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How to Reach Tirupati From Kerala
Though Keralites (Malayalees) make great pilgrimages, their journey to Tirupati, the busiest and the richest temple in India, is comparatively less. They make several trips to various spiritual circuits of Tamil Nadu and Karnataka, yet most of them skip Tirupati for reasons best known to them.
Why Do Malayalees keep such a trend? I gave a thought to this phenomena and got some conclusions. The prime reason may be their thought that Andhra is a far away place. In a way, they are justified for both Tamil Nadu and Karnataka shares its borders with Kerala at various places. Naturally, they feel a proximity to these states. And in that sense, Andhra or for that matter Tirupati is a distant place. But is that so actually? No, in fact, Tirupati is even closer than Chennai, Malayalees' favorite and usual travel spot. Can you believe the fact that Tirupati can be reached within ten hours from Palakkad? For the Palakkad-Tirupati trip, the distance is 526 km and the journey time is mere 10 hours. Feeling happy? Fine, that is the fact.
Fear of language may be another reason. Though the language of Andhra is Telugu and it is what the main language of Tirupati too, people here can follow some other languages well. Tamil is widely used here. They also follow Hindi and English. Since most of the Malayalees have some basic knowledge of Tamil, communication is never a problem here. Above all, the people at this temple town are very friendly and help you when a need arises.
This article is to help pilgrims from Kerala to reach Tirupati saving time, money and labor. I often find and wonder why Kerala people go all the way to Chennai to reach Tirupati. It is a sheer waste of time, money and very tiring too. This article will help all who travel from Mangalore and Malabar side and also the pilgrims from Trivandrum-Ernakulam-Thrissur side. I have two sets of the travel itineraries for both Malabar and Travancore travelers.
The basic thing you need to understand is that Tirupati is easily accessible from Katpadi. The distance between Katpadi and Tirupati is just 105 km, which can be reached in two to three hours. Passenger Trains take maximum two and half hours and Express Trains just two hours or even less, to say 90 minutes, for the journey. You can also go by bus or taxi to Tirupati from here and the time taken is just two hours for taxi and for the bus, it is three hours. The Express Bus covers the distance within two and half hours and the charge is Rs.97/- per head. The bus will drop you before the Katpadi Railway station while you return. When Tirupati is just 105 km from Katpadi, why should you unnecessarily make a long journey to Chennai, 129 km away? Not only that, again you need to travel a distance of 151 km from Chennai to reach Tirupati. (The fact is that you can reach Tirupati even before you reach Chennai).
- How to Reach Tirupati and Make A Comfortable Darshan
Tirupati in Andhra is the busiest pilgrim circuit in India. It is also world's one of the richest shrines. This article gives you certain guidelines on how to reach and make a pleasant darshan here.
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Tips for Booking Train Ticket
Though convenient, direct trains to Tirupati are almost fully booked. Hence getting a reservation is difficult unless you book very early.
You can easily get a reservation to Katpadi. Since there are several trains running between Katpadi and Tirupati (See the Table), this will be the best option.
Since most of the time direct trains are fully reserved well in advance, you need to reserve up to Katpadi in any Chennai bound trains from your boarding point. Then reserve Katpadi-Tirupati ticket, all through online. Actually, there is no need of reserving a ticket for Katpadi-Tirupati as it just 90 minutes journey for express and 3 hours for Passenger (local) trains.
Tirupati and Tirupati West are different stations. You need to alight at Tirupati. The Tirupati West is but about just 2 km before reaching Tirupati.
Renigunda railway station is another option to go to Tirupati, which is 10 km away. Some long service trains pass through that route skipping Tirupati.
Best plan for pilgrims from Mangalore/Malabar side
Reserve your ticket to Katpadi in Train No. 12686 Chennai Express. The train starts its journey from Mangalore Central at 16.20 (4.20 pm) and arrives Katpadi at 5.43 am. (It reaches Kozhikode at 20.10 (8.10 pm) and Palakkad at 22.45 (10.45 pm).
Your next train is Train No. 57404 Katpadi-Tirupati Passenger, which starts at 06.15 am and reaches Tirupati at 09.10 am. Since the train starts from Katpadi, there is no problem in finding seats. It is economy too with a fare of Rs.25/- only. No reservation required in this train. You can get the ticket from the station easily as you have a time gap of half an hour here. If you have a direct ticket to Tirupati from your boarding point, then you can just resume your journey. In that case, you can continue the journey on the Passenger train without any problem. But I must warn you one thing that the journey in the Passenger train is not comfortable. Finding a seat is sometimes difficult since it has only three or maximum five compartments only. So what I advise you is to travel in the Express trains departing at 7.25 am. Its charge is Rs.50/- per head.
