiders can manage to get it done there by requesting the staff. they would charge about ten rupees for the ticket and thereafter the barber would ask u to offer a dakshin. have about 56 or 116 in hand to give the barber. better give him in advance so that he does the mundan nicely. after the mundan he will apply some sandalwood paste on the bare head. take a bit more paste from him so that you can apply it on your son's head after taking head bath in your room.

    there is also a ceremony called 'Kalyanam' it costs about 1000/- rupees. its best to take that as people taking part in the kalyanam ceremony get an entry from the 'supadam' gate (which cuts down about 6-7 hours of queue time). in case you are an nri, or have an infant below one year - entry from supadam gate is permitted even if you are not performing 'kalyanam'.

    its always better to book your darshan ticket and accommodation from the nearest ttd eseva counter as getting a room directly at tirupati is near impossible. in case you require any more info pse mail me at thecommonman2@gmail.com
    wish u all the best and a speedy & happy darshan of the Lord

    ReplyDelete
  3. A very comprehensive article about Tirupati trip indeed covering topics as diverse as sightseeing Lord Balaji's abode at Tirumala and entry fee. Informative Post .

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  4. thank you mr jaidev for your encouraging comment.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Great Article about Tirupati Trip. Really your article will helps many devotees, who plans to go for Tirupati! Expecting more articles like this from you.

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  6. Thank you for your comments. I think your blog will further help the tourists.

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  10. Thanks for sharing information about Tirupati Balaji Temple. Located just 4 hours away from Bnagalore city, Tirupati (Thirupathi) boasts of being the location of one of the most affluent temples of India. Also, check out other tourist place near Bangalore and plan your vacation.

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  11. Bala ji Tirupati is the most visited temple in India. Whenever i visit Tirupati, even after bone crushingly tired, i feel the positive energy inside me that makes me wanting to see the place again and again. there are so many places to visit in tirupati other than temples which are worth a glance.

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