Tirupati : A Solo Tour to Lord Vishnu's Grandeur
13TH Of Jan :
And so, begins my one-day long Journey to Tirumala Tirupati. I would describe this journey as more of an experience rather than a spiritual trip. This was a one-man tour. For the first time in my life I was travelling to a place that I never visited before in my life. I am the kind of a person who never even went out on his own to a neighboring district alone! Yeah that’s right. Something was going on in my mind that even to this date makes me wonder that how come I got this idea to travel solo to Tirupati? Without any help from my Friends nor my Family.
I always wanted to try something unique in my life that I never imagined.
You can call it something unplanned. The cause that drove me to take this step was one article which I had curiously read. Stated as “Ten things to do before you die”. Amongst those 10 things was my point which said “VISIT SOME NEW PLACE ON YOUR OWN”. I then made up my mind to visit Tirumala without even giving a second thought and I bought my train tickets for 12th Jan.
Friday was the day. 3:45 pm I boarded the Kanyakumari Express and it took me exact one day to reach Tirupati. My train journey was very comforting and I met a family who guided me for Tirupati. Coincidentally his name was Balaji Raju. He was along with his wife and four years old son. Travelling alone is beneficial as in you get to know your abilities and capabilities and you become independent traveler. My parents were not agreeing but I convinced them and promised them, I will return as a virtually changed person more confident.
In the midst of my journey …
I was having too many questions popping up in my mind. ‘How will I complete this trip?’, ‘Have I done the right thing by going solo?’, ‘Where will I rest once I arrive at Tirumala?’. These questions didn’t lead me doubt my faith. On the way i met a group of young travelers who boarded the train from Pune at 8 pm. They shared their work and life experience with me and we became good friends.
Ironically Balaji’s family and the friends group both were on their way to Tirupati which gave me some sort of confidence as it would make easy for me to pass my time all the way to Tirumala. The night passed and early morning at 6 am the train halted at Mantralaya Station which is known for its graphite hills located all over, one glimpse of it was marvelous. Natural formation of graphite was pretty much awe gazing.
A peculiar incident took place with me as a pack of monkeys who were hocking around the halted train gained its attention. Two of them came towards me and tried to grab my cellphone but at that moment I fooled them by instead handing a pack of biscuit. They took the pack and went back. Many people discouraged me, said I had come during wrong season (Pongal and Makar Sankranti) and I won’t even get to place my foot in the temple neither will I get any accommodation.
DAY 2 : प्रतीक्षा (Waiting)
14TH Of Jan 2018.
After 19 hours of journey, I arrived Tirupati my destination at 4pm. Balaji Raju said ,’You will find the TTD bus here and it will drop you on the foot hill of Tirumala, where you will get all the info and help related to accommodation and darshan at the TTD seva office’ I followed as he said and reached the foot hill, but got into a small trouble when I got up on the Free Bus and roamed the Tirumala Complex for approx. 1 hour not knowing where to get down.
At 5pm I received my first lead when I contacted the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams seva office. A heavy build middle aged mustached man said, ‘You won’t get any accommodation and seva as all the services are 2 months advance booked so head back!’. I felt like I was in some other country where I was being eaten up by its bureaucracy and departmental stuff.
I got broke as there was no reliable source to guide me strangled between a crowd of one lakh devotees with no hopes to get even a small piece of rug to sleep☹. For almost an hour I was wandering in search of a room with two bags and I really felt that I should have not taken up this lone trouble. I should have listened to my Parents. I had to find a way out now.
Then I landed at Kashi math…
In the Tirumala Tirumala Complex at 6pm. This is a revered math of Konkanis. Mr. Shenoy manages the math. He said, ‘We don’t give room to singles’ he meant it. After some insisting he said, ’Ok fine, check on the third floor if you get any empty spot place your rug and I will allow you 2 nights’. At the moment my faith to take the darshan boosted. I felt powered.
On the 3rd floor a person named Pai was resting. I asked him for some advice relating to the Seva que. He said, ‘There is one way to get darshan today itself, it’s the Free seva que but it’s very hectic’. Free seva line took too long to progress as on that day P. Chandrababu Naidu C.M of Andhra Pradesh was the chief guest and he had a large cavalcade with him. It would take at least 5 plus hours for me to get darshan.
