Sunday, August 21, 2011

SriVari Mettu

That's the place you need to go if you have a trip to Tirumala (Tirupati) in mind, and want to climb the hill on foot.


The regular route from Alipiri is just fine too, but it is quite long and boring with all kinds of distraction and the sound of vehicular traffic nearby jarring your ears all the time. So, for those who like the quietness of nature, the footpath from Sri Vari Mettu is the most welcome relief.

As far as the legend goes, Lord Venkateshwara himself left for Tirumala by this route. The same route was then followed by sages such as Annamaya. Later on, the rulers of Chandragiri among whom Krishnadevaraya's name is also mentioned, have used this route to reach the abode of the Lord of Seven Hills. The scenic route is well paved with 2400 steps of smooth granite stone slabs, and the entire route is covered with modern tin-sheet roof. Drinking water is availble almost every 200 steps. Sudharshan token is given at a counter at the 1,200th step, and the tokens issued here are verified and stamped once again at the 2,050th step. You can identify with nature at its full beauty here, as you are surrounded by tall trees and plants of colorful flowers. The air is cool and pure, with the scent of flowers and the sounds of various birds chirping and calling.

Once you reach the top, you can join the darshan through a separate queue meant for pilgrims who came up the footpath either through Alipiri or SriVari Mettu. Even hot milk is provided free on the way, as is done in the more popular Alipiri path. I went on a Thursday. We started to climb at 6 in the morning, reached the top around 7.15, and were able to get darshan of the Lord by 9 am and were out f the temple complex by 9.30!

To reach SriVari Mettu, you need to first go to Srinivasa Mangapuram, about 15 km to the west of Tirupati, where the temple of Lord Kalyana Venkateshwara is situated. Depending on when you reach there, you can have darshan at this temple and leave for the foothill which is about 3 km from here, with very well laid road leading to the place. If you have a cab, you can ask the driver to drop you at this point and then come up through the Alipiri route. If you are on your own, then it is better to book accommodation at Tirupati town, catch an auto early in the morning. They charge Rs.200 for the drop. After darshan, you can come down by the regular TTD bus.

The Srinivasam complex opposite to Tirupati Bus Station is quite huge and a range of accommodation to suit your budget is available here. Staying downtown also gives you the advantage of spare time to go around the other temples in Tirupati before retiring to bed. I'm sorry I don't have photos to include, as we had kept our cameras and mobile phones in the room itself as these are not allowed into the temple.

Happy trekking and happy darshan!

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