October 20, 2013

That Halo Behind The Head

On an average, about 50,000 to 1,00,000 people visit the Balaji Temple at Tirumala, Tirupathi everyday. On special occasions, the number may swell well beyond 3,00,000.
This Saturday, the estimated number was 2,50,000. I and my friend, Ravi 'Dude' Singh were two of them.

2,50,000 people.
Anybody who knows anything or has heard anything about being at that temple will make it very clear to you that you will stand in a seemingly infinitely long line.
2,50,000 people. If you make each one of them stand in one single line, exactly behind each other (and with one arm distance between them), the line would stretch right upto Bangalore. (The distance between Tirupathi and Bangalore being nearly 250 Kms.)

I am unsure what caused the rush that day. It was the weekend. Last night I did see a big full moon through the bus window. And I guess some sort of festivities were on too - some Kalyanotsava.
Well, what it meant for me was that, despite opting for a 300 bucks special ticket, it took me 8 god-hours to come out at the other end of the temple. Everyone's best estimate put it at 3-4 hours. But not that day.
8 hours. You could have gone back to Bangalore and came back before I entered the sanctum sanctorum of the temple.

What was all this for? I cannot say. Not that I am very religious, unless you discount the daily morning agarbatti (incesne stick) I light up (only because my mother asks me too) and my college-(semi)circle nickname Sangam (earned owing to a partially non-religious activity).
But I had wanted to visit it for some time now. And Tirupathi not being that far from Bangalore, only made it dependent on me deciding (when to get in that line).

Its a test. You are in there, with people (sometimes) getting too close to comfort; with the line just not moving (or worse - the line beside you moving while your is not). You can very well quit in the beginning, but later, when you are half the way there, quitting would take just as much toll on you as going ahead. You would not have your phone or your music; you can't just kill the queue-time like you normally do.

What you will do is think, talk and maybe when you got absolutely nothing else to turn your mind to, chant Govinda, govinda - maybe stressing more on the syllable 'GO' to set  your line moving miraculously. And it will.
Enroute Tirumala
Windmills at Tirumala
Sri Vari Temple
I and my dear devoted 'Dude' (who following the ritual, got his head shaved) had been on a self imposed upvaas vrat (fast). Going by the initial estimate, it was only a matter of 4 hours. We contemplated that this would truly enhance the flavour of the famous Tirupathi Laddoos. Although the things did get awry, we held our resolve, until the very end.

Its a big satisfaction, having completed the journey. One where barely any actual distance was covered, but each moment in those eight hours was felt in its entirety. One where the fatigue was way worth the reward (read Laddoos) and those final few minutes under the golden gopuram - when no matter if you are an atheist or a painted pandit - your eyes would just remain fixed at the great deity in front of you.

Rights to exaggeration and bragging reserved.
Its not how it happened; its how you remember it.
No characterisation intended.
Data and information may have been skewed to suit the storyline.
Everything is relative to your perspective.


  1. i guess u didnt take special tickets :) it takes just 4 hrs direct route no standing :)

  2. Liya tha naa :( 300 rupees ka ..still 8 hrs :D


pop a bubble.