I placed both the bags in the locker room of the math and took with me my needy phone, some cash and a light side bag. I came down the math and started walking towards the Free seva que, once I reached I got to know from the volunteers that the seva line was closed.
Disheartened, I sat on the bench of the Banyan tree outside the Vaikuntha temple in the complex. Morally down and loosing all hopes, I lowered my head and felt like now I have no other option left than to return to math. Within seconds an anonymous man came hopingly towards me with a shaved head and a barefoot, he said nothing and went by. For a while I forgot all the sadness and grieve when I saw him heading towards the Free line.
I got energized and I asked him, ‘Mate, I was said all lines are closed so now you cannot go there’. He then said, ‘No dear, the que is still active, you just follow me’. This one line fueled my confidence and I followed him all through the end of the line. I felt that God had send him to particularly help me. This man had some kind of attention grabbing ability which catched my eye and made me follow him.
“Yes, there is always a way no matter how hard the situation is.”
While in the que he was surprised, ‘You are lucky, you will be getting four ladoos for 70 rupees but me, I am getting only one ladoo for 50 rupees’. I felt bad for him but later when I questioned people about this 50 rs ladoo, they said there was no such offer and it was a hoax. Viresh the shaved head guy, helped me to reach the Entry gate of the Balaji Temple.
Something weird happened at the entrance gate, the security guard dashed Viresh out of the que on the conviction that he is drunk. I was shocked to see this as the whole time I was with him I did not notice smell of alcohol. It was an unexpected thing that just happened out of nowhere.
Viresh chuckled and said, ‘Rishi, my work is completed, now you should finish your work and take the Darshan. WILL MEET YOU INSIDE. Bye’.
Concluding with these words with a destined smile he took a leave. This proved that god is always present in some or the other form and that day I realized, all those hardships I faced throughout were all being observed by god and are about to be paid off.
He is the ultimate watcher who brings the ultimate twist to one’s life when all hopes are lost. Inside the Tirumala Complex I did a lot of stuff to pass my time out. I spent a total of 10 hour in the holding halls of the temple from 7pm to 5am with fellow mates, made some amazing friends (a trekking group from Chennai and a telegu family from Vizag), met a Dinesh Yadav aka the Sadhuji from Bhivandi, had two cups of tea at some intervals.
DAY 3 : समाप्ति (Accomplishment)
15th of Jan 2018.
It was 3 am and I was about to close my eyes and head for a nap, but god didn’t want me to sleep yet, the holding cells were opened for the que to progress to the main Sanctum. With my shorts and a light bag, I freakingly faced the cold air slicing the guts out of me on the marble floor of the holding hall. While others present there, had prepared themselves with all the required provisions such as the hoodie, rugs and even matrices. The holding halls were literally converted to sleeping halls. The halls had around 500 devotees each locked within’.
‘Govinda, Govinda, Govinda!’
loudly cheered the all mighty’s devotees. I too cheered to energize myself. ‘Yay Govinda’. 3:30-4:30pm saw a critical time as scout/guide and NCC corps were summoned to keep a check on the que as we were heading towards the final lap of the darshan. Now came the most awaited moment, I along with all devotees entered the main sanctum of the temple at 5am, ‘Hail Govinda’ cheered the devotees. My eyes gazed at the magnificent temple structure made up of gold, carved with exquisite care and I felt I was the most fortunate soul. Sun rays complemented the glittering gold of the temple.
Entering the temple, I witnessed the statue of Lord Vishnu with all its Charm and Stature. My Darshan was now accomplished.
I came out of the temple, had some tea and then I viewed the sun ascending from the horizon of the Tirumala hill and the darkness that enveloped the whole hill slowly descended on the western side, in a minute the whole Tirumala hill was lighted up with bright morning sun. It was a delight to glimpse this nature.
Special Mention :- Thanks to the Free bus service at Tirumala : )
For “Matheran the lush green hill station of Raigad” visit this link : http://www.fortunatevoyage.com/matheran-the-lush-green-hill-station-of-raigad/