Sunday, October 07, 2007

Travel to Tirupati from Chennai

Going for Lord Balaji Darshan always gives me a lot of strength, inspiration and peace of mind. The whole experience is very rejuvenating and grand.
I have earlier written on travel to Tirupati from Bangalore and I get quite a no. of response for that travelogue. I feel privileged to write on Tirupati travel and my post is on travel guidelines for Tirupati from Chennai.
There are ITDC, Tamilnadu Tourism, AP tourism and many private operator buses operating from Chennai. I have recently not traveled from private operators buses, but have heard from people that the ITDC, Tamilnadu Tourism, AP tourism are the best tour operators.
I collected info. on ITDC and APTDC and found their package as very good. To book an ITDC ticket, you need to book it at least 1-2 weeks in advance, as there is huge rush in ITDC. The ticket cost is Rs 950 and it starts at 5 am in the morning and returns to Chennai by 9.30 pm the same day.
I was not able to get the ITDC package and hence tried for AP tourism package. AP tourism package can be get in 2-3 days advance, if there is not any special occasion like Braham Mahotsav in month of September or any other special occasion.
There are 2 packages in APTDC: Rs. 850 package which starts in the morning 5 am and returns Chennai the same day by 9.30 pm. This package includes the breakfast and lunch in AP tourism restaurant.
The other package is Rs 1100, which starts at 6.45 pm in the evening and returns to Chennai the next day by 5 pm. The highlight of this package is that you can get Lord Balaji Darshan in morning hours (between 5-6 am) during the aarti. I has taken the Rs 1100 package and felt really good on having the Darshan during the aarti with lots of bells ringing, the priest chanting the holy mantra and the joy of having the Darshan as the first activity in the morning.
I traveled on 3rd of October 2007. My bus started from AP tourism office, T.Nagar , Chennai at 6.45 pm. The bus reached an AP tourism place by around 10 pm in the night. It stops at this place for the devotees to take their dinner. After around half an hour, the bus will start again and reach the AP tourism guest house by around 11.30 pm. This particular package includes accommodation in the guest house from 11.30 pm to 3.30 am.
The guest house is decent in terms of facilities and comfort. The accommodation is provided on a group basis, like if 2-3 people are traveling together, then they will get one room.
I was traveling alone, so I was sharing the room with another person, Rahul from Mumbai. But, with a single objective in mind of having the Darshan, a stranger doesn’t feel like strangers and devotees feel comfortable in sharing the room. The room is only for 4 hours, so its basically for taking some rest and getting fresh before the Darshan.
By 4.00 am we started again by a local AP tourism state bus, as the Volvos are not allowed on the hills. It takes around 1 hr to reach the temple. The tour guide, Mr. Reddy was very helpful and he explained us about having the Darshan. They have a fix place where you can keep all your belongings like cell phone, slippers etc and its very safe.
We started in the queue by around 5.15 am and it took around 1.30 hours to have the Darshan. After having, the Darshan, we came back the place where we kept our belongings. Then the laddus are distributed to the devotees. The package includes 2 laddus for each devotee; however one can take extra laddu by paying additional money which is around 55 Rs per laddu.
After the Darshan , is done the same bus returns back to the Guest house for having the breakfast. We had our breakfast and then started again by Volvo by around 9 am for visit to Padmavati temple and Kalahasti temple. The visit to this temple was completed by around 12 noon , and after that the bus started its journey back to Chennai. By around 1 pm , we reached the same place where last night he has stopped for the dinner. The passenger can take their lunch at this place. The bus finally reached Chennai by 5 pm in the evening.
The contact no. for AP tourism is 044-65439987 and the office is in Burkit Road, T.Nagar near Canara Bank. I don’t have the ITDC no. now, but you can get it by calling Chennai info at 044-24444444.
The whole journey is comfortable with good roads and nice facilities. And , whatever liitle pain is there , it gets over and transformed into joy after having the Darshan of Lord Balaji.
Please, feel free for any other info. on it and your valuable comments are always welcome.
I would also like to Thank Aditi, whom I have never met, but she was the one who asked me about info. on traveling from Chennai to Tirupati and is one of the motivating force behind writing this article.
Happy Darshan to everyone and may Lord Balaji bless all of us.