For the 2nd consecutive time, I went to Tirumala by walk
from Tirupati. But unlike last time - when I went from Srivarimettu
(Chandragiri) , this time I went thru the much commonly used walk way -
Alipiri. And like my earlier post - travelogue on Mantralaya, I am going to
enter my experience here.
Start : Left bangalore at 10.10pm sharp in KSRTC Volvo and
reached Tirupati at morning 3.30 am ( as usual I had got sleep around the time
when we reached. so woke up with burn in eyes, but with less intensity this
time around since I was logistically well prepared this time around and had
slept tight the night before, knowing that I dont get proper sleep during the
night journey , that too in such short journey of 5 hrs).
The walk paths : There are two walk-ways leading to Tirumala
from the bottom of hills.
1. Srivarimettu - (Chandragiri) - approx 10 - 12 km
from the Tirupati Bus stand. This is supposed to be oldest of the two routes.
There are approx 2000 odd steps in this route. There is no buses (as per my
knowledge goes) to this place. Hence you may have to take an auto. When i went
last year (2011), the auto wala charged 180 R.s . Fair enough i thought since
he honestly told us that he wont get customers while returning at such early
morning time (approx 4.30am). Free darshan tickets are issues at approx half-way
mark. Security check on the ticket will be put when we reach close to the top.
This route is better for the elderly people and those who cant walk for such
long distance as Alipiri route (which I explain next), since the Darshan ticket
and facilities that come with it are going to be same for both the route
2. Alipiri - Approx 4K.M from Bus stand. Approx
11-14 km, 3550 steps. But reaching here is quite easy compared to earlier
route. Because this point starts from Alipiri Toll gate itself, through which
any bus going from Tirupati to Tirumala has to cross. All you need to do is to
buy tickets to Alipiri from the same ticket issuing counter in bus stand, where
they give tickets to Tirumala. Ticket fare - 5R.s. But they wont allow you to
take seat in the bus since the preference is given to those who travel till
Tirumala. No its not partiality. The Buses are not supposed to go to hill with
standing passengers, as its banned by AP Police. The buses wont even pick
passengers from anywhere apart from bus stand. So, once the seats are occupied
with those who travel to hill, they allow passengers with alipiri ticket, in
standing. Since its hardly 4KM, its not a issue at all.
Start from Alipiri : around 4.45 am we started our
expedition. I was surprised to see such a huge crowd at this early morning
time, climbing steps with us. The path is maintained so clean inspite of such a
huge traffic of piligrims using it. Not a single step you need to take on mud
way! Entire path is perfectly laid with stone steps, maintained clean by an
army of cleaners employed by TTD. The whole path is well illuminated by
tubelights at ceiling and both right and left side walls. There is security at
certain points, to protect the piligrims from any anti-social elements. Also,
ambulance is stationed at 2500th step for emergency needs.
Divyadarshan tickets were issues at Galigopuram junction - 2083rd step. Lot of eateries are
here in this junction where people take light snacks or tea or soft drinks to freshen up for
the remaining part of the journey. But i prefered not to take anything since I
didnt wanted to take any risk of vomiting or any other problem.
Reached : Around 8.20 am we reached the top - covering the last 3550th step. It was a
wonderful feeling to achieve this. Like everyone, we too walked barefoot by
carrying our footwear in plastic hand bag. But owing to the excellent
maintenance of the path, I didnt even had a single scratch or stone-pain in my
foot. Also, it was good experience walking barefoot over different surfaces and
climatic conditions - the stone laid steps, the concrete path in between, the
tar road stretch (at certain point in tar road stretch, there is natural water which drips down thru the rocks on the left. This water is so ice cold that even though we tried our best to avoid it,
we had to walk over it for some 10 steps where it had crossed the road. Legs became numb after walking over it) at chilling cold climate.
Overall it was comfortable journey I would say. We got the darshan within 2- 2.5 hours
after we entered the Q hall ( for almost an hour we were seated in a waiting
hall, which is better than standing in Q continuously). I could say that its
god's grace that we were able to do this. For all those who want to go to Tirumala,
and thinking about taking walking route, I would say go ahead. God is there to
guide and support you.