According to Wikipedia Tirupati Balaji Temple attracts more than 60,000 (average) piligrims every day. And out of these 60,000 piligrims, many spend hours and sometimes as much as a day trying to understand the process of completing ‘Hari Darshan.’

I was one of these 60,000 piligrims on 1st Dec. And so I present what I learnt and understood in my own trials and tribulations. Here’s hoping, it proves to be beneficial for all those vying for ‘Hari Darshan’.

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The temple is in Tirumala, which is situated eighteen kilometres uphill from the city of Tirupati.

Nearest railway station to Tirumala: Tirupati (22Kms away)
Nearest airport to Tirumala: Tirupati (40kms away)
Alternate option: Chennai (166 kms away)

Taking a bus/cab to Tirumala from the choice of stay (Tirupati/Chennai)

Entrance toll gate for Tirumala
Right at the onset of the journey uphill towards Tiruamