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Old 25th May 2023, 19:25   #1
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One day pilgrimage to Tirumala through the TTDC service | A walkthrough

A day trip to Tirumala

It is a common belief that being able to visit the temple at Tirumala and take darshan of Lord Sri Venkateshwara can happen only if He wills it to grant an audience to the bhakta. That way, some are fortunate to see Him every day, some are able to see Him every month. Some are fortunate enough to see Him once every few years (and some never get it).

The last time I visited Tirumala was in March 2019. The temple lines were crowded as usual, but we had an excellent darshana of the Lord. I had prayed for a change and vowed to come back to fulfill my debt if the change happened. And the change did happen, just within 2 months of the visit.

Since that time I have been trying to make the trip back to Tirumala, but for one reason or another, it kept getting postponed. Then came the Covid years. And finally, 4 years after the last visit, it materialised in the form of me booking a ticket just for me via TTDC (Tamilnadu Tourism Development Corporation), that would allow me to travel to Tirumala just a week from booking the ticket.

The booking process:

TTDCís very simple website is easy enough to navigate, though not swanky or providing a modern user experience.

Here is a short video of the booking process on TTDC website.



Once you have successfully paid, you will get a confirmation page with a ticket that you need to print out and keep it handy for boarding the bus. There was no email notification or phone confirmation during the entire booking process.

Someone from the TTDC office called me 4 or 5 days before the trip to confirm that I am travelling. I received the bus number and seat number confirmation at around 11 PM on a Sunday night for a Monday morning trip. Note that your bus number will be used to refer to your group at all times during the trip. Pay attention to which guide making annouoncements and for which bus number.

