- Travel and Places
How to Reach Tirupati and Make A Comfortable Darshan
“Life is a pilgrimage. The wise man does not rest by the roadside inns. He marches direct to the illimitable domain of eternal bliss, his ultimate destination.” - Swami Sivananda.
Tirupati is one of the most sought after divine destinations in India’s spiritual circuit. The holy hill temple at Tirumala in Tirupati is the busiest and the richest Hindu temple in the world. Lord Venkateswara is the presiding deity here. The temple is also considered to be one of the richest religious establishments in the world with an annual income of over Rs.2,400/- crores or 24,000 million!
Tirumala in Tirupati
District: Chittoor in Andhra Pradesh, South India.
Don’t be confused with Tirumala and Tirupati. Tirumala is a hill station 24 km away from Tirupati. The distance between Tirupati Railway Station to Tirumala is 26 km. Tirupati is the base town. The Lord Venkateswara or Balaji temple is situated on the hilltop of Tirumala. It is 3200 feet above sea level. and comprises seven hills which are said to represent the seven heads of Adishesha.
How to reach Tirupati
Tirupati is the base or main town of Tirumala. Tirupati has good connectivity by all means of transport. Earlier while coming by Train, pilgrims had to alight at Renigunda, which is 10 km away. But things are easy now with the establishment of a railway station at Tirupati. It is a big station with all facilities. Trains to almost all major towns and cities are being operated from here. Several Express and Passenger trains either operate or pass through the station.
There are two stations with the name Tirupati. One is Tirupati West and the other one is Tirupati. The distance between these two stations is just 2 km. You need to get down at Tirupati, not Tirupati West. Tirupati West, the small station comes before you reach Tirupati.
The nearest Airport is Tirupati, 40 km away. It is a domestic airport and operates services to Hyderabad, Vizag, Chennai, Bangalore and New Delhi. The airport is just 15 km away from the Tirupati city. Chennai is another airport, which is 130 km from there.
How to reach Tirumala
Tirumala is 24 km away from Tirupati. You can reach by your own vehicle or private taxis or by APSRTC (Andhra Pradesh State Road Transport Corporation) buses. The bus charge is Rs.45/head. For children, it is Rs.24/-. The journey may take roughly one hour.
The ghat road is in excellent condition and very neat. It does offer some picturesque scenery along the route. Since the administration maintains one-way traffic here, the journey is smooth and accident-free. While returning, you are passing through another route. Though the journey is a pleasant experience, you will be subjected to thorough security check ups, for which you need to get down from the vehicle. After check up at the security plaza, you can resume the journey. But thanks to their systematic set up of things, what it takes is only a few minutes. The security plaza is wide, well equipped with the electronic surveillance system and manned by well-trained security guards. Your downward journey is, but without such procedures and quick.
The Tirupati Bus Stand is within walkable a distance of 0.6 km (600 meters only) from the Tirupati Railway station. The APSRTC conducts several services from Tirupati to Tirumala. Every two minutes' gap, there is a service. You may not find a conductor in the bus. The driver himself will come and collect the charges from you before starting the journey. Sometimes you may be asked to collect the tickets from the counter at the bus stand.
You can climb up Tirumala hills through the well-built walkway constructed by TTD (Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams). It is an interesting and devotional journey and many devotees prefer this route. You need to climb nearly 3550 steps (11 km). It starts from the foot of the hills known as Alipiris. The 11 km long journey takes minimum 3 to 4 hours. Actually, it depends upon your physical condition. Though the route passes through ghat and forest, the TTD has arranged all facilities to help you with utilities like rest house, security, canteen, toilet, drinking water, etc. Medical facilities are also available.
Pilgrims reaching the temple on foot and availing the Divya Darshan tokens, which is issued halfway at Gali Gopuram on the footpath, have an advantage. They will be permitted through a different entry for darshan without much waiting time in the queue compartments. You are also provided one free laddu and two laddus at a subsidized price.
I personally have not tried this route, but very much willing to give it a try next time. My enthusiasm is in response to the strong recommendation by my friends and relatives who enjoyed this walking venture totally.
Communication is not a big issue in Tirupati as most of the people here will follow Tamil, Hindi, and English well though Telugu is their main language. Tamil is widely used here.
