Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Chennai to Tirumala: A Prime

Tirumala is about 15o to 180 kms from Chennai. There are many a routes that one can take for this journey.

  • Chennai-Naidupet-Kalahasti-Tirupati (196 kms): Longest route but one of the fastest as you stay on a 4 lane, seperated highway where average speeds of 100-120 isn't unheard of. The only glitch is that once you get on NH205, you need to be acutely aware of speed breakers that pop up without warning. I advise first time travelers with limited experience in 'real' Indian road experience to take this road. Better RoI on your BP than fuel!
  • Chennai-Tiruvallur-Thiruttani-Nagari-Puttur-Tirupati (173 kms): The cab driver's favorite route as you spend most of the journey in Tamil nadu rather than in AP. It is also one of the worst road to take as it is riddled with potholes, clumpy bitumen chunks and uneven road. It is any gamer's paradise for 3 hours of driving - just real conditions instead of sitting in front of a PS3! I don't recommend this road at all!
  • Chennai-Sulurpet-Kalahasti-Tirupati (177 kms): Took this route only once, on the way back from Tirupati. NH5 is a bonus while the rest of the route is quite ordinary
  • Chennai-Tada-Kalahasti-Tirupati (174 kms): Of all options, i haven't taken this road at all.
  • Chennai-Red Hills-Periyapalayam-Surutupalli-Puttur-Tirupati: The road that i have been taking quite often these days and carries my recommendation. You stay a lot in AP State Highways than in TN State Highways and that means better road experience. Also, if you are not too anxious to get to Tirumala, there are a lot of not-so-famous but very important & beautiful TTD run temples on the way that falls in this route:
    • Nagalapuram (Lord worshiped as Matysa avatar - has fins instead of legs and is called Vedanarayana Swamy)
    • Narayanavanam where it is said that Lord met Ammavaru. The lord is called Kalyana Venkateswara Swamy here.
    • Tiruchanur (more popularly called Alamelumangapuram’) which has TTD’s second most important temple – the Temple of Padmavati Amavaru. Any trip to Tirumala should include a trip to Tiruchanur. For travelers from Chennai, it is best to organize a trip on the way back.
    • Srinivasa Mangapuram: While one needs to see Lord as equally beautiful anywhere, I find him at Srinivasamangapuram to be quite special. Only decked in flowers (and without any gold, diamond or any other precious metals & stones!), it is said that the Lord stayed here before he got married.
    • Tirupati Kodandaramaswamy Temple: Haven’t been there in a long time. Will go there next time.
    • Tirupati Govindarajaswamy Temple: When you align from your bus or train in Tirupati, this is the closest temple – it is right in the middle of town; yet this isn’t visited often. Pilgrims are in a rush to go to Tirumala and once they are back, too tired to go to this huge temple. Did I say that this temple, consecrated by Ramajunacharya himself, is HUGE? I haven’t visited it in a decade but plan to do so in the next visit.

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