I had travelled to Tirupathi on April 23rd, 2006 with my family, to finish a venduthal, in terms of tonsuring hair in my kids heads. We both also gave poo-mudi.
It was after 7 years and 4 months since my last trip (Nov 1998 after my marriage).
We booked thru Sri Renga Travels, T Nagar Chennai (Phone 3299 7719), 12 days in advance, with an executive package @ 1400 Rs per tix in a Toyota Qualis (this varies lower for a Tempo Traveller ride), and they also charged for kids @ 50%. The actual travel was arranged by Sree Balaji Travels, who has good contacts on the travel darshan, might even charge lesser. We were part of another group of family, owing to entrance tickets. They had booked Unjal Seva at 12 PM for Rs 2000/-, catering to 10 adults. Only 10 laddoo's are given.
We started at 5 PM from house, starting point was T Nagar, Siva Vishnu Temple @ Chennai. The journey started with a group of 3 vehicles. We had sumptuous breakfast at Sri Vema Hotel AC at Tiruvallur (2 Idlis, 1 vada, 1 Dosai and 1 Pongal plus Coffee) at 7.30 AM. We started at 8 AM and reached Tiruchanoor (Alamelumangapuram) at 9.15 AM, on the way we saw two snakes on the road, and had a quick Darshan for Rs 25- in the Rs 200 queue, where sandwiching fo people is quite common. The pickpockets were having a heyday! We started for Tirupathi (reached adivaram at 9.40AM) and after few minutes of checkup of vehicle, we were enroute to Tirumala, abode of Lord Balaji (Venkatesa Perumal).
We reached the top, 20 KMs, and reached the VIP guest house of M/S Lloyds Steel, and on paying Rs 250/- finished the Veduthal tonsure (Actual cost Rs 10/- per head only), and had a good bath and reached Vaigundam at 11.30 AM, in time for the 12 PM darshan, after the hand baggage scan. Too much rush and large crowds, owing to holiday season for kids. To put money in the Hundi, the gaurds are taking bribe to help you cut the line. On finishing the hot sandwiching darshan, kids crying, and after having Free Prasadham - Sweet Pongal, we came out to collect ladoos. Hawkers were selling Ladoos illegally for Rs 30 each piece. I think they give a cut to HDFC counter.Since temperatures were hovering at 40 deg Celsius, walking was uncomfortable, from the temple to the parking lot on the cement plaster openway, but mud was cooler. Those idiots, who are trustees, walkin front of the temple from car, hence they dont know the pain of walking in the hot sun, why cant they put a shelter, when the temple collects 2 to 3 crores a day as donation. They should also take care of women getting molested. Scent can be sprayed in the temple complex to get rid of gas smell with huge fans. I dont know how the Ministers, CM, PM, Presidents and of course Ambani's have the darshans.
I saw a newly wed couple, the groom from USA I suppose, with a good looking bride, married at Tirupathi, donating a bunch of $ 100 notes in the Hundi, with a gold coin! Probably a very nice match etc... The lady was also climbing on the side bars, to have the darshan as she was short!
We reached the down of the hill, after a minor accident, by the sleepy driver in one of the 59 air pin bends (old road). For Rs 70/- the sumptuous lunch South Indian thali at Bhima's residency was good. They give that to the travels at Rs 52/-. We had to pay the difference for the cost of 2 Batura's, for one kids meal coupon. Nice system! We reached home at 7 PM. The trip was quick, and in the last 30 years of my travel to Tirupathi, this was the easiest and costliest trip. Less painful. May Lord Balaji shower his blessings on us. (One of my wish was to be the richest person on thee earth, beating the Sheikhs and Bushes and Bill Gates)