I have summarised the trip timeline based on my experience.
  1. The bus departed from Tourism Complex, Triplicane at 5 AM
  2. I boarded the bus at the stop opposite to Rohini theater, in front of the Lanson Toyota showroom, Koyambedu - 5:30 AM (huge group of people, sitting on the stairs shown in the photo when I got there at 4:30 AM!)
    • There are no seats except the stairs of the shop.
    • No restrooms nearby.
    • You need to wait for your assigned bus to arrive. There are multiple TTDC buses that do this tour and you don't want to end up in a different bus by mistake.
    • Each passenger will be give a bottle of water and a small pack of biscuits.
  3. Few people were picked up at Sangeetha Veg restaurant, Poonamallee- 6:00 AM
  4. Breakfast at Hotel Tamilnadu, Tiruttani - 7:15 AM
    1. I did not have breakfast. People who had breakfast told me that it was not very good.
    2. There are 3 buildings with toilets, each one with Men and Women partitions. I would say they were usable. You ask why this is important? There are several buses from TTDC that run this tour everyday (8 is what I was told, but I saw 5). That's 200 people passing through this point in a matter of 45 mins or less.
    3. The bus departed around 7:45 AM.
  5. Arrive in Tirupati bus stand near Alipiri circle - 9 AM
    • Here, we had to deboard from TTDC Volvo coach and board a (very rickety, in my case) APSRTC Sapthagiri bus to take us up the hills. The TTDC guide announced the bus number just as the Volvo coach arrived in to the bus stop.
    • Within 2 minutes of boarding the APSRTC bus, it reached the Sapthagiri checkpoint past Alipiri circle. All passengers had to get down with their baggage, put them through the Xray scanner, go through a physical check by security guards and then board the same bus again.
  6. Arrived at Tirumala bus stand - 9:40AM.
    • Proceed to SNC-303 Rooms C & D (Seshadri Nagar Cottage - 303) on the first floor.
      • I did not have high hopes for the cottage rooms. It is little more than 2 rooms (120 sq. ft or less, 1 each for men and women) with 2 toilets, a small room that serves as an office for TTDC employees there and a front small hall where we have to leave our footwear.
      • These 2 rooms are being used by close to 200 people every day and they are not super well maintained. The toilet was Eastern style and just clean enough. We were asked to leave our baggage here (at our own risk!). One must wear dhoti/veshti/North Indian style kurta-pyjamas. For women, saree or churidar (with dupatta) is a must.
      • People who wanted to tonsure their heads were taken to a different place first. I donít know where since I was not part of that group.
    • Next comes the actual preparation for the darshan.
      • The guide called the bus number for collecting the mobile phones. We switched off our mobiles and handed it over to him.
      • He also called out the names from the darshan ticket and handed them over to the individuals after verifying the identification proof. We need to carry the original ID proof or a photocopy.
      • We canít rely on digital versions since our phones canít be taken inside the temple complex. Note: This darshan ticket is very important. Keep it in good shape, especially the bar code section.
      • I was advised here (Tirumala / Tirupati Seegradarshanam query) by Mr. Ravibto take a metal based water bottle when getting in to the queue and that was truly a lifesaver!
    • Once all the tickets had been handed out, my group was asked to proceed down a flight of steps and a long walk towards the Seeghradarshan entry point but it was closed. So we had to proceed to Waiting Hall 2. I found a nice gentlemen from my hometown to chat with and we also accompanied each other through the queues.
      • Waiting Hall 2 quickly got crowded. After about 15 mins, the doors were opened and the crowd swelled forward, in waves, getting funnelled into the walkway.
      • At some point, we had to take a diversion via a quick shortcut since we realized we were in the sarva darshan queue and not the Rs.300 ticket one. Thanks to some quick thinking veteran tourists, we got to the Entry complex quickly.
      • Since we didnít have any baggage or mobile phones, we went directly to the ticket scanner stations. Here we need to ensure that the scanning is done correctly. Otherwise we will not be able to get the 1 x free laddu after we finish our darshan.
      • Once the ticket scan is successful, we go through another pathway to a security checkpoint. Handbags need to be scanned through the Xray machines, security folks will do a quick pat down. There are separate queues for men and women.
      • Then we entered the compartment areas of the Vaikuntam Q complex. We walked all the way to 31, if I remember right. It was almost full but we found some space to stand there. By this time, the heat was getting higher and all were sweating profusely. We were relieved to see that there were large Almonard fans on the walls blowing strong currents of air and that gave us some comfort.
      • After about 10mins of waiting, the gate was opened and as usual, everyone started running out. This time, I noticed that the walkways had an interesting design where people moving 3 or 4 abreast had to form a single file as they progressed. Lot of shoving, squeezing through happened here and one needs to be extremely cool headed to not lose it.
    • Then we went through winding paths down towards the temple and just before the temple, we got one more security check done. We were ushered into the main temple complex, via the Mahadwara, into the area which has the Dwajastambha.
    • The TTD employees work on a certain logic, splitting and rerouting crowds here and there, but finally, we pushed through the Vendi Vakili (Silver doors) and entered the main sanctum inside the Bangaru Vakili, or the Golden Doors.
      • Entering this sacred space, we were split into 3 lines. I went to the middle one, and got an unobstructed view of Sri Venkateshwaraís divine form for almost 15-20 seconds before I had to turn left.
        • There are many anecdotes where people have told that they go to Tirumala keeping in mind so many things to ask, but pretty much forget about those as soon as they set their eyes on Srinivasaís divine form - His right hand showing through the varada mudra the way to eternal bliss (His lotus feet) and the left hand in a unique mudra that promises to never let the waters of samsara go more than the knee.
