13 odd worshipers got together to find solace in the abode of Lord Venkateswara on 23rd Feb 2008. For the trekkers this trip came as a 2-in-1 pack. The unusual zeal for trekking and the motivation to meet the Lord at Tirumala drove all the 13 pilgrims cum trekkers towards Tirumala on 2 bikes and one Scorpio.
At 5:00AM all started from Thoraipakkam and met at Koyambedu and moved on towards the national highway 5. Immediately after the first toll gate we took left to catch the scenic way to Tirupati.
On the way from Chennai to Tirupati we paused at a 5 star mid-way restaurant to have our breakfast. With a staff of world quality chefs and waiters to show their skills on us, we completed our breakfast and moved on. The sun was about to show its rising beauty and moving from twists and turns we reached a point which caught our attention.
Sun rise point, that was our first pit stop. As Sreedhar continuously took photos by sitting in the front seat of the car, we decided to stop here to capture the beauty of the early sun. After some kilometers from this point we reached a place where our attention was caught by a sun flower field.
We had a face to face encounter with the sun’s smaller little counterparts on earthly heaven. The sunflower field was so beautiful that we could not resist taking an extensive shooting session.
I think we took the best photos of our entire trek, all of ours cameras were flashing continuously as if we were capturing every flower in the field. The farmers were friendly, so we didn’t find any problem or objection to our photo session. Everybody seemed to have taken photos for their marriage proposals from here only.
We continued our journey by exchanging bikes and at least before the sun got too hot we reached Tirupati. There was large parking spot for the vehicles near the Alipiri bus stand. This is the best place to leave your vehicle at Tirupati if you want to walk to Tirumala by steps. It’s also a safe paid parking place. We left our car and bikes there and started walking up the hill at around 10:30
The picturesque Tirumala hills are situated at 2820 ft above MSL and are about 100sq.m in area. It comprises seven peaks, representing the seven hoods of Audisesha, thus earning the name Seshachalam.
The seven peaks are called Seshadri, Vedadri, Garudadri, Anjandri, Vrishabhadri, Narayandri and Venkatadri (Adri in sanskrit means Hill). The Venkatam hill is believed to be a part of the celestial mount meru, brought to the earth from Vaikuntam by Garuda. The sacred temple of Sri Venkateswara is located on the seventh peak, Venkatdri and there are several legends associated with the manifestation of the lord in Tirumala. The shrine of the lord is very ancient and there are ample references to it in the early inscriptions belonging to the Chola and Pallava periods as well in the Sangam literature.
The abode of the lord is about 10 Km north-west of Tirupati and there are footsteps leading to the hill as well as two separate serpentine roads to reach the shrine. According to legend, God Vishnu revealed himself earlier in the previous incarnations as Varahaswamy on the banks of the present temple tank. This manifestation of the white boar (Sveta Varaham) is enshrined in the Adi Varahaswany temple situated on the northeastern banks of the tank. We took the footsteps way up towards the temple which was around 9KM walk over 3550 steps.
First 2200 steps were continuous and very tough. We reached the intermediate (or resting point) in 45 mins. The place is called Gaali Gopuram. It is very beautiful to see Tirupati from there. We took a very long rest and started walking towards Tirumala. After 2200 steps it is very easy to climb, I should say we were walking on a flat surface until “Mokaalla Parvatham”. The name given to this hill is because it will be very slant to climb. Lord Balaji will be waiting for you there. Normally people can climb in 3 hrs if they go slowly but we didn’t want to hurry up so we took our time to reach to the top. We reached to the top by 1500 Hrs.
We split up into two groups and went to refill our stomachs, one batch went to ANNAMAYYA hotel and another to WOODLANDS. Both the places are good to eat. Our rooms were in Ram Bhagicha Cottages. We reached the guest house, freshened up, hired jeeps and drove to Sila Thoranam (Natural Stone Arch) and Srivaari Paadhaal (it is believed that swamy kept his first step on this seven hills at this place). Despite of the history we found a good Tirumala view and beautiful sceneries from here. This was the place I was waiting to visit for so many days.
We enjoyed our sun set at Silathoranam. It was a relaxing and scenic place and Peter was not willing to come out of the place at all. We started from Sila Thoranam after sunset and reached our cottage by 1930 Hrs. Local jeep taxis charge 30Rs per head to show these places, this is the better option because no buses are going there, and it will take long time to reach SriVaari Paadhaalu.
Our Darsanam time was at 2100Hrs. So we hardly took rest. Got freshen up and we went to Dharsan, while Peter and Markus stayed back in room playing Uno. It took around 1 hr 30 mins to finish our Dharshan. We collected ladoos and reached the cottage after having our dinner. It was very refreshing to stay at the front of the temple that too at night.
So the four of us (Sreedhar, Naresh, Sateesh and Manohar) decided to go back and enjoy the beauty of the temple at night and capture it with our cameras. After the session we went back to the cottage to sleep. We were so tired we didn’t even got up until 0800 Hrs next day morning. (Our plan was to get up early morning and go to sight seeing.)
All of us took bath and got ready by 0900 Hrs and started towards Paapavinaasanam and Aakaasa Ganga in two seperate Tata Sumos. We also went to the windmill generators which was amazing place to see. Don’t forget to go there if you visit Tirumala.
At Paapa Vinaasanam Dam after crossing the Dam if we go 3 Kms inside you will encounter some good water falls. We tried getting permission for that but the security guard there told that we need to take permission from the EGO office at tirumala. So we dropped that plan and went back to Tirumala and saw the windmills on the way. From the dam at Kumaara Dhaara Theertham is 3.5Kms and Pasupu Dhaara Theertham is 2 Kms.
After this we returned directly to Tirupati by bus from Tirumala. We got down at Alipiri and took back our vehicles from the parking spot and drove towards Venkatagiri where Chenchu had invited us to his house for lunch. Venkatagiri is famous for its sarees. We took the Sri kaalahasti road and took a diversion at Yerpaadu to reach venkatagiri.
We started at Tirupati by 1200 Hrs and we reached Chenchu’s place by 1315Hrs. It was a nice ride with hot sun and paddy fields on both sides of the road. The lunch prepared was amazing – Chenchu’s family served us at least 10 different dishes, including both non-veg and veg. An unforgettable experience of unlimited hospitality.
We started from Chenchu’s house around 1615Hrs and drove towards Naidupeta, when we encountered a large lake along the way. As it was a hot afternoon we decided to stop by the lake and some of us took a dip. We walked inside the lake for around 100m to reach a spot where the water was less shallow and we could take a dip.
After relaxing in the water, we resumed our road and reached Naidupetta around 6 o’clock. From there our jounrey was continuous to Chennai except one stop to capture the breath taking sunset at a toll gate. We reached to our office by 2030 Hrs.