20 Nov 2012

Tirupati: A day at the sacred shrine

Most school children associate Tirupati with shaved heads, because a way of offering to God is by shaving one’s head. Tirupati lies in the Chittoor district of Andhra Pradesh and is famous for the Venkateswara Swamy temple, which is the richest  temple in the country. This is one of the most visited Hindu pilgrimage cities in the country, in fact, one of the most important in the world. 
Venkateswara Swamy temple, tirupati (Photo Courtesy: amazingtruelifestories)
It is generally very hot in Tirupati so when on this pilgrimage, it is a good idea to wear a hat and carry a little water.  A typical day in this sacred shrine would follow this pattern:

Make your journey from Tirumala hills towards the Venkateswara Swamy temple. Tirumala hills is home to 108 holy springs. It is believed that taking a dip or tirtha in these holy springs will relieve you from the cycle of births and deaths. Pushkarni, Kumaradhara and Tumburu are some of the holy springs here, to name a few.
Venkateswara Swamy temple (Photo Courtesy: indianbureaucratsdiary)
 The holy shrine itself is located on the summit of one of seven hills, and so it is also called the “Temple of Seven Hills”. Many climb the hill barefoot as a sign of devotion to Lord Venkateswara or Vishnu. Being one of the most visited pilgrimage destinations in the world, particularly during annual festivals such as Brahmotsavam when about 500,000 pilgrims have been known to visit, it is pretty crowded, to say the least. For a darshan or a sight of the Lord in the temple, waiting in long lines is common, and many of these waits are hours long; anywhere between three and eight hours long. Once you see the Lord, which is for a brief time so as to not to keep people waiting longer than required, your darshan is complete. Many find this sight of the Lord very soul-stirring.
Tirumala Hills (Photo Courtesy: en.wikipedia.org)
 There are lines of people who want to shave their heads as well. Many believe that they will get what they pray for when they make this offering of hair.

The next line to stand in is in the one for the prasadam. The sweet given here is generally a fantastic preparation of the laddoo, and you have the option of buying it as well so you can pick up some for your family and friends.

Tirupati is a great place to visit even if you’re keen on seeing more than this sacred shrine. Recently, the Tirupati airport was declared as an international airport, so you can take a flight toTirupati from world over or of course, make it to this sacred destination by train or by bus. However you make your way here, you’ll definitely have a good experience in Tirupati.