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Old 3rd June 2009, 00:01   #1
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Lightbulb 'Xing'ing around ! - Tirumala, Tiruchanoor and Vellore.

Parkinson's Law goes something like "Work expands to fill up all available time" and so it had been for the last couple of months. With work often spilling over into the weekends, we had not gone out for any serious long drive after our Hoysala Temple trip in March. It was also around two years since our last trip to Tirumala and we decided that our next long drive was going to be to the 7 hills.

A couple of weeks before our trip, we visited the TTD center in Malleshwaram to get a darshan slot for a weekend and we got one for 3pm on Saturday 23rd May. Till around a week before the trip, it was still not sure if we would be going ahead... but finally things fell into place and we made the trip!

Since I heard that the normal route via Kolar (old Madras road) is in quite a bad shape due to the 4 laning work, we decided to take the better but significantly longer route via Hosur road, Vellore, Chittoor and thereafter to Tirupati.

We also included the Vellore-Sripuram Golden temple & the Vellore fort into our itinerary on the return leg of our trip.

Travel dates: 23rd & 24th May 09
Total distance on trip meter: 727kms

Route map:

'Xing'ing around ! - Tirumala, Tiruchanoor and Vellore.-map.gif


Some quick pointers:
[1] You can get your darshan bookings done from the TTD office in Malleshwaram (Address provided below).
[2] The timings of the office are 9.00am to 4.00pm (1pm to 2pm lunch break), Tuesday Holiday.
[3] TTD accommodation at Tirumala can also be reserved from here or just check around once you reach Tirumala. Else, there are plenty of places to stay in Tirupati.
[4] The Old Madras road > Chittoor > Tirumala (Approx 280 Kms) route is shorter than the Hosur road > Vellore > Chittoor > Tirumala (Approx 350 Kms) route.
[5] 4 laning work is underway on the OMR route, check with anyone who has done that route recently for route conditions; else the Vellore route is a safer bet.

Started off from Old Airport road at around 7.30am on the 23rd and reached Hosur road quite fast, thanks to the light traffic.

The Hosur road elevated toll road is just a few months away from completion...

'Xing'ing around ! - Tirumala, Tiruchanoor and Vellore.-1.jpg


First pit stop, after Hosur...

'Xing'ing around ! - Tirumala, Tiruchanoor and Vellore.-2.jpg

'Xing'ing around ! - Tirumala, Tiruchanoor and Vellore.-3.jpg


Though the Hosur road route may be longer, the average speeds are much better, so the time differential may be marginal...

'Xing'ing around ! - Tirumala, Tiruchanoor and Vellore.-4.jpg


The Krishnagiri fort...

'Xing'ing around ! - Tirumala, Tiruchanoor and Vellore.-5.jpg


And we reached Vellore...

'Xing'ing around ! - Tirumala, Tiruchanoor and Vellore.-6.jpg


The Vellore > Chittoor road is a two lane state highway. Almost no potholes...

'Xing'ing around ! - Tirumala, Tiruchanoor and Vellore.-7.jpg


The Chittoor > Tirupati road...

'Xing'ing around ! - Tirumala, Tiruchanoor and Vellore.-8.jpg


And we reached Tirupati...

'Xing'ing around ! - Tirumala, Tiruchanoor and Vellore.-9.jpg


Near Alipiri...

'Xing'ing around ! - Tirumala, Tiruchanoor and Vellore.-10.jpg


Follow the sign-boards to take a left turn from the Alipiri gate to reach the vehicle security check area. A quick check and we were cleared...

'Xing'ing around ! - Tirumala, Tiruchanoor and Vellore.-11.jpg


Just after the Alipiri gate, looks like a new security check point & toll collection plaza is being built here...

'Xing'ing around ! - Tirumala, Tiruchanoor and Vellore.-12.jpg


There have been quite a few improvements to the Tirumala ghat road since the last time we drove up. Some of the hair-pin turns have been smoothened; the gradient after the turns has been reduced at many places...

