Saturday, November 27, 2010

Attractions of Tirupati: Chandragiri Fort

Chandragiri is famous for the historical fort, built in the 11th century, and the Raja Mahal (Palace) within it. Chandragiri was under the rule of Yadava rayas for about three centuries and came into control of Vijayanagar rulers in 1367. It came into prominence during Saluva Narasimha Rayalu,he got the title of Mahamandaleswara and his illustrious Prime minister Chitti Gangarayalu (Ganganamatyudu) was known for his vision, wisdom and rectitude and was revered as a Bhisma Pitamaha in his times, he was the person who identified intellectualism of Timmarasu and taken him into the service of Chandragiri and later promoted to the Prime minister of Vijayanagar Empire. Gangaraya discendents served the Vijayanagara empire as trusted Generals and Governors for several generations, Chandragiri was the 4th capital of Vijayanagar Empire, Rayas shifted their capital to here when Golconda sultans attacked Penukonda. In 1646 the fort was annexed to the Golkonda territory and subsequently came under Mysore rule. It went into oblivion from 1792 onward. The fort encircles eight ruined temples of saivite and vaishnavite pantheons, Raja Mahal, Rani Mahal and other ruined structures.

Raja Mahal Palace, Chandragiri
The Raja Mahal Palace (shown in picture) is now an archeological museum. The palace is three storeyed, is an example of Indo-Sarcen architecture of Vijayanagar period. The crowning towers represents the Hindu architectural elements. The palace was constructed using stone, brick, lime mortar and devoid of timber.

Koneti Naidu, who was made the king of Penukonda by the Vijayanagar Raya was the great-grandson of Kanaka Naidu of Chandragiri Royal Family, Koneti Naidu belonged to Vasarasi family of Balijas and he ruled for about fourteen years.

Laser show is organized in fort premises during weekends, 7pm

The Seven Sacred Hills of Tirumala, Tirupati:

The picturesque Tirumala hills is situated 2820 ft above MSL and is about 100sq.m in area. It comprises seven peaks, representing the seven hoods of Audisesha, thus earning the name Seshachalam.

The seven peaks are called Seshadri, Vedadri, Garudadri, Anjandri, Vrishabhadri, Narayandri and Venkatadri (Adri in sanskrit means Hill).

The Venkatam hill is believed to be a part of the celestial mount meru, brought to the earth from Vaikuntam by Garuda.The sacred temple of Sri Venkateswara is located on the seventh peak,Venkatdri and there are several legends associated with the manifestation of the lord in Tirumala. The shrine of the lord is very ancient and there are ample references to it in the early inscriptions belonging to the Chola and Pallava periods as well in the Sangam literature.

The abode of the lord is about 10 Km north-west of Tirupati and there are footsteps leading to the hill as well as two separate serpentine roads to reach the shrine. According to legend, God Vishnu revealed himself earlier in the previous incarnations as Varahaswamy on the banks of the present temple tank. This manifestation of the white boar (Sveta Varaham) is enshrined in the Adi Varahaswany temple situated on the northeastern banks of the tank.

The Sanctum sanctorum called the Garbha Griha is where the main idol of lord Venkateswara resides. The idol stands majestically to a height of eight feet, in the centre of the sanctum directly beneath a gold guilded dome called the Ananda Nilaya Divay Vimana. The exquisitely wrought idol called the Mulabera is believed to be Svayambhu(self manifested), according to the legends. Further, no human being is known to have either sculpted or installed the idol in the shrine.

On normal days the imposing idol is adorned with a golden Kiritam which has a large emerald embedded on its front. On special occasions like the Brahmothsavam, he is adorned with his precious diamond crown worth Rs 30 Crores. On his forehead, the lord has a thick double patch of upright Namam drawn with refined camphor which screens his eyes. In between the two white patches is the Kasturi tilakam. His ear's are bedecked with shinning golden Makara Kundalas. The fist of his right raised hand is implanted with a gem-set chakra and the correponding left fist is with the Sankha. The slightly outstretched right hand has its finger pointing to his lotus feet, as the only recourse to his devotees to attain oneness with him and enjoy eternal bliss. His right hand is akimbo to assure his devotees of protection and to show the proverbial SamsaraSagara, the ocean of mundane life,is only hip deep if they seek refuge in him.

He has on the right side of his chest a clear impression of Goddess Lakshmi's, his consort. The deity has a unique magnetism, many devotees who go through the fleeting Sarvadarsanam have unusual psychic experience. They leave with a sense of spiritual satisfaction, coupled with a religious hunger to stand in front of Lord Venkateswara and experience the bliss again and again.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Recommended Restaurants in Tirupati

Nitya Anna Dana Hall
Basic free meals consisting of vegetable dishes, chutney, rice, sambhar, rasam and buttermilk are provided at the Nitya Anna Dana Hall. The hall is one km from temple, next to the shopping complex. Over 25,000 pilgrims eat in this big hall every day. Food is served on tables, either in stainless steel plates or on banana leaves.
Location: Tirumala Temple Premises

Balaji Woodlands
Balaji Woodlands, near the bazaar, is clean and a good option for South Indian tiffin meals.
Location: 206, Achalukya Complex, TP Area