      • I distinctly remember being allowed much closer to Swamiís vigraham in my earlier trips but even looking at Him from afar was good enough for me. We exited to our left and went up a set of steps to get the theertham and satari. From here and throughout the walk to the right side, we got a fantastic view of the Ananda Nilaya vimanam, the small golden gopuram directly above the garbha griha.
      • The Srivari hundi comes up as we go around to the garbha grihaís left side. I put my offering inside, much to the lightening of my heart, then went around to get the prasadam that was being handed out, then exited the main complex.
    • Usually, the guide is supposed to wait at the exit but our guide had informed us to proceed to the laddu counters to the left and get back to SNC-303. So we went to the laddu counters, which were not crowded that much.
      • One tip - go to the counters farthest from the entrance. There will be less people there. Each darshan ticket gets 1 free laddu, but we can also purchase additional laddus as needed. They will also give good quality bags for Rs.10 each.
      • Once the laddus were purchased, we came out and went to the small counter next to the laddu building to get 2 packs of agarbathi/incense sticks. After this, we made my way to the Anjaneya temple across the courtyard from the main temple, made a right turn and walked all the way back to the cottage.
    • The time now was close to 2 PM . It has been 4 hrs since we arrived at the cottage earlier in the day. I decided not to change back to my pants since we will be visiting Alamelumanga puram/Tiruchanur after a late lunch and they have the same rules for dress code.
      • A long wait ensued for other people from my bus to catch up and return to the cottage. I was able to pick up my phone from the TTDC office room as soon as I returned. I called home briefly and then waited for the guide to call us to depart from Tirumala.
  7. Depart from Tirumala - 3 PM
    • It was almost 2:45 PM before we could board our assigned APSRTC bus in Tirumala bus stand. Another 5 to 10 mins of delay was due to a few stragglers who had gone off on their own to purchase some things. The guide gave them a polite yet strong rebuke and we started off towards Tirupati.
    • We reached Garuda circle in Alipiri in 30-35 mins, boarded our TTDC volvo coach and headed to a nearby hotel, PLR Kandy, for a very late lunch.
      • Food was served in a hall at the back side of this hotel, near their swimming pool.
      • The food itself was decent enough. I just had 2 tandoori roti pieces, a bit of side dish, dal and curd rice.
  8. Depart for Tiruchanur - 4:40 PM
    • We were done with lunch by about 4:30 PM. Getting everyone into the bus took another 5 mins. Then we headed to Tiruchanur, reaching there by 5 PM. The darshan tickets here need to be paid for by ourselves and are not included in the bus fare.
    • We were dropped off at Gate 3, right next to the ticket counters. I got a Rs.200 ticket, and finished darshan in less than 10 mins.
    • I came out towards Gate 2 as instructed by the guide, got my tokenís free laddu and a couple of extra laddus (these laddus are very different from what you get in Tirumala), then walked to and boarded the bus which was parked near RKR Kalyana mandapam, on the road that goes right opposite from Gate 3.
  9. Depart for Chennai from Tiruchanur - 6 PM
    • After a 30 min or so of waiting, we finally got everyone back on the bus and started towards Chennai.
    • Dinner was at the same place as we had stopped for breakfast. We reached the hotel around 7:30 PM.
      • They had hot bondas (tasted good), idlis (decent enough), some uthappam (not too good), with chutney (just ok) and sambar (decent enough).
      • They also had coffee. Once dinner was done, we started back for Chennai around 8 PM.
  10. Reached Chennai - 9:45 PM
    • The last leg of the day trip was an uneventful ride. Everyone was tired and many fell asleep quickly.
    • I got dropped off in front of Rohini theater in Koyambedu at around 9:45 PM. There I caught an auto rickshaw and reached home around 10:15 PM.
I did not take any photos on the trip except for the entrance at Alipiri and the bus itself. So, here are the Google map street views of the main stops for visual reference:
  1. Koyambedu pick up point - Right in front of Lanson Toyota: https://goo.gl/maps/JWH3PASNYEK5j7hs6
  2. HTN, Tiruttani (Breakfast and Dinner) - https://goo.gl/maps/zGyYGWX4SBPeyHaZA
  3. SNC-303 TTDC rooms - https://goo.gl/maps/KHCYj5FNwVy4TaBn6
  4. Hotel PLR Kandy - https://goo.gl/maps/1Z3H15g1reVzPe489
  5. Tiruchanur:
A few closing points:
  1. One thing to keep in mind when you go on this tour. I had initially thought this will be some special batch that is ushered through, but it was not the case.
    • TTDC just has an arrangement on batches of tickets allotted to them everyday for the long term.
    • They will get you in to the queue by a said time slot, but when the darshan will be completed is never guaranteed.
  2. I heard stories of batches that waited for 6 hours, couldn't visit Tiruchanur and reached Chennai well past midnight.
    • But honestly, there is always an element of uncertainty, not just with this tour but with every tier ticket you can get here. You need His sanction, ultimately.
  3. Once you are at Tirumala, you have lot of options for food if you want to grab a quick bite.
    • Note that the guide will strongly warned not to stray away from the group or go to the free annadhanam places since it would take a lot of time to get back and it will be a massive inconvenience for your fellow travellers.
    • I did not buy any food there and so I cannot comment on quality or taste. On the way back to the cottage there are lot of small eateries, many looked clean and hygienic enough. So, those who feel hungry can get something to eat IF they are not behind schedule.
  4. There seems to be some side work that the guides do, like getting additional laddus ahead of time for a "service fee". My guide was clear that he doesn't do such services but informed the passengers that they are free to tip him, the driver and assistant optionally.
  5. Big laddu (600-700gms) costs Rs.200 each. Smaller laddus (150-175gms) cost Rs.50 each. I asked for 4 big laddus and the counter guy was like "only one big laddu per person". I told him that such a rule doesn't make sense and asked him politelty to give me 2 big laddus and 5 small ones. He complied.
This was a tiring trip, but completely worth the trouble at the end. I will be more than happy to answer any questions.