'Xing'ing around ! - Tirumala, Tiruchanoor and Vellore.-13.jpg

'Xing'ing around ! - Tirumala, Tiruchanoor and Vellore.-14.jpg

'Xing'ing around ! - Tirumala, Tiruchanoor and Vellore.-15.jpg


Our reporting time was at 3.00pm and we reached Tirumala by 2.30pm. Parked the car and joined the queue. Though the crowd was probably quite reasonable, the unnecessary pushing was not. Some irate words were exchanged in the queue without improving the situation

Eventually we completed darshan and were out of the temple by around 5.30pm and decided to drive down to our next destination, Tiruchanoor, which is around 8 Kms from Tirupati.

Some pics on the way down...

'Xing'ing around ! - Tirumala, Tiruchanoor and Vellore.-16.jpg

'Xing'ing around ! - Tirumala, Tiruchanoor and Vellore.-17.jpg


A pic at the deer park near one of the places where the foot path to Tirumala cross the road.

'Xing'ing around ! - Tirumala, Tiruchanoor and Vellore.-18.jpg

'Xing'ing around ! - Tirumala, Tiruchanoor and Vellore.-19.jpg


Right after the pic above, I somehow managed to drop the camera and the lens assembly was bent out of alignment. So no pics from Tiruchanoor.

Anyway, Tiruchanoor was another 'crowd' experience, with people falling over each other to get the special darshan tickets. The temple opened at around 7.00pm that evening and the irony was that the Rs.40 'special darshan' queue was much longer than the 'Free darshan' queue. So we switched queues and we were in and out by around 8.00pm.

Our plan was to halt overnight at my uncle's place in Chittoor and proceed further the next day. Reached Chittoor by around 10.00pm, had dinner, caught up a little on the T20 match and hit the bed.

With only Vellore on our itinerary next, we woke up late, had a leisurely breakfast and I even managed to get the camera back into action with a few whacks to get the lens assembly back into track. Though there are some dents and bent metal on the camera, it is working fine!

'Xing'ing around ! - Tirumala, Tiruchanoor and Vellore.-20.jpg


We left Chittoor at around 11.30am and reached Vellore by around 1.00pm. Road conditions are pretty good and the distance is around 40kms...

'Xing'ing around ! - Tirumala, Tiruchanoor and Vellore.-21.jpg

Sadly, no photos are allowed at the Golden temple. The photos below are from the temple website Golden temple - Amma - Welcome to the official site of Sripuram.

Got into the queue and it was a loooonnnng walk along the winding path in the campus. Quite a grandiose construction, with a campus spread over 100 acres, landscaped gardens etc., the temple is worth visiting. I would have preferred to visit the place late in the evening when the temple is lit up with flood lights...

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Road widening is going on the approach roads to the temple and the situation was quite messy...

'Xing'ing around ! - Tirumala, Tiruchanoor and Vellore.-23.jpg

'Xing'ing around ! - Tirumala, Tiruchanoor and Vellore.-24.jpg


Contd...
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Old 3rd June 2009, 00:16   #2
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Lightbulb Vellore fort...

We drove back to Vellore and went ahead towards the last place on our list for this trip... Vellore Fort. Here is a satellite pic of the fort. [Though the fort still has a moat surrounding it on all sides, one half is silted up and overgrown with grass and shrubs. The other half of the moat is being used for boating. Would have been great if the entire moat could be restored and a typical boating trip could be around the fort...

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Excerpts from the Wikipedia about the Vellore fort:
"Vellore Fort is a large 16th-century fort situated in Vellore city near Chennai, in the state of Tamil Nadu, India. It was built by the Nayakar governors of the Vijayanagara Empire and was constructed with large granite blocks. The fort is known for its grand ramparts, wide moat and robust masonry.

The fort is considered to be among the best of military architecture in Southern India and is known for its grand ramparts, wide moat and robust masonry.

This 13th century fort was opened up to tourists and is now maintained by the Archaeological Survey of India, and is well maintained compared to other monuments."

You can read more here: Vellore Fort - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Parked the car and started our walk into the fort. Though it is a little dirty at some places, we walked alongside and sometimes on the fort walls, thus completing a full circuit and checking out the places along the way. Took a pic of the fort map to help us cover all the places to see...

