Where to stay in Tirupathi?
No dearth of hotels but trusted proven ones are Bhimas & Fortune Kences (ITC). There are numerous Bhima’s so be careful while booking – some are good and some are not so good. (Avoid Bhima Deluxe near the Railway Station) The recommended one is Bhima Residency (Near Railway Over Bridge, Renigunta Road – 0877 – 6455371, 6455372) – Centrally located , easy to locate, good food. Rooms are about 2K / night. The Fortune Kences is located 200 m ahead – but rates can vary from 2500 – 3500/ night. Point to Note is that Bhima Residency does not come up on Makemytrip search – the Other Bhima’s do. However food at Bhima is the best – the Bhima Residency is a 5 min walk from Fortune Kences and we went there for all our meals.
How much Time does it take to reach the Temple from the hotel?
The temple is in Tirumala – thats on top of a hill about 1000 feet. It takes about 10 min to travel to Alipiri – the main gate to the hill, get security cheque done (Budget 30 Min+) and then another 20 – 25 min to reach the hill top – Tirumala. The road up the hill is broad & safe and one way – cars coming down are on another track. It however has many U Pin bends (Over 20) . Regular buses also ply to the temple top – the bus stand is located opp to Fortune Kences.
Keep the receipt given to you when you enter Alipiri – this will be asked many times. When driving don’t speed – they track the time taken by you to reach – and if you go well within that you may be fined.
How do you walk up the Hill ? How much time does it take ?
There are 2 routes – the 1st set of steps start from near Alipiri ( the place where the cars drive up) – this is a long walk 3 – 4 hrs and covers 7 hills – hill 1 is the steepest and so is hill 7 , the rest are an easy walk. All along the walk are shops selling water & snacks. This route has a total of 4000 steps.
The second route was opened a few years back (Srivari Mettu) this is on the backside of the hill. Its a 20 Km drive from Alipiri to reach this place. The climb is shorter 60 – 70 Min at a brisk pace and is not difficult. Has about 2400 steps. Clean track – no shops , not crowded.
Both the walking route at the halfway mark there is a ticket counter – where they take your photo and give you a Ticket. You can climb with your shoes and carry your cell phone – carry some biscuits , dry fruits , juice…. in your backpack.
Can I manage to get a ticket / VIP Darshan / Special Q by paying money on the spot?
Fortunately no – there is no black-marketing and money can’t buy you a ticket. There are no touts – no jugad in the last minute. Every ticket has you photo (earlier fingerprint) so you can’t beat the system – there are 3 levels of check. So if you have not planned – the only option is the free darshan Q.
Whats the Waiting Time and which are the best days to travel?
Tirupathi is never empty – its crowded or very crowded. ( Low Crowd is 50K / day – peak Crowd is 5 Lacs / day) Basis multiple options I have finally discovered that the best day to travel is Thu. Choose non peak season – Clearly avoid Vaikunt Ekadasi, Navratri. Good time to travel is immediately after school holidays, after a grand function etc. If you can travel on Diwali the crowd is light. Wait time depends on how blessed you are and can take anywhere from 60 minutes to 10 hrs. ( I have been lucky – in my 30+ trips mostly on Thu mornings the wait time has been 60 – 120 Minutes)
Are there special Q’s for the Old and Babies ?
Yes there is a time slot reserved for the Old , Disabled and for parents with new born babies – This is in the afternoon – check the TTD website for details.
Whats the central point in the Hill Top?
There are multiple Q’s and almost all the entry points are around a place called Vaikuntam ( Old Vijaya Bank)
What is not allowed inside the temple?
Cell Phones, Cameras, Belts not allowed. Good to leave in car. If you are carrying Cash – carry it in a cloth bag. The temple has lockers but avoidable.
How bad is the Q?
The Q’s are chock a block – there are multiple Q’s and they all merge near the main temple. 6 – 9AM in the morning is the time for VIP Darshan , Special Tickets etc hence most Q’s operate only after 9 AM. Crowd is mainly rural.
Pointers in Q when you are pushed ?
Be careful of the floor – steps suddenly come , there are some places where there is water leaking , be alert so that you don’t fall or twist your leg. Once you enter its almost impossible to get out of the Q as its barricaded.
How much Darshan Time do you get?
The last leg of the Q in front of Balaji is about 25 M long. You can start seeing Balaji the minute you take this left turn. Try and stick to the right side of the Q to get a few precious seconds more of Darshan. In all you can get a darshan for a max of 1 Min – before you are pushed out. There will be ushers inside shouting “Jaracandi Jaracandi” which in telugu means move – some even push you out forcefully. After you come out you visit the Hundi – and then on the way out collect the prasad and come out.
Where do you get the famous Laddu’s?
Normal tickets are entitled to 2 Laddu’s each. Most days you don’t get extra laddus. On some days when the crowd is less you can pay and get extra laddus by paying Extra. The laddu counter is in a separate building. During summer as you walk in the temple complex towards the Laddu Centre and Back – the ground can be scalding hot, keep a pair of socks to protect your feet.
Is the Place Clean ?
Tirumala is very well maintained – there are dustbins all over , the gardens are well landscaped. Given the crowd I would give them a 10/10 on cleanliness.
Any other interesting things in Tirupathi to note ?
Most Special darshan tickets like Vasantutsav/ Kalyanutsav etc where you enter from the Vaikuntam entrance mandate that you wear Dhoti / Saree / Kurta . Pls check the back side of your ticket
There is accommodation on the Hill Top – most of these are very ordinary, however some business houses have set up 5 star guest houses. You need contacts to be able to use these.
Food on top is OK. Mayuri was a good choice many years back – now the quality is poor , best bet for fine dining now is Saarangi – this is a 5 min drive from the Vaikuntam entrance.