How has been the year 2011 for all of you? Did you work on the resolutions you made? Did you feel you could have worked harder? Well, you all will be holidaying somewhere someway or other till the Monday blues start. This may well explain the reason why Anna Hazare's 3rd round of fast was a damp squib. Sorry Annaji, we are in a mood to eat, drink and make merry and so please excuse us!!!
We ended the year with a visit to Tirupathi Temple which was long pending in our list. I believe, a visit to any place is incomplete without seeing the surrounding areas there. Most of the people come to Tirupathi just to have a darshan of Lord Venkateshwara which itself may take about a day, depending on the waiting time. We were in the queue for 6 hours and got the darshan of the Lord at the stroke of the midnight!! Imagine to everybody's chagrin that these thousands of devotees are made to wait for hours together when the VIPS, politicians or top Bollywood stars descend there!! With crores of rupees pouring in there, I felt the crowd could have been managed in much better way to have a smoother darshan. There were some places where these queued people had to squeeze due to the narrowing of the space which can create stampede-like situations. Cleanliness part left much to be desired. There were lot of waste in the form of plastic covers, paper cups, plates thrown around. What was praiseworthy was the round-the-clock bus services, food stalls functioning for whole day along with voluntary food distribution. And of course, devotees' level of tolerance and patience to view their favorite Lord. We were totally exhausted and finished for the day when we reached our hotel.
The next day we visited Sri Kalahasteeswara temple which was about an hour's distance from Tirupathi. Legend says that there were three staunch devotees of Lord Shiva: Sri(spider), Kala(serpent), Hasti(elephant) who worshipped Lord in different ways. Lord Shiva gave moksha to these devotees for their selfless devotion. This temple which was started by Pallava dynasty was later developed by Chola and Vijayanagara kings. The temple's architecture is symmetric with well-imposing, central gopuram surrounded by 4 small gopurams and strong, symmetrical pillars which looked similar to famous temples like SriRangam in Tamil Nadu. To the side of the temple is a hillock over which the idol of Kannappa, a staunch devotee of Shiva who was ready to remove his eyes and place on linga, is installed. We got a good overview of the main temple and the surrounding place. There were lot of ladies with earthen pots or buckets selling diluted buttermilk or sambharam which is a definite winner for the parched throats. We spent about five hours in that temple, but had a more satisfying day as the temple was far less crowded than the Tirumala temple. This temple is a must visit for anybody touching Tirupathi.
Some snaps below are related to Kalahasthi temple.
On the last day of our visit, we again went atop the seven hills(or Yedu Kondalu in Telugu) just to enjoy the nature. The bus ride itself is a pleasure as we can see thick forests on both sides. As we go higher and higher, the valley on one side gets picturesque and densely green with trees. Each section of forest is named after ancient sages. We explored the surrounding areas of Tirumala temple which included Papavinasham, Akashaganga falls, Gogarbham dam, and some beautiful gardens belonging to Mutts. This part of our trip was very soothing and we really felt connected to the Lord through the nature. So friends, if you ever visit Tirupathi, do not miss the nature part where the real God exists! These are photos near Tirumala temple.
On a trail opposite to Akashaganga falls.
A few miles from the Tirumala temple.
Akashaganga falls (Teertham).
|INSIDE THE GARDEN OF VANAMAMALAI MUTT.|
WISH YOU ALL A VERY HAPPY AND PROSPEROUS NEW YEAR!!!