'Xing'ing around ! - Tirumala, Tiruchanoor and Vellore.-25.jpg


The moat around the fort, now being used for boating...

'Xing'ing around ! - Tirumala, Tiruchanoor and Vellore.-26.jpg


The fort walls...

'Xing'ing around ! - Tirumala, Tiruchanoor and Vellore.-27.jpg


A plaque near a stadium pavilion within the fort...

'Xing'ing around ! - Tirumala, Tiruchanoor and Vellore.-28.jpg


Some of the dilapidated buildings within the fort are being reclaimed by nature...

'Xing'ing around ! - Tirumala, Tiruchanoor and Vellore.-29.jpg


History of the 'Jalakanteshwara' temple within the fort...

'Xing'ing around ! - Tirumala, Tiruchanoor and Vellore.-29a.jpg


The temple entrance gopuram...

'Xing'ing around ! - Tirumala, Tiruchanoor and Vellore.-30.jpg


A mandapam inside the complex...

'Xing'ing around ! - Tirumala, Tiruchanoor and Vellore.-31.jpg

'Xing'ing around ! - Tirumala, Tiruchanoor and Vellore.-32.jpg


The pillared pavilion surrounding the temple...

'Xing'ing around ! - Tirumala, Tiruchanoor and Vellore.-33.jpg


The three gopurams...

'Xing'ing around ! - Tirumala, Tiruchanoor and Vellore.-34.jpg


Ganesha...

'Xing'ing around ! - Tirumala, Tiruchanoor and Vellore.-35.jpg


Since this is a Siva temple, I assume that these are idols of the 63 Naayanmaars (Saivaite Saints)...

'Xing'ing around ! - Tirumala, Tiruchanoor and Vellore.-36.jpg


We finished our trip and headed out...

'Xing'ing around ! - Tirumala, Tiruchanoor and Vellore.-37.jpg


Another pic of the fort...

'Xing'ing around ! - Tirumala, Tiruchanoor and Vellore.-39.jpg


Found our way to the Bangalore highway and headed back towards home. This pic should probably go into the classic commercial vehicle thread. A Fargo truck...

'Xing'ing around ! - Tirumala, Tiruchanoor and Vellore.-40.jpg


Sunset on the highway back to Bangalore...

'Xing'ing around ! - Tirumala, Tiruchanoor and Vellore.-41.jpg


This is one sign board that had me confused enough to slow down for a second look. Only to realize that there is a 'Bagalore' and there is a 'Bangalore'...

'Xing'ing around ! - Tirumala, Tiruchanoor and Vellore.-42.jpg


Reached Bangalore by around 9.00pm, stopped for a quick dinner, bough some ice-cream at the Airport road corner house before heading back to pavilion to get a good night's rest.
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Old 3rd June 2009, 00:26   #3
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@hotstuff: Some beatiful pictures there and nice travelogue as always. Thanks for sharing.
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Old 3rd June 2009, 00:52   #4
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Lightbulb Thanks!

Quote:
Originally Posted by akbaree View Post
@hotstuff: Some beatiful pictures there and nice travelogue as always. Thanks for sharing.
- Thanks akbaree !

A couple of things I missed out in the first post...

The address of the TTD Office in Bangalore:

TTD Information Centre
16th Cross, Vyalikavel
Bangalore - 560 003
Ph:080-23445432/23315361
(This is on the same road as the Chowdiah Memorial Hall)

* If you are planning to book darshan timings at the TTD office, all the members planning to visit Tirumala need to be present in person while booking, since all pilgrims are finger printed and a photo taken on a web-cam; the photo is cross verified in the darshan queue.

On the way back from Tirupati to Chittoor, we came across this scene where someone had set fire to a hollowed out tree. The tree was actually burning inside-out, with the hollow out branches producing a blow-torch effect. Sadly the tree was still alive I guess since it still had some green foliage. Since the camera was out of action, took this pic on a phone cam...

