Saturday, 2 October 2010

Going uphill , the darshan and more .. From the hills of holyness - Tirupathi (Part 3)

We planned to get up early morning by 4 am, but eventually after a long journey the day before we comfortably slept until five and started from the hotel to the Tirumala temple around 6 30am .. Before ascending the hill, the vehicles were checked in the toll gate and the luggages carried were scanned as well and was marked using a nama katti (more like a white chalk) which made us think how did it really matter..

The journey uphill started from the toll gate and it took us close to 45 mins to reach the hill top near the Tirumala temple. The ride along the paves was serene and beautiful, the cold breeze passing through your face made it a refreshing start for the day.. Nature is truly beautiful when taken care of ..

On reaching uphill we dined at the Mathura restaurant for a quick breakfast of steaming Idli, dosa, pongal and vada ( The vada s were crispy and soft - Delicious!)

After getting our quick darshan tickets which costed about Rs.300 per person , at around 8 30 am we headed to join the devotees waiting in the queue .. On joining the queue I was surprised to see people selling breakfast .. juices .. biscuits and lays .. to keep the devotees from starving , for it takes hours to have a peek at Lord Venkatachalapathy. It took us four hours . I remember the last couple of times we were at Tirupathi we had got some special Darshan tickets, in which case we were at the temple either early in the morning at 4 or in the evening at 6 30 and didnt have to wait this long in the queue.

The time waiting in the queue was well spent people watching.. Finally at around 11 30 am we were out of the temple after the darshan and collection of the famous Tirpathi ladu (prasadam).. After spending close to an hour of window shopping along the streets adjoining the temple. We took the journey downhill to reach our hotel, and then on lunch and leave back to Chennai.

On the trip down hill I came across groups of people walking up the hill for the Darshan and heard stories from my parents about the same and how few generations ago people from my native made visit to Tirupathi is Bullock carts and how they exchanged the bullocks with known families mid way and collect their animals back on their return trip.. Interesting I thought, but would have taken them ages to complete the journey .. a mammoth task it would have been.

Looked like there were quite a bit of wild animals in the forests surrounding the temple, which I came to know from the boards placed along the road down hill. We came across a herd of deers fenced and there was a guy selling cucumber and carrots which one can buy to feed the deers .. We got one box of them first , the more I fed the more I wanted to .. so ended up getting another one .. the deers were so friendly .. thinking about them even now brings a smile in my face.

We vacated from our hotel and I had this innate urge to taste some authentic andhra food before heading back home.. After a bit of discussion we decided on dining at Fortune Kences .. This place is not known for its authentic andhra food thou' it had most of the items in its buffet spread.

After a heavy lunch, with my stomach full and even contended heart .. we made our journey back to Chennai :)

I now see Thirumala to be more of a hill station than a pilgrimage spot, it could turn out to be a weekend getaway or a budget holiday for those of them in and around Chennai.

Saturday, 25 September 2010

From the hills of holyness - Tirupathi (Part 2 )

We reached Tirupathi on Saturday evening and decided on making the uphill journey happen the next day morning, due to lack of time and because of the heavy traffic that we saw on the road leading atop the hill.

We booked a room at Hotel Bhimas Residency for that nights stay. After spending close to half an hour refreshing ourselves, resting a little and clicking pics of the view from the room , we decided on heading to the Padmavathi temple which was approximately a 15 minute drive from our place. This temple is situated in a place called Thiruchanoor/Alamelumangapuram.

We reached the temple at around 7pm. After close to twenty minutes of waiting had a good darshan. One very annoying thing was that they had a continuous recording being played asking the devotees to take care of their belonging like they do in exhibitions and and other fairs which to me did not give the fulfillment of being in a temple.

To pacify all this I was super happy when I saw ladus being given as prasadam in this temple as well, like that in the thirumala temple. After having some ladus and packing the rest to share it with family and friends back home , I saw a group of people having some different kind of Prasadam and then it was time to go collect ours as well and this time it was some delicious hot pongal being served in cups made of dried leaf (thonai). I have always liked prasadam s given at temples right from the time I was a kid.

Once out of the temple, the small shops adjoining the temple selling accessories, toys, and stuffs that are unique to the place always adds on to my entertainment quotient be it in any place, so the next half an hour we spent walking around the streets around the temple.