Last edited by asmr : 26th May 2023 at 16:05.
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Old 27th May 2023, 14:41   #2
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Re: One day pilgrimage to Tirumala through the TTDC service | A walkthrough

Thread moved from the Assembly Line to the Travelogues section. Thanks for sharing!

Going to our homepage tomorrow
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Old 28th May 2023, 21:16   #3
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Re: One day pilgrimage to Tirumala through the TTDC service | A walkthrough

Thanks @asmr for the nice way you have explained the process. I lived in kakinada for over a decade and have visited twice. It is common amongst all local people(visit every year/occasion) to share laddus as prasad in office or neighbourhood after a trip. My few inputs are :-
Try to climb up by walk during off season, which is real travel for us enthusiasts.
Avoid festival times and school/college results period.
Saturday is Balaji day and must be avoided unless you believe.
Try to book rooms and spend few days on top (very peaceful).
Must plan in such a way that your train/room and darshan dates are available/coincide.
Darshan time should be in the morning slots and must take anna prasadam (lunch).
There are few other close temples, if you wish to visit.
The TTDC site is very clear and msut be read before the trip.
I stayed in town below and went for darshan by local taxis.
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Old 30th May 2023, 14:36   #4
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Re: One day pilgrimage to Tirumala through the TTDC service | A walkthrough

Hi

Than you for sharing a very detailed process for the darshan.

I am planning to take my mother for His darshan too (from Bangalore).

Question - is there any special provision for super senior citizens? She is able to walk but needs support and is able to walk slowly.

Don’t mind spending so that she can get the darshan at a pace which is possible for her at her age.

Any advice would be much appreciated.
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Old 30th May 2023, 16:11   #5
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Re: One day pilgrimage to Tirumala through the TTDC service | A walkthrough

Quote:
Originally Posted by MarutiGuy1977 View Post
Hi

Than you for sharing a very detailed process for the darshan.

I am planning to take my mother for His darshan too (from Bangalore).

Question - is there any special provision for super senior citizens? She is able to walk but needs support and is able to walk slowly.

Donít mind spending so that she can get the darshan at a pace which is possible for her at her age.

Any advice would be much appreciated.
Hi! If you question is whether there is any special provision for super senior citizens with TTDC, I would say the answer is No. I did see several senior citizens in my bus as well as other buses, some close to 80 years of age. And they did get through the crowd and complete their darshan. But I don't think any special arrangements were or could me made, since the guides basically get us in to the queue and that's pretty much it.

Have you checked TTD (Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams) website? They have dedicated tickets/timing slots for senior citizens. I just checked their website and it's fully booked until August. Believe the ticket quotas are released on 24th of every month going forward. Attendant will have to be spouse or a TTD employee who will be assigned.

One day pilgrimage to Tirumala through the TTDC service | A walkthrough-srcittirumala.png

Sorry that I am not able to be helpful on this. Please do post your query on this (Tirumala / Tirupati Seegradarshanam query) thread as well. People on that thread might know an easier way.
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Old 30th May 2023, 16:27   #6
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Re: One day pilgrimage to Tirumala through the TTDC service | A walkthrough

Quote:
Originally Posted by asmr View Post
Hi! If you question is whether there is any special provision for super senior citizens with TTDC, I would say the answer is No.

Have you checked TTD (Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams) website? They have dedicated tickets/timing slots for senior citizens. I just checked their website and it's fully booked until August. Believe the ticket quotas are released on 24th of every month going forward. Attendant will have to be spouse or a TTD employee who will be assigned.
Thank you for your prompt and helpful response. Your effort of checking the website and providing indications of the dates are much helpful.

Let me try and figure out the best way forward and will post the info here.
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Old 31st May 2023, 10:36   #7
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Re: One day pilgrimage to Tirumala through the TTDC service | A walkthrough

Quote:
Originally Posted by MarutiGuy1977 View Post
Question - is there any special provision for super senior citizens? She is able to walk but needs support and is able to walk slowly.
Some additional points regarding the below option provided by asmr:

[1] during the senior citizens darshan, they stop all the other queues. The usual rush, pushing and pulling won't be there during senior citizens darshan. The other queues are allowed to resume only after the senior citizens darshan is completed.

[2] the entry point for senior citizens is the Supatham route, which is very close to the temple. No need to go through the usual VQC entry points for Divya Darshan, Sarva Darshan, or SED.

[3] the senior citizens quota will be released on the 23rd of each month as per a recent update (source: Telengana Today), but still not clear regarding how many months in advance the quota will be released ie, whether the Sep quota for senior citizens will be released in June, July, or August is not clear.

Quote:
Originally Posted by asmr View Post
I just checked their website and it's fully booked until August. Believe the ticket quotas are released on 24th of every month going forward. Attendant will have to be spouse or a TTD employee who will be assigned.

Last edited by adisan : 31st May 2023 at 10:55.
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Old 2nd June 2023, 18:09   #8
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Re: One day pilgrimage to Tirumala through the TTDC service | A walkthrough

Quote:
Originally Posted by adisan View Post
Some additional points regarding the below option provided by asmr:
.
Thank you adisan (and asmr). I cannot tell you have valuable your inputs have been. Many thanks.
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