'Xing'ing around ! - Tirumala, Tiruchanoor and Vellore.-burningtree.jpg

Last edited by hotstuff : 3rd June 2009 at 00:58. Reason: Additional info.
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Old 3rd June 2009, 09:58   #5
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Another good 'Xinging around' travelogue with lovely pics. Now I regret not visiting Vellore (rather than zipping past it on the highway) in spite of having lived in Chennai for more than 5 years.
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Old 3rd June 2009, 21:51   #6
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Hotstuff,
Nice travelogue. 3 hours darshan is pretty good and fast for saturdays. I was there on 24th sunday and got darshan within 45 mins!!!
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Old 3rd June 2009, 22:43   #7
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As always, great pics and writeup hotstuff ! It was almost like being there !
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Old 3rd June 2009, 23:42   #8
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great travelogue dude!

Whoa, that road sign sure is confusing!

cheers
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Old 3rd June 2009, 23:55   #9
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Last year I did the same trip but in other way. First Tirupti then Vellore. The Sripuram temple is very nice.
Nice write up.
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Old 4th June 2009, 10:57   #10
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Hotstuff---those were real good pics. I just returned from a Tirupati-Tirumala trip and the photos made me re-live those magic moments in that area.
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Old 4th June 2009, 11:57   #11
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Hotstuff, Wonderful travelogue as always. Plus the rare pics of Vellore Fort and Temple.

How is the rush for Golden Temple in general (How much time one must allot for the darshan)? Do we need to book darshan tickets in advance?

Abhi
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Old 4th June 2009, 12:04   #12
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Nice pics and a great write up. Am seeing the Vellore fort pics for the first time and they are cool.
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Old 4th June 2009, 21:36   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by akroy View Post

How is the rush for Golden Temple in general (How much time one must allot for the darshan)? Do we need to book darshan tickets in advance?

Abhi
@ Abhi the rush is not much at all. Just avoid some special day occational day. And there is no special darshan ticket u need to visit this place. U can go for general darshan only.
How ever u have a 500/Rs ticket which is not at all worth giving.
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Old 5th June 2009, 01:03   #14
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Smile Thanks!

@pjay_in
@viv1984
@kannan666
@anekho
@arin_12
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- Thank you all for your feedback & comments!

Quote:
Originally Posted by akroy View Post
How is the rush for Golden Temple in general (How much time one must allot for the darshan)? Do we need to book darshan tickets in advance?

Abhi
Quote:
Originally Posted by arin_12 View Post
@ Abhi the rush is not much at all. Just avoid some special day occational day. And there is no special darshan ticket u need to visit this place. U can go for general darshan only.
How ever u have a 500/Rs ticket which is not at all worth giving.
@akroy, We had gone there on a Sunday and there was quite a bit of a crowd. But once you get into the queue, it moves quite fast. There are some boards near the queue entrance which say 'General Darshan 3 hours', but that seems to be the norm for special occasions / festivals.

There is actually a 'special Darshan', I think it is called 'Kumkumarchana Seva', you need to buy a Rs.100 per head ticket for that.[we bought the 100/- ticket.] With that ticket, you get to walk in a path alongside the main queue... and once you are close to the temple, you go in along the inner queue + get a closer look at the Godess + maybe spend a minute or two there.

As for the 500/- ticket, it is some other seva / puja, where you get to sit in front of the Godess for 15 - 20 minutes while the pooja is done. I agree with @arin_12 that the 500/- ticket may not be required. The 100/- per head one will be better to get a quick darshan.

Logistically, factor in atleast 2.5 hours for a vist to the Golden temple. 1 hour to find a parking place, buy a ticket, pass through the security checks etc. (There will be queues at the ticket counter, chappal stand etc.). Around 1 hour to finish the darshan and get back out of the complex and 30 minutes to settle down in your car and start off towards your next destination.
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Old 5th June 2009, 23:53   #15
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We never experience the rush at Vellore (Sripuram) Golden temple even though there are a lot of devotees as the entire temple is built on 100 acres and you walk for about 2 Kilometers in the queue in the form of a STAR and its amazing and one must really pay a visit if they visit Vellore. I heard that Sripuram attracts almost about the same number of the devotees who visit Tirumala everyday.

Great pics of fort hotstuff. You missed to mention about the church and the mosque in the fort.

Last edited by TrueDreamer : 5th June 2009 at 23:55.
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