The TTD Administration has taken several steps to make your journey pleasant and comfortable. For any queries, you can contact the Helpline Nos. 0877-2277777 or 0877-2233333 or 0877-2264252 which work 24x7. Here also language is never a barrier. You just try to convince yourself.
Food & Accommodation
Though both Tirumala and Tirupati have excellent facilities for food and accommodation, Tirupati holds the better scope. The restaurants provide decent vegetarian foods at a reasonable rate. Finding accommodation at Tirumala is tough if you have not booked in advance as it has lesser facilities there. But no issue since Tirupati has good lodging facilities and that too at a fair rate. I got a decent accommodation near Tirupati railway station at an unbelievable rate.
You can also book rooms in advance either at Tirumala or Tirupati using the online service of TTD. But most of the times it is seen fully booked. The TTD rooms are very neat and cheap too. They also arrange free accommodation for the pilgrims. For more details, visit their site at https://www.ttdsevaonline.com.
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.
Darshan or Temple Visit
If you have the time and patience, do enjoy the free darshan or else just forget it. Free darshan means the long wait in the longest queue that may last for several hours. The solution then for a comfortable darshan is Paid Darshan. You have two options. The best one is Special Entry Darshan (SED), which costs you Rs.300/head and the other one is eSudarshanam with a price tag of Rs.50/head. During my last trip, it took just 90 minutes to get Darshan through SED. eSudarshanam will take more time. You can book darshan tickets either through online or at the respective counters at the temple premises and also from the various locations as notified by the TTD. For more information, please read my article “How-to-Book-Tirupati-Darshan-Ticket-Online-Step-by-Step-Guide“.
Because of the busiest nature of the temple, it is advised to book your sevas online in advance. For more details, read my article “How-to-Book-Seva-or-Puja-Online-at-Tirumala-Tirupati-Temple“.
Tirupati Laddu is so unique and a tasty ‘prasadam’. You can buy it from the counters in the temple at a subsidized price. If you have SED ticket, you are eligible for 2 laddus per person. Thus, if your ticket is for four persons, you can claim 8 laddus. Watch the Video appended to know more about the laddu story.
Now the administration is insisting on traditional dresses for 'paid darshan'. Men have to wear Dhothi (Mundu/Vashti) or Kurta. Pants/Jeans not allowed. Also, they don’t allow wrapping your Dhothi over pant. For women, no such restriction but requests a decent dress. It is understood that the authority is going to administer strict dress code for all pilgrims soon.
You will be thoroughly subjected for security check ups at different points. No electronic gadgets, camera, and mobile phones will be allowed to carry with you. You can leave them at the respective counters and collect after your darshan.
Once you reach the temple, you can avail facilities like accommodation, food, transportation, etc as free. Food packets, buttermilk, milk, and water are offered free while you are waiting in queues. Also, transportation to various points in Tirumala is free in the specially decorated buses (Dharmaratham) of TTD. It is amazing to note that nearly 35,000 pilgrims are being served free food daily here.
Details of Trains To & Fro Tirupati from Various Major Destinations
The above table contains the details of trains touching/originating/terminating at Tirupati station from various major rail heads. To find the timings and other particulars, just Google with the Train No. There are several other options as well trains to reach Tirupati, which you can search on the internet. For pilgrims from Kerala and certain parts of Goa, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, the best option will be a break journey from Katpadi and not Chennai. From Katpadi, it is just 105 km to Tirupati by train. It will be covered in two hours by Express trains and three hours by Passenger trains. For more information, please read my article "How-to-Reach-Tirupati-From-Kerala".
The distance from Chennai to Tirupati is 132 km. You can also depend on trains to Renigunda as certain trains do not pass through Tirupati. And Renigunda is just 10 km from Tirupati.
"Venkatadri samam sthanam Brahmande nasti Kinchana
Venkatesa samo devo na bhuto na Bhavishyati".
(There is no Shrine parallel to Venkatachalam and there is no God equal to Venkatesa. Truly, Lord Sri Venkateswara is Akhilanda Koti Brahmanda Nayaka.....)
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© 2014 Sunil Kumar Kunnoth