The Saptagiri Woodlands Restaurant
The restaurant is recommended for its hot and tasty South Indian veg snacks and meals. The long dosa and pesarattu are some of the most loved dishes here.
Location: Near the Saptagiri Guesthouse

Woodside Restaurant
The restaurant serves some delicious tiffin meals. The prices are affordable and the restaurant has clean surroundings.
Location: Near the SV Museum

Bhimas Paradise
The restaurant at Bhimas Paradise Hotel serves traditional authentic vegetarian South Indian, North Indian, Chinese, and Mughlai cuisine.
Location: 3-37, Renigunta Road

Hotel Mayura
Hotel Mayura takes pride in its on-site restaurant that whips up pure vegetarian North Indian and South Indian delicacies. The gourmet can also place orders for scrumptious Chinese and Mughlai dishes. The flavor of the food will leave even the most finicky foodie thoroughly pleased.
Location: 209, T.P Area

Vrinda is a pure vegetarian restaurant in Sindhuri Park Hotel. The restaurant serves delicious North Indian, Chinese and South Indian food. The hotel provides an unforgettable experience of dining in a restaurant adorned with appealing wall-hangs and gorgeous Radha-Krishna idols. There is also an adjoining mini dining hall for small parties and family dinners.
Location: TP Area, Opp. Govindaraja Swamy Temple, Pushkarini

Quick facts about Tirupati

Tirupati Information & Fact file
    Altitude750 meters
    TempSummer: 45 (max) and 40 (min) Degrees Celsius
    Winter: 30 (max) & 15 (min) Degrees Celsius
    Best time to GoOct - March
    MonsoonJuly - Sept
    SummerMarch - June
    WinterOct - Feb
    ClothesLight cottons in summers and woolen clothes during winters as it is usually cold in Tirumala.
    Nearest AirportTirupati
    Railway StationTirupati
    Bus StationTirupati
    Hospital & DoctorSVIMS, Tirupati
    SightseeingTirumala Balaji Temple, Silathoranam, Theerthams, Papvinasanam...

Overview on Tirupati

Tirupati, the place which constantly reverberates with the holy chanting of Om Namo Narayanaya  and reminds of delicious laddus distributed as prasadam, is a major pilgrimage city drawing devotees from all over the country and abroad. 

Tirupati is prominently known for Tirumala, the place of seven hills which is the abode of great lord Balaji usually called as lord Venkateswara or Srinivasa. The city is located in the southeastern part of Andhra Pradesh, in Chittoor district, located at the foothills of Eastern Ghats. The temple here is said to be the busiest in the world, eclipsing even Rome, Jerusalem and Mecca with the number of pilgrims visiting it.

The term 'Tirupati' is made of two words, where 'Tiru' means 'Sri' and 'Pati' means 'Husband'. Thus, 'Tirupati' suggests 'Maha Vishnu' or 'Lord of Maha Lakshmi'. Tirumala is located atop the hill which comprises of seven peaks, representing the seven hoods of Adisesha, thus earning the name, Seshachalam.

Popular as the richest and most opulent temple in the world, this temple is a vibrant cultural and philanthropic institution with a grand history spanning several centuries maintained by Tirumala Tirupati Devastanam (TTD). It is thronged by the devotees all around the year that it is not unusual for pilgrims to stand in line for hours together to witness a glimpse of the presiding deity for a few seconds, which take you to experience the pinnacle of divinity within those few precious seconds standing before God in the temple.

Apart from the Tirumala Venkateswara Temple, there are plethora of other temples in and around the city which are worth visiting. In addition to various shrines scattered all over Tirupati and beyond, there are holy water falls, sacred rivers and archaeological wonders too.

Most of the devotees visit the temple to give their offerings on fulfillment of their vows, by either dropping them in Hundi or by tonsuring their heads. Walking up to the tmple is also treated as one offering to God. The path up to the doors of the Tirupati temple is around 12 km, comprising nearly 3500 plus stairs in total as one crosses seven hills.

Tirupati also offers some delicious cuisines reflecting the authentic Rayalaseema food, famous for its spiciness and hot chili flavor.

How to reach Tirupati by Train

Trains connected to Tirupati from all places of India

Tirupati Railway Station is connected by trains from Bangalore, Chennai, Visakhapatnam, Madurai and Mumbai. A major railhead nearby is Renigunta, which is 15 km away. Renigunta is located in Trivandrum – Delhi route, which is connected to all cities in India by rail.