For dinner we headed back to the hotel where we had booked to stay for the night. I remember even during our last trip to Tirupathi we had stayed at Bhimas Residency - nothing very special about the place, a good not so expensive place with all basic necessities.

(My next post on the trip uphill and darshan at the Tirumala temple is coming soon )

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

From the hills of holyness - Tirupathi (Part 1)

It was during one of the weekends we decided to make the long pending Tirupathi trip materialize. It was a bright Saturday afternoon when mom, dad and I started from Chennai to Tirupathi. It is a five hour long journey by road and we had booked a cab, so that we could just sit back and relax and enjoy as we travel past the green fields and mountains.

It gladly turned out to be less sunny in a few minutes from the time we started the trip and was even better when it started drizzling.. It took us close to three hours to get across the TamilNadu border, before which we took a small break for snacking alongside the last high way restaurant (Hotel Kasi) that we found after which hardly any caught our sight until we reached the town on Tirupathi. The food here was so yum, probably I was very hungry ( will make yet another post ans link it here for those of you who would like to know more about the restaurant).

It was an unusually large eat out for a restaurant along side the highway which served varied cuisines and also had other small shops where I also got the top up done for my mobile phone. We had some hot samosas with delicious chutneys and some masala chai as well.. Perfectly suited the weather and the relaxed weekend we were living.

Few hours on the road and I kept myself busy clicking pics of the green fields and mountains I came across and also munching on the boiled ground nuts that we got near the Tamil Nadu - Andhra junction.

After which I saw jalebi like words on bill boards and advertisements in shops, now I know I am in Andhra and few kilometers away from Tirupathi.

On reaching Tirupathi by around six in the evening, our driver suggested we visit the Tirumala temple in the evening as it would be less crowded than making a visit to the temple tomorrow morning, but looking at the huge flow of traffic uphill we decided to keep the temple visit for the morning just like the way we had initially planned.

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

Travel offers

My vacation is around the corner, in fact a real long one this time which might even last for over a month .. There are a number of trips being planned .. one with family and the other with a bunch of friends from university.

These trips are indeed the fun part of my holidays always and if you get an offer in your travel ticket or accommodation or food, it just is the icing on the cake .. This is exactly what Orbitz do. Orbitz is a leading online travel company which offers great deals with their orbitz coupon to travelers of all kinds .. leisure, business etc. making the whole experience lighter on your pocket.

Orbitz coupons are available for hotels across various categories and travel tickets, across many locations.These coupons are valid for a particular period of time, so I suggest you use them to your benefit soon and that's not all , the website gets loaded with new offer coupons almost everyday. I'm sure this would be a great way to celebrate the holiday spirit in a fun way.

Thursday, 1 April 2010

Up close and personal with the elephants

This was my first up close and personal encounter with elephants. Never before have I seen so many elephants of different sizes around me. There were almost couple of dozens of them. It was at the Dubare elephant camp at Coorg.

This place was the highlight of our trip to Coorg during the summer of 2005. Since its almost 5 years now, I will try my best to recollect as much possible.

We were at Dubare by around 9am - we made sure we were there on time as we were told we could feed the elephants breakfast if we make it there on time. So, we didnt want to miss the opportunity.

We were dropped at a place which was seperated from Dubare by river cauvery, we took a steam boat to reach the elephant camp. As our boat moved closer to Dubare we passed elephants bathing in the river - the visitors were allowed to bath the elephants too and to our surprise there was a huge queue to lay their hands on the elephant. I was scared then, but was excited to take a pic of my dad bathing the elephant.

The Dubare elephant camp is home to around 150 elephants and we were explained in detail about the elephant's activities and their behaviour in detail. (I will try uploading the video of it, if possible)

Visitors were also allowed to feed the elephants with huge balls made out of rice and various other substances that was provided at the camp. One can also take a ride onto the jungle on the elephant with the mahout accompanying you. Though we didnt opt to do this, I heard it completes the trip to Dubare. There also is a water rafting place very close to Dubare.


I was told that it is better to run downhill rather than going uphill in cases when being chased by an elephant.

I would like to hear your experiences at Dubare as well. I could recollect a handful of info since it had been a real long time. I hope the pictures suffice to it.