On a whimsical desire to make the most of my weekend, a solo trip to Tirupati was planned. It wasn’t meant to be a journey to find myself, or connect with my soul, but was borne out of a wish to visit a spiritual place and revel in my own company.
As a teenage kid, I was taken on several religious trips by my parents and truth be told, I didn’t feel remotely enthusiastic about any of them. But as an adult, with the cumulative ‘motivation’ of my parents and a free weekend, Tirupati was calling out to me.
Did you know that the word ‘Tirupati’ literally translates to the sacred abode of Vishnu? Nestled in the foothills of Tirumala Hills in the Eastern Ghats, Tirupati is as serene as a dew drop on a blade of grass. Perhaps the Gods knew what they were doing.
Day 1 – Visiting the Dwelling of Lord Balaji
On my first day, I visited the oldest and the most famous temple there – the Sri Venkateswara Swami Temple.
Did You Know: The Sri Ventakeswara Swami Temple is the wealthiest temple in the world in terms of donations and money received.
As an age-old custom, many pilgrims shave their head. The inner temple of the Ananda Nilayam houses the main deity. A gold crown atop his head, a thick tilaka on his forehead, ears decorated with earrings of gold and body dressed with yellow robes – the Lord was truly a vision of magnificence.
After the darshan, worshippers are given the Tirupati Laddu a prasadam (religious offering given to the devotees) made of flour, cashews, cardamom, ghee, sugar and raisins, craved by devotees all over the country.
Day 2 – Marvelling the Gigantic Gopuram
The next day, my travails took me to the Govindraja Temple. Constructed in the 12th century, Govindraja Temple was built in the honour of Sri Venkateswara’s elder brother, Govindrajaswamy. Both brothers are a reincarnation of Lord Vishnu.
The chief attraction of the temple is the impressive Gopuram, the large pyramidal tower, with intricate carvings, that stands tall at the entrance. The two-week long Chittirai festival is held in this temple during the Tamil month of Chittirai (March-April) which celebrates the marriage of Goddess Meenakshi and Lord Sundareswarar.
Day 3 – The Serene Waters
My third day involved a visit to the Kapila Teertham temple. It is the only temple dedicated to Lord Shiva in Tirupati. At the entrance stands a huge statue of Nandi, Lord Shiva’s steed. The most alluring part of this temple, however, is the waterfall that is right in the middle of the temple.
I visited the tranquil Padmavati Temple, which is dedicated to Goddess Lakshmi. It is said by many that a trip to Tirupati is incomplete without a visit to the Padmavati Temple. The most well-known part of this complex is the Padmasarovaram (the lake of the lotus). Legend has it that this lake was the place where the Goddess appeared as a golden lotus.
A trip to Tirupati is highly recommended for those seeking inner peace and tranquility from the hub-bub of city life. With a calming sense of spirituality hanging in the air, this peaceful town will permeate through your defenses and revitalize your soul, whilst gently cradling you in its arms.