The complete guide to a pilgrimage of Tirupati
Tirumala Tirupati or Tirupati Balaji, however you address the almighty, the Temple of Tirupati attracts devotees from all over. Being one of the most recognized and holy places of India, nearly 50,000 to 100,000 pilgrims come to this temple to seek blessings and pay obeisance. Sitting on the Venkatachala Hills, in the Chittoor district of Andhra Pradesh, the temple enshrines Sri Venkateshwara, one of the avatars of Vishnu. It is also known as the Temple of Seven Hills and spreads across 26.75 square kilometers.
The highlight of Tirupati is its core philosophy of love and equality and prohibits any sacrificial offerings, unlike many other sects of Hinduism. Another notable aspect of this temple is the massive amount of donations it receives every day, from the devotees. This makes Tirupati, one of the richest temples in the world, where devotees offer gold and monetary donations, which is also aligned with a mythological belief.
Tirupati is well connected to the major cities of the south by road and rail. If you are traveling from Chennai to Tirupati by car, it takes around 3.5 hours to reach. And, if you want to travel from Bangalore to Tirupati by car, then it takes a little over 5 hours to reach the temple town.
The Tirupati Temple provides food and shelter options to its pilgrims, on its premises. The Tarigonda Vengamamba Annaprasadam complex, within the temple, offers free meals to visitors. There are also lodges and hotels in the vicinity, which have budget accommodation options.
Best time to travel
Summers in the state of Andhra Pradesh are hot and sultry, with temperatures rising to 42°C. Usually, winter months are cooler and more pleasant for temple tours. If you want a proper darshan, without much hassle, it’s better to plan your trip at least a month in advance. You can also book a VIP darshan which allows you easy and quick access to the main altar.
What you should not miss
If you really want to experience the true energy of Tirupati, you can plan your pilgrimage around a traditional festival. The most significant festival at this temple is the nine-day celebration of Sri Venkateshwara Brahmotsavam. Other major Hindu festivals like Ganesh Chaturthi, Ugadi, Sankranti, Kartik Purnima and Diwali, are grandly celebrated here. During any of these celebrations, the temple atmosphere becomes enigmatic. If you’re planning on heading from Bangalore to Tirupati by car during these festival, make all your bookings well in advance.
The temple structure in itself is a work of architectural wonder. The stone carvings on the facades, interiors and the towers, reflect the finesse and skillfulness of ancient Dravidian architecture and is awe-inspiring.
The Prasadam offered to pilgrims is at its best here. The Tirupati Laddu, the most popular and prominent of all, has gained recognition for being the most sacred and delicious at the same time. Don’t miss the other prasadams served at the temple- curd rice, tamarind rice, vadas, Pongal, appams, jalebi, murukku, dosa, sheera (rawa) and payasam. All these food items are given as offerings to the God and then laid out for the devotees to savor and feel blessed.
The throngs of people, the resonating chants of mantras, the imposing façade and the powerful aura of the deity- everything collectively creates a surreal ambiance. It’s noisy yet peaceful, it’s crowded yet you find solace, it’s imposing yet, there’s a warmth in its interiors. Because, here, at Tirupati, the faithful find order in the chaos.