In the local language of Andhra Pradesh, ‘Tiru’ stands for Lakshmi and ‘Pati’ means Husband. This itself conveys the importance of holy town called Tirupati, which is dedicated to Vishnu or Balaji. Although my children are not religious, the mystical ecstasy of the famous Tirupati Balaji persuaded them to take a visit of both the temple and town. My teens requested to start the year of 2014 with the worship of the famous temple and excursion of nearby attractions. Well, that was enough for me to plan a small trip to the holy land of Tirupati for the month of January, a prominent month attracting more people. Reaching Tirupati From Chennai, it took us only 4 hours to reach the town from where it the pilgrimage site is nearly 20 km away on the sacred hills of Tirumala. We stay in Chennai and have our own car due to which traveling by road was truly engaging, as we chanted the famous Tirupati Balaji mantra. We reached at Friday night by 10 pm so that we can easily worship the temple early morning. For accommodation, we have booked a holiday home online at Holidayrentals.co.in that gave us a very cost-effective accommodation to stay on Old Renigunta Road. Kicking Off the Journey with the Pilgrimage Sites As one can guess, we started late at night to visit Sri Venkateswara Temple (Tirupati Balaji). Out of the different systems of worshipping available, we took up the ‘Subprabhat Darshanam’ for worshipping at 2:30 am. This one was the most reasonable priced system. Nobody is allowed to stop before the idol due to which one has to move incessantly for the ‘darshan’ and offer Puja through a handi or dol (bucket). Boasting the Dravidian architecture, the temple has a beautifully carved gopuram and charming cupola soaring from amidst the green surroundings. The impressive idol of Lord Vishnu in jet-black stone is embellished with glittering gold, dazzling diamonds, and rich rubies. Soaring about 9 feet, the Lord’s smiling face and eyes appearing like the ocean of divine mercy is truly unforgettable, particularly because it is of stone. After entering the inner sanctum, the ambiance turns out to be highly divine and positive despite the crowd chanting louder. Nothing seems to hinder the never fading charisma the deity radiates. After moving in the line when you move ahead to see the deity, time seems to halt, during which a mysterious experience of peace is felt. Lord’s two wives, Bhu Devi and Sree Devi also adorn the temple. The new highlight is the 21-feet golden chariot coated with 30 kg of gold. We finally left by buying a box of delicious Iaddus as prasad. In morning after 9:00 am, then we visited a few more temples. First, we visited Sri Padmavati Samovar Temple dedicated to Padmavati Goddess (the consort of Venkateshwara). Nestled at 5 km in Tiruchanoor, the temple is of great significance because it is believed that a visit to Tirumala is fruitful only if this temple is worshipped. Then, we visited Sri Kodandaramaswami Temple in the city centre, which is dedicated to Goddess Sita, Lord Lakshmana, and Lord Rama. Sri Govindarajaswami Temple is also a well-known landmark of the holy land where the elder brother of Lord Vishnu is revered. A stunning gopuram (monumental tower) soars so high that anyone can view it from a far distance. Eating Time The best south Indian food is served at the Idli Factory on G. Car Street, where we had our breakfast. One will surely love the taste of varieties of idlis served here at affordable prices. The Vrinda restaurant opposite Sri Govindarajaswami Temple serves Chinese, South Indian, and North Indian dishes at reasonable rates, where we had our lunch. Our dinner was at the Maurya restaurant in the T.P. area, which served a spicy Andhra thali. We simply got refreshed during this sanctifying voyage!