[Travel Series] A visit to the world’s second richest temple at Tirupati
Tirupati, one of the busiest and most crowded cities of Andhra Pradesh is popularly known for housing the second richest temple in the world. Lord Venkateshwara resides on the Tirumala hill (or Malai, as the locals call it) that’s at 22 Km from Tirupati Bus stand. Most devotees catch the buses that are available once in every fifteen minutes from Tirupati Bus Stand to the top of Tirumala hill. A few others take the steps leading up to the temple from the bottom of the hill. The hill town has been built around the temple with facilities that will cater the needs of everyone that comes to this place. Considering the diversity, Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams (TTD) trust has developed the region in a way that anyone who visits it can find comfort.
Tirupati Venkateswara Temple
When to visit?
No matter what season you choose, Tirupati will always be crowded. Tirupati has winter from November and March. As the weather is cool and pleasant at the time, it is better to visit Tirupati in winter.
Approximate expense (For a day): Rs 300
What to eat?
There is no limitation for the number of food options available in Tirupati. In the city, there are many restaurants and street food stalls that serve local Andhra food and other cuisines. On top of Tirumala hill, hotels serving a mixture of many cuisines can be found. Food stalls run along the road a little outside the temple. These stalls serve a variety of items for reasonable price. While some of these places are packed with customers paying, ordering, and searching for places to stand other restaurants have spread mats on the road to provide its customers place to sit. Whatever you do, wherever you eat, just remember to take home some Tirupati ladoos!
What to do?
Most people that visit Tirupati just go up the Tirumala hill, visit Balaji (Venkateswara Swamy) temple, look around the stalls that have been lined up on the road in front if the temple and go back. Many do not go to explore the other attractions in the place.
Temple tour at Tirumala
Sri Vekateswara Swamy Temple
The popular Venkateswara temple is one of the most visited and the second richest temple in the world. The legendary temple has its roots buried deep in mythology. The lord is believed to have resided on the hill to ensure the existence and safety of man-kind. Tirumala is said to be the place where Lord Venkateswara married Goddess Padmavati. Srinivasa Kalyanam is still celebrated with great joy on the hill. The temple that has been built in Dravidian architecture is blissful to look at.
Entrance at Venkateswara Temple
Sri Bhu Varaha Swamy Temple
Bhu Varaha Swamy is said to be an incarnation of Lord Vishnu. The deity is in the form of half wild boar and half human. According to the legend, Vishnu took the form of a wild boar to retrieve the earth from sinking into Patala Loka (underworld). Tradition says that Bhu Varaha Swamy Temple must be visited before visiting Venkateswara Temple. The temple is located on the banks of Swami Pushkarin on the north side of the temple.
Don’t miss the Sri Venkateshwara Museum (S.V. Museum)
Ranging from archaeology to contemporary, the museum houses more than 6,000 items. Most of them are of great importance to the culture and traditions of Tirumala and Hinduism. For many centuries rulers have worshipped Venkateshwara Swami and paid tribute to the lord. The museum’s architecture is mesmerizing. Surrounded by greenery, the museum is also the best place to learn and relax. It also consists of a refreshing meditation centre.
Visit Shi Venkateshwara Zoo
Sri venkateswara Zoo (S. V. Zoo) is one such place that aims to keep animals in enclosures that look similar to their natural habitat. The Zoo aims at educating people about the conservation of natural life. There are many herbivorous and carnivorous animals in the zoo such as boars, deer, giraffe, Jaguar, tigers, and other mammals. Many varieties of birds, including the Flamingos can be seen here. Crocodiles and Tortoise can be found here too. The Zoo also has safaris, animal adoption, and volunteer work programs.
Where to stay?
Tirupati, being a busy and most visited city has many options for accommodation and Tirumala, as a developed temple town has accommodation options for everyone. TTD has built many buildings with hundreds of rooms around the town. Rooms are available from Rs 50 to Rs 500. Many other luxury options are also available.
Hostels: There are no hostels in the region.
Plan your commute:
Train: Tirupati railway station (TPTY) is well equipped with trains that commute to regions inside the state and to other parts of the country.
Road: There are hundreds of buses that come to Tirupati on a daily basis from various parts of the country. Regular buses are available from Tirupati to reach Tirumala hill.
Air: Tirupati International Airport receives many domestic and international flights every day.
Local Transport: There’s free bus! That’s right, free buses wander around the town and drop people to shopping streets, the temple entrance, and the blocks in which their rooms are. Other than the bus, there are many taxis and jeeps that one can take.
Free Bus at Tirupati
A note to the backpacker:
If you wish to understand the true meaning of unity in diversity, you have to visit Tirupati. Tirupati is a must visit destination in Andhra Pradesh. The way in which a temple town has emerged on the hill is in itself a most interesting aspect of the place. The only unpleasant aspect of Tirupati is how much it is crowded. Whether you go to the bus or the railway station, every nook and corner of the city will be filled with people. If you’re willing to keep that one aspect aside and go around exploring the region, there are many things that one can come across. The mix of many cultures has led Tirupati to develop a diverse culture of its own.
A regular day at Tirupati
This is an article from the Aao hostel travel fellowship series