Tirupathi, the abode of Lord Srinivasa/ Venkatesa/Balaji - an incarnation of one among the Hindu Trinity Mahavishnu – is literally a heaven on earth not merely for Hindus but for all those who believe and surrender in Him. People throng the hilly shrine in lakhs each day throughout the year. Ranked the richest in the world, this temple is abuzz with unimaginable crowd always, for a glimpse of God. One need to have immense patience to stand in long queues even after buying a Special Darshan ticket. But the wait is worth it. Physical and mental stress we beget going through the whole process disappears as we inch towards the sanctum sanctorum for a look at Him even for fraction of a second. With all the precious jewellery adorning the idol, a turn to right or left, colourful prismy reflections fall on us as if He is directly blessing us. This is enough for a staunch devotee who contends having a deep dip in the divine affection and benevolence. What else one can ask for?. I run short of words to explain the ecstasy his Bhaktas enjoy here.
I have visited the place many a times earlier, but the recent one (last September), with my and my friend’s family was memorable. We reached the place by train (a one-night journey), got into the pre-booked hotel, refreshed ourselves with bath and ‘breakfast’ and started off. As Darshan was scheduled for 2 PM slot atop the hill, we first went to Mangapura, the shrine of mother goddess Padmavati (Mahalaxmi), a 4 km distance from the proper town; had darshan there by 11.30 and got back to Tirupathi again to board a TTD bus to reach the hill. By one, we were at the hill top, said to comprise seven hills and therefore aptly named ‘Sapthagiri’, and rushed straight to Varahaswamy temple on the lake bed corner – Varaha Swamy is said to have given place for Lord Srinivasa’s stay; so it has turned out to be a not-to-miss place while at Tirupathi. We had a flying darshan here and ran to the Seva Counter at the main temple fast as we could, surrendered the tickets and joined the queue. By the time we entered the main door, it was 3.30. It is here the queue moves at snail’s place. Chorus chants of ‘Govinda Govinda’ fill the air. Devotees go frenzy with each step while approaching the main shrine. As I said, the experience and feeling is inexplicable. A look at the deity makes us forget all wordly things. Souls filled with utmost devotion and total submission to the Almighty, we moved slowly towards the exit door, where each one is given a small piece of ‘Laddu’ free. Once fully out of the temple precincts, we approached the Laddu counter to the right of the lake, collected 2 additional laddus each on surrendering the Darshan tickets and then made our way to the temple choultry to fill our belly with free meals provided by the temple management everyday. Quite tasty and sumptuous it was.
Had to no time to visit the ISKCON temple nearby. But squeezed in some time to visit the Govindarajaswamy temple at the foothill town. The main idol here, is in a sleeping posture, a la Srirangapatna (Karnataka) and Srirangam (Tamilnadu). It is said that this deity was asked to measure the temple offerings of Srinivasa (at the hill), for repaying to Lord Kubera from whom Lord Srinivasa had taken loan to marry mother Padmavati. Tired of the job, he attained this posture, it is believed. Anyway, with our minds full of satisfaction and content, we boarded the train next noon for the return journey.