Starting StationTrainArrival at TirupatiService Days
Bangalore (SBC)
5 more trains
Seshadri Expres
07:55 PM
(duration: 6h 35m)
All Days
Chennai (MAS)
1 more train
Sapthagiri Exp
09:30 AM
(duration: 3h 5m)
All Days
Tirupathi Exp
05:00 PM
(duration: 3h 10m)
All Days
Delhi (NDLS)
5 more trains
Kerala Express
09:05 PM
(duration: 33h 35m)
All Days
Hyderabad (SC)
6 more trains
Narayanadri Exp
06:05 AM
(duration: 12h)
All Days
Padmavati Exp
07:00 AM
(duration: 12h 30m)
Tue, Thu, Fri, Sat & Sun
Mumbai (CSTM)Nagarcoil Exp
10:45 AM
(duration: 22h 40m)
Tue & Sat
Kanyakumari Exp
02:30 PM
(duration: 22h 45m)
All Days
Adilabad (ADB)Krishna Exp
09:25 PM
(duration: 24h 25m)
All Days
Bhubaneswar (BBS)
3 more trains
Bbs Ypr Sup Exp
03:45 AM
(duration: 20h 15m)
Bilaspur (BSP)Bsp Tpty Expres
04:05 PM
(duration: 30h)
Tue & Sat
Chamarajanagar (CMNR)Tirupati Passr
05:35 AM
(duration: 14h 35m)
All Days
Chittoor (CTO)
15 more trains
Venkatadri Exp
06:30 PM
(duration: 1h)
All Days
Coimbatore (CBE)
9 more trains
Cbe Tirupaty Ex
07:30 AM
(duration: 8h 55m)
Ernakulam (ERS)
6 more trains
Nizamuddin Exp
07:30 AM
(duration: 12h 40m)
Ers Patna Exp
12:10 PM
(duration: 13h 25m)
Guntur (GNT)
2 more trains
Gnt Tpty Pas
11:45 AM
(duration: 10h 45m)
All Days
H Nizamuddin (NZM)
3 more trains
Ers Millenum Ex
05:10 PM
(duration: 35h 10m)
Swarna Jayanti
05:10 PM
(duration: 35h 10m)
Hatia (HTE)Hte Ypr Express
10:00 PM
(duration: 27h 40m)
Tue & Sun
Howrah (HWH)Hwh Pdy Exp
01:20 AM
(duration: 25h 50m)
Hwh Ypr Express
11:40 PM
(duration: 27h 5m)
All Days
Hubli (UBL)
1 more train
Ubl Tirupati Pa
09:00 PM
(duration: 15h)
All Days
Hyderabad Decan (HYB)Sabari Exp
12:30 AM
(duration: 12h 30m)
All Days
Rayalaseema Exp
08:45 AM
(duration: 15h 20m)
All Days
Jammu (JAT)Navyug Express
01:20 AM
(duration: 49h 35m)
Himsagar Exp
01:20 AM
(duration: 49h 35m)
Kacheguda (KCG)
2 more trains
Venkatadri Exp
07:30 AM
(duration: 11h 25m)
All Days
Kakinada (CCT)
1 more train
Sheshadri Exp
05:25 AM
(duration: 11h 50m)
All Days
Kakinada Port (COA)Tirupati Psgr
02:40 AM
(duration: 19h 40m)
All Days
Kanyakumari (CAPE)Cape Mumbai Exp
03:20 AM
(duration: 21h 50m)
All Days
Himsagar Exp
09:08 AM
(duration: 19h 8m)
Kolhapur (KOP)Haripriya Exp
08:45 AM
(duration: 21h 10m)
All Days
Machelipatnam (MTM)Mtm Tpty Exp
04:35 AM
(duration: 9h 35m)
All Days
Mangalore Cntl (MAQ)Navyug Exp
09:08 AM
(duration: 16h 48m)
Nagercoil (NCJ)
2 more trains
Gurudev Express
09:08 AM
(duration: 18h 33m)
Ncj Mumbai Exp
09:40 PM
(duration: 16h 50m)
Thu & Sun
Narasapuram (NS)Ns Tpty Exp
04:35 AM
(duration: 11h 20m)
All Days
Okha (OKHA)Rameswaram Exp
06:10 AM
(duration: 48h 5m)
Patna (PNBE)Pnbe Ers Expres
09:50 AM
(duration: 41h 20m)
Pondicherry (PDY)Pdy Howrah Exp
07:30 PM
(duration: 8h)
Puri (PURI)
4 more trains
Puri Tpty Exp
04:05 PM
(duration: 27h 5m)
Mon, Wed, Thu, Fri & Sun
Rameswaram (RMM)
3 more trains
Rmm Okha Expres
11:10 AM
(duration: 14h 20m)
Shalimar (SHM)Gurudev Express
03:45 AM
(duration: 28h 45m)
Tatanagar Jn (TATA)Tata Ypr Exp
10:00 PM
(duration: 27h 25m)
Tirunelveli (TEN)
1 more train
Ten Jammu Exp
09:08 AM
(duration: 17h 23m)
Mon & Fri
Ten Jammu Exp
09:08 AM
(duration: 17h 23m)
Trivandrum (TVC)
4 more trains
Sabari Express
12:30 AM
(duration: 17h 15m)
All Days
Kerala Express
03:50 AM
(duration: 16h 35m)
All Days
Visakhapatnam (VSKP)
6 more trains
Tirumala Exp
05:00 AM
(duration: 15h 10m)
All Days
Yesvantpur Jn (YPR)
2 more trains
Ypr Howrah Exp
02:30 AM
(duration: 6h 55m)
All Days
Ypr Tata Exp
02:35 PM
(duration: 6h 5m)