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Album: By Country | By Date India | April 2001 < Prev: Chennai (Madras) | Next: Tirupathi to New Delhi >
Travelogue: By Country | By Date India | April 2001  

April 2001 - Tirumala

A most extraodinary day, walking with the pilgrims to view Lord Ventkateshwara

Tirumala (the temple town at the top of the hills) is known as the abode of the Hindu god Venkateshvara, Lord of Seven Hills. The Tirumala Hills are considered so sacred that before 1870 non-Hindus were not permitted to ascend them. This photo is taken near the beginning of the footpath to the temple complex.  Most of the 50,000 + pilgrims who visit every day take a bus or drive but a fair number walk.  Many parts of Tirupathi and all of Tirumala and the Tirumala Hills are run by or landscaped by the efficient temple authorities (TTD).  Many median strips are landscaped by the TTD's Forest Department.  The streets leading to the footpath and up to the temple are clean.  In fact, the TTD asks people not to smoke in the hills. The start of the 10 Km footpath Getting started A little temple at the start
The path is lined with little shrines.  Even in places where there are no formal shrines, people make little cairns or hand things from tree branches Figures annointed and blackened by lamp carbon People putting colored (spices?) on the steps of the walkway All the way up, people stopped us to talk and to take our photos.  Generally it was very interesting and fun, but occasionally it was a bit too constant.
Close up of the stairs Maggie with a glass of tea outside a shrine.  (Maggie was here and Monica had started taking the photo when the worshipper suddenly appeared) Along the stairs are shops selling food and drinks to the pilgrims.  The TTD controls prices on the most common items - cold drinks and water. Food shop
Green mangoes served with pepper a large statue of Hanuman Another food seller A tree with cairns and offerings hanging from its branches
Part of a shrine The hill were really pretty The path leads over to that temple peeking from the hillside Chatting again
A temple enroute Shrine A viewing of the god is called "darshan."  There are all sorts of ways to arrange darshan.  The more you pay, the faster you can get through the lines.  If you pay nothing at all, the wait is sometimes measured in days.  Paying 50 rupees gets one a particular time and about an hour and a half wait.  Getting an opportunity to pay more requires a letter from someone or a contribution to the TTD.  Tote is talking with some of the scouts who help keep things organized.  You can't wear shoes in the temple.  Garbage can.  The screens in the background are to prevent people from joining the line.  Eventually the screened passages get narrower  until they are rather like cages.
Our declaration form.  Non-Hindus must complete this form to be allowed in. On the left are some of the "cages."  Ultimately, we were packed quite tightly into these cages on the way to view the god.  Unfortunately, we do not have a picture of the central temple, covered with gold.  It looks much like the white ones in earlier pictures but shines brightly amidst all the other temple buildings Tired pilgrims with a funny friend Parts of the complex were really pretty.  This part was covered with flowering vines
This gives a good idea of what a great deal of the temple town is like, and a good deal of any Indian market for that matter The woman in photo has taken the "tonsure vow" and had her hair cut off.  Tonsure pilgrims have special lines in which barbers cut their hair off for free.  Mark and Maggie wanted to do it, but we ran out of time Shop in Tirumala Big statue of Garuda