Information and Tips
APSRTC offers a good tour package and you wouldn’t regret opting it. Points to be noted:
- Special entry for APSRTC customers – Saves at least an hour or two
- No Standing in queue for tickets – can save lot of stress and time
- Buses are not as comfortable as you would expect a Volvo or Mercedes to be
I have been apprehensive of visiting Tirupathi because I had heard that it takes about 3-6 hours to complete the Darshan and even days in some cases. However, somehow, I made my mind to visit the majestic Balaji temple, but more challenging was the selection of a tour operator. Most of the responses on the internet were mixed one and hence didn’t prove to be of much help, but led to confusion only. After a lot of research, we reached the conclusion that APSRTC was worth the risk as so many known people had also recommended it to us.
We were 2 families, 4 people. We reached at Sivananda circle around 8:45 pm to catch a bus scheduled around 9:30 pm. However, it kept getting delayed even though the Sivananda circle was the starting point. The waiting area was clean, comfortable and well maintained and therefore people didn’t mind sitting patiently even for an hour. The bus finally arrived an hour later.
We started at around 10:30 pm and reached Tirupati at around 4:00 am. The tour guide made an entry into the bus at this point. He briefed us about the plan and gave us an hour to freshen up and get ready. We were given a room in an APSRTC hotel on twin sharing basis. The rooms were clean and spacious enough for the purpose. A guy continuously kept us alarming about the remaining time so that no one falls asleep and everyone gets ready well in time.
Padmavati Temple, Tirupati
We all were in a bus before 5:10 pm for heading to the temple. The tour guide briefed us about our first destination while the driver took us towards our destination – Padmavati Temple. In less than 20 minutes, we were at the temple. We were required to purchase a ticket worth Rs. 20-30/- (don’t remember exactly) and then stand in a long queue, where we waited for the Lord’s worship to get over as the entry to the public was permitted only after that. It didn’t take us long to finish the Darshan and we were out by 6:00 am. At the prasadam counter we bought 2 ladoos for 20 Rs. and ate them there itself as we were really hungry.
The bus then took us to a point where another APSRTC mini bus was waiting for us. It was supposed to take us to Tirumala. The route to Tirumala was on a hilly terrain and comprised of a number of sharp curves. We made it to Tirumala in about an hour. There was a huge crowd at the toll gate which was a bit intimidating. However, I was prepared for it.
After reaching the top, the tour operator asked us if anyone would like to get their heads tonsured. Two people expressed their willingness and were asked to get down at some point midway, along with the tour guide. The tour guide instructed us to reach the market and wait at Shop no. 78 and deposit our belongings like mobiles, and any other electronic items.
There weren’t many eating options there, however, we took Idali, Wada and Tea at one of the local stall and tamed our hunger. The guide returned in half an hour and asked all of us to follow. Then came the best part of the trip which was a surprise to me.
He told us that there is a special entry gate for tourists who came by APSRTC and entry through this gate will save us a lot of time. He also didn’t ask us to stand in any line to get the tickets. Wonderful! It relaxed some of the tension that I had since we started.
He got the tickets and got us entry inside the campus as he had promised. In a few minutes, we reached a waiting room where we sat for about 2 hours before we joined the main queue. Once we were in the main queue it took us less than 45 minutes to finish the Darashan and come out.
During the darshan, I had kept some money in my hand to pay tribute to the lord Tirupati. All the money is actually to be deposited in a Piggy bank created by the trust for the lord. However, the staff standing near the lord’s statue who were pushing people quickly to make way for others snatched it from my hand and gave me 2 minutes extra for Darshan just because they had taken some money from me.
Though I liked it because I had more time for Darshan, hated them for such cheap behavior in lord’s holy place.
We finished the darshan, gathered at the same market shop and waited for others. We got about 30 minutes time during which we again took some snacks and tea. We were very hungry and wanted to have lunch but the guide told us that bus will stop on the way back and we can have it there. It took us about an hour before we could reach there.
The bus stopped at an isolated APSRTC resort which was standing against the backdrop of a huge rocky mountain. The heat of the day was unbearable, but the clean and beautiful resort relieved the stress. The food was also hygienic and decent in taste, that too for a very reasonable price of Rs. 88/- only. These all benefits were just because we travelled through APSRTC.
While leaving we inquired about the resort and came to know that it was a newly built adventure resort which was about to be inaugurated soon.