Wednesday, November 13, 2013
Trip to Holy Pilgrimage: Tirupati Venkateswara Temple - Part 1
9th August 2013
This was my 2nd trip to Tirupati Venkateswara Temple and I was equally excited. We have planned this trip 2 months advance and got all the bookings done. The only thing left was how to do the Darshan. As we all know, Tirupati is not like any other temple in India and here if you go without any knowledge, you will be kind of lost.
It is the most visited temple of India and during the holidays, around 2,3 lacks people do their *Darshan in a day. During holidays and festivals, the average waiting time in the Sarvadarsanam (Free Darshan) queue is around 20 hours while in Special Entry Darshan (Seeghra Darshan) queue, it is 8 hours which is very high by any measure. Last time, we managed to get the 300/- ticket in advance through some sources. But now the system is changed and for 300/- ticket, you have to go to TTD Counters which are available in various cities and share your finger prints and other details to get the ticket. TTD(Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams) is an independent trust which manages the various operations of the temple. As my in-laws cannot come in advance, so it was bit disappointing to arrange for this ticket. However, my Uncle through his network managed to arrange a ticket for us and that too in VIP break Darshan.
We boarded a train, NARAYANADRI EXPRESS, from Secundrabad at 6 pm on 9 th and reached the Tirupati after 12 hours i.e. at 6 am in the morning on 10th. As we were 5 persons and luckily get 1 compartment of 6 seats, so the journey becomes very smooth. We shared a lot of things. As I didn’t get a time to interact with my in-laws earlier, so it was good time to know and connect with each other. We ate a lot in the journey.
When we reached at 6 am in the morning, one of the VIP Protocol officer came to receive us. We have told him to book the Darshan 2 times, 10th evening and 11th morning. But he said, it will be difficult to get the Darshan today due to heavy rush and we can do the Darshan tomorrow morning. Little disapoointed but we thought we can do the local sight seeing in Tirumala.
But when we reached the top i.e. at Tirumala which is 20km from Tirupati, we were shocked to see the situation. No. of pilgrims have crossed 5 lacks as it was a long weekend and VIP quota was cancelled that day. As there was a huge rush, they cannot stop the Sarvadarsanam(Free Darshan) queue and hence VIP break Darshan was not possible.VIP Protocol officer was saying that he will do something and from the last 18 years in his service, he never send anybody back without the Darshanam. He shared a list of big celebrities whom he had assisted in Darshan. After a lot of phone calls and 2 hours of grueling discussion, Darshan was arranged somehow and luckily, it was one of the best Darshan and also the 1st Darshan of the day.
In Tirupati, there are only 3 types of Darshans, also called as Sevas, in which you get a chance to spend a time in a temple otherwise, you will only get a glimpse of god and before you know it, you will already be dragged out of the list from the security guards. Last time when I visited, I did not able to do the Darshan for more than 5 seconds.
3 Darshans are Suprabhatam, Thomala Seva, Archana. We got the tickets for Suprabhatam Seva and the reporting time was 2 am next day i.e. on 11th August. And also, it is the 1st Darshan. Of the day where the priest wakes up the god, make him bath and do all the morning rituals.
After breathing a sigh of relief, now we have lot of time available to us. We planned to visit the other attractions in and around Tirunala.
Please click Trip to Holy Pilgrimage: Tirupati Venkateswara Temple - Part 2 to continue to read part 2.
* Darshan - God’ view/ sighting god