Tirupati, the town at the base of Tirumala Hills in the state of Andhra Pradesh, welcomes millions of devotees from every part of the world. It is home to one of the world’s richest Hindu Temples called Sri Venkateswara Temple where Lord Vishnu is worshipped as Lord Venkateswara, also known by names like Tirupati Balaji, Srinivasa and Govinda. Tirupati trip from Chennai is indeed the best and most preferred route for accessing the sacred shrine, Chennai being the closest international airport. As thousands of pilgrims and tourists take this route every year, it is obviously a great idea to take advantage of their experiences to plan a truly memorable Tirupati tour from Chennai. This post is based on inputs from several of these authentic itineraries.
Best Route from Chennai to Tirupati
There are two prime road routes from Chennai, the capital of Tamil Nadu, to Tirupati:
- Via Poonamalle, Thiruvallur, Thiruthani and Puttur: 4-lane till Thiruvallur and from Thiruthani to Tirupati and 2-lane from Thiruvallur to Thiruthani. It is the shorter route (about 135 km.) with lots of speed breakers and more traffic. Road condition is good, except for few stretches near Thiruthani.
- Via Tada, Kalahasti and Renigunta: This Tirupati route from Chennai is longer by 15-20 km., but hosts lesser traffic as compared to the other route. Moreover, you would travel through Eastern Ghat roads with scenic landscapes unfolding on the way. There are speed breakers without indicators (between Tada-Kalahasti) that must be taken care of. There are 2, 4 and 6 lane stretches with good road conditions.
- Have toll plazas
- Have sign boards for guidance
- Are safe for night driving (local drivers not using dippers at night are common, so be careful)
- Can be made easier with Google Maps
Once You Reach Tirupati
You may choose to drive uphill or climb by foot to reach the sacred temple. Here are the details:
Driving (about 16 km.): Reach Alipiri Toll gate where the deployed authorities would check your luggage and vehicles for security reasons. Once you get the clearance and toll receipt, you would drive on the New Ghat Road to reach the temple. While returning, you would follow the Old Ghat Road (two separate roads for uphill and downhill journeys make transition easier and free from jams). Some useful tips are:
- Drive uphill takes about 30 min. while drive downhill takes about 40 min.
- Roads stay closed between 12 midnight and 03:00 a.m.
- Parking is abundant at Rambakicha from where you can avail free bus services to reach the complex.
Walking: There are two ways consisting of hundreds of footsteps:
- From Alipiri Mettu (opens 24 hours): One needs to climb about 3,550 steps to cover the distance of about 11 km.
- From Srivari Mettu (opens between 06:00 a.m.-06:00 p.m.): Climb the distance of about 6 km. via 2,500 steps.
There are free luggage counters available for both the routes to transport luggage to the temple.
Whether you plan Tirupati trip from Chennai in one day or for longer, booking accommodation is necessary for night stay. Accommodations at Tirumala are managed by the temple board Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams (TTD) and should be preferably booked in advance (at least 30 days prior to the trip). It may be done at TTD official website or one of the many TTD reservation counters located across India or with the help of a tour operator. Costs range from INR 200-1,500. During peak tourist season, it is better to stay at the base town of Tirupati which offers unlimited rooms with prices up to INR 5,000.
There are many different types of queues for the darshan of Lord venkateswara. Here are the details:
- Sarva Darshan: Free, no token required, long queues, may take up to 24 hour, starts at Vaikuntam Q Complex 2.
- Sudarshan: INR 50, booked online or at reservation centres (in advance minimum 3 days maximum 90 days before the trip), visitors must reach one hour before the designated time at Vaikuntam Q Complex 1.
- Seeghra Darshan: INR 300, booked online or at reservation centres (in advance minimum 1 day maximum 56 days before the trip). Numbers of tickets vary on different days (maximum being 26,000 on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday). Maximum visitors per ticket are 6. Visitors must carry two copies of booking confirmation along with a valid photo ID proof.
- Special Darshan: Free, for parents with infants between 11:00 a.m.-08:00 p.m.; for physically disabled, patients and elderly (proofs mandatory) between10:00 a.m. and 03:00 p.m.
- Divya Darshan: Free, for pilgrims coming by foot (either of the two ways mentioned above), tickets counters available on the way; must report near Vaikuntam Q Complex 1 at least 1 hour from the designated time.
Places Around Temple
While the holy temple is the main attraction of Tirupati travel from Chennai, you may also extend the trip to visit:
- Puskarini Tank: Holy tank where devotees purify themselves before visiting the temple.
- Papa Vinashanam Tank: Devotees take bath with the firm belief of getting rid of their sins.
- Akashganga Waterfall: Its water is used to bath the main deity.
- Padalu: The spot where Balaji is believed to place feet for the first time.
- Silathoranam: The natural arch (a geological wonder) imitating the hood of a serpent where Balaji is places to have placed his second footstep. It offers marvellous sunset views and appears majestic in moonlight.
- Wildlife: Sri Venkateswara National Park and Sri Venkateswara Zoological Park that are home to hundreds of species of predators, reptiles, birds and exotic flora.
- Padmavathi Temple: It is dedicated to Lord Venkateswara’s consort Padmavathi. It is believed that the temple must be visited first to seek permission from Padmavathi for her husband’s darshan.
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- Carry sheets to rest at the waiting halls where you may have to wait for several hours before darshan.
- Dress up conservatively with no shorts allowed inside the temple.
- While the halls are locked, you may register at the photometric registration system if you wish to leave the halls temporarily.
- Surprisingly, toilets are extremely clean and RO water is available in the premises.
- Due to hundreds of devotees present at one time, expect heavy pushing.
- Don’t forget to obtain the delicious Tirupati Laddu after darshan.
- Phones, cameras and other electronic items are prohibited and must be deposited at the lockers.
- Don’t miss the view of Tirumala Hills showing the face of Balaji himself.
- Don’t try to take out flowers from the sanctum sanctorum as it is not allowed. All flowers are thrown in a small waterfall behind the main idol.