For Pilgrims from Thiruvananthapuram, Ernakulam and Thrissur side, they have some easy option since there are three direct trains to Tirupati running daily. These are Sabari Express (No.17229/17230), Cape Mumbai Express (No.16382/16381) and Kerala Express (No.12625/12626). which reach Tirupati at 00.30, 03.15 and 03.55 am respectively.
From Katpadi, apart from the Passenger train, you can also try any of the following Express Trains running on daytime:
1) Train No. 16787 Ten Jammu Exp. (Leaves Katpadi at 7.25 reaches Tirupati at 9 am)
2) Train No.16317 Himsagar Exp. (7.25 - 9.33)
3) Train No.16780 Rameswaram Tirupati Ex. (7.42 – 10.35)
4) Train No.12659 Gurudev Exp. (7.25 – 9.33)
Note: The departure time at Katpadi and arrival time at Tirupati are mentioned in brackets above. Also, check the following tables for more information on Passenger Trains between Katpadi and Tirupati to and fro.
Katpadi-Tirupati Passenger Trains
Chamrajnagar Tirupati F.P.
17.50 (5.50 pm)
22.10 (10.10 pm)
23.45 (11.45 pm)
Tirupati-Katpadi Passenger Trains
Arrival at Katpadi
14.10 (2.10 pm)
16.40 (04.40 pm)
22.00 (10.00 pm)
The most notable point while booking railway ticket, whether you come from Mangalore/Kozhikode side or Thiruvananthapuram/Thrissur side, the best option will be definitely a break journey from Katpadi since the direct trains (to Tirupati) are most of the time fully booked. But, you won't find any difficulty in finding a reservation in Chennai Mail and Chennai Express up to Katpadi. As already mentioned Katpadi-Tirupati journey is short (105 km) and there are plenty of trains plying between these two stations. Some Express trains just take one and half hours to cover the trip. You can check these facts by entering the IRCTC site. To help you further I have given the timetable of trains running between Katpadi and Tirupati and vice versa. Please study the same and arrange your travel plan accordingly.
Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams
TTD Administrative Building
K.T. Road , Tirupati 517 501
Andhra Pradesh. India.
Please contact Helpdesk no's : +91-877-227 7777/ 223 3333 / 226 4252 , 91-877-226 3922 for any enquiries.
Administrative Office : 10:00 AM - 05:00 PM (IST), Monday to Saturday. Sunday is a holiday.
Temples & Choultries : Round the clock, throughout the year.
Food & Accommodation
It is a relief that we get decent vegetarian food both at Tirupati and Tirumala and that too at a nominal rate. Though the food served here is mainly South Indian. Other cuisines like Punjabi and North Indian also available. And for accommodation, you have two options-either you stay at Tirumala (where the temple situates) or at Tirupati. The best option is staying at Tirupati as it has a variety of hotels suiting all pockets. Also, this will help you to explore other temples and attractions in Tirupati. In fact, the rates at Tirupati are so cheap when compared to other pilgrimage centers. You can find plenty of budget hotels at places around the railway station and the APSRTC bus stand.
At Tirumala, the lodging facilities are fully controlled by the TTD and to reserve your rooms, you have to book online in advance. Getting an accommodation through online is rather tedious. Most of the times, the rooms are fully booked. You can opt rooms for prices ranging from Rs.100/- to Rs.2000/- at Tirumala and the range starts from Rs.200/- and goes up to Rs.1000/- at Tirupati. You can find more information about the accommodation at the Homepage of TTD or at the following link: http://www.tirumala.org/Accommodation.aspx. The rates offered by TTD are attractive and the facilities are decent. But don't worry the private hotels also offer rooms at attractive prices but only at Tirupati, whereas TTD offers accommodation both at Tirumala and Tirupati.
Comfortable darshan and offering of Seva are other concerns for a pilgrim. You need to be well aware of these facts too before proceeding your journey. But don't worry, I have written some detailed articles with relevant information, all based on my several trips to the hill temple better known as Tirupati Venkateswara Temple. Links to these articles are given in the box column above. Please read the same for more information on Tirupati.
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© 2014 Sunil Kumar Kunnoth