The Sri Venkateswara Swamy Vaari Temple or popularly known as the Tirupati Temple is one of the biggest pilgrimage destinations of South India. The sacred site attracts nearly 100,000 pilgrims and devotees every day, who come from all across the country to seek the blessings of Tirupati Balaji, or as the deity is regarded.
Perched on the verdant Venkatchala Hills, in the quiet Chittoor district of Andhra Pradesh, the Tirupati Temple is the sacred sanctum of Sri Venkateswara, one of the avatars of Vishnu. The temple complex spreads across 27 sq. km. over the hills and is often called the Temple of Seven Hills.
One of the key highlights of the Tirupati Temple is that unlike many Hindu temples, the community here does not believe in sacrificial offerings. Steeped in the core philosophy of love and equality, the temple also welcomes people from all caste and creed across all parts of the country.
How to travel
The temple town of Tirupati is well-connected to all major cities in and around the state. If you are traveling from any other city, you can reach Chennai by train or flight and from there, get an affordable Chennai to Tirupati tour package which will include your travel and local sightseeing or temple tours around the town. It is always more economical to have such trip packages and ensures a comfortable and convenient journey. When you keep the car for your entire trip, you can easily avoid the high-priced local rentals or the troubles of finding a local transport for your daily tours or visiting the nearby locales around Tirupati.
It takes somewhere between three and a half to four hours from Chennai to reach Tirupati.
There are two routes you can choose from:
Route 1: Chennai -> Puzhal -> Periyapalayam -> Kailasakona -> Nagalapuram -> Tirupati
Distance: 135 KM, Travel time: 3 H 30 M.
Route 2: Chennai -> Tiruvallur -> Thiruthani -> Puttur -> Tirupati
Distance: 152 KM, Travel time: 4 H
When to travel
As they say, there is no season or reason for seeking divine intervention. However, for all practical purposes, it is important to travel in the right season. And you can always time it right, so you get the best experience and have a heartfelt sighting of the almighty. Summers in Andhra Pradesh are harsh with temperatures as high as in the forties, making it hot and humid and unpleasant to be outdoors. Winters, on the other hand, are cooler and more conducive. If you are traveling in group, you can avail a reliable and licensed minibus rental in Chennai. However, if you want the optimal weather, plan your travels after the rainy season, that is, between August and September, when the landscape is refreshing and greenery abound.
Another important thing to remember when planning your Tirupati trip is the festival calendar. Unless there is any particular reason to visit during a special occasion or religious festival, avoid major Hindu festivals like Ganesh Chaturthi, Ugadi, Sankranti, Kartik Purnima, and Diwali. Although the temple celebrates these festivals in a grand style and is worth witnessing, there might be a shortage of stay or travel options or they would be very steep during these peak times.
Before you travel, you can visit the temple community website and book a VIP darshan, to skip the long queues and get relatively easier access to the shrine. Online booking can be done at least one day in advance or maximum before 14 days.
Where to stay
The Tirupati Temple community offers onsite accommodation options for pilgrims and tourists. You can check with the temple authorities or book online. It is better to book your accommodation at least a month in advance, for better availability. Alternatively, you can also opt for local hotels and guest houses near the temple, which can range from budget to premium options. Whether you are staying onsite or making a day trip, you can stop by the Tarigonda Vengamamba Annaprasadam complex, within the temple for a free meal.
What not to miss
While your focus would be on getting the best darshan and making your trip worthwhile, don’t miss the experience of the temple. The ancient stone structure is an architectural marvel, with the fine carvings on the exteriors, interiors, and the towers, and reflects the classic Dravidian style of art.
Also known as the Suprabatham, this ritual is done very early in the morning when the deities are bathed and dressed in the royal garbs. You can witness this fascinating ceremony by booking your tickets in advance.
The holy meal
The prasadam is said to be the best at the Tirupati temple. Apart from that, the temple kitchen prepares a big spread of meal which is offered to the gods every day and then laid out for the devotees to savor. Don’t miss the enormous laddu, which is a specialty of this temple and the most popular one.
The incessant crowd, the chanting of the priests echoing through the halls, and the powerful energy of the place, conjures up a surreal atmosphere. You might find it chaotic at a first glance, but as you spend some time, you will derive peace and warmth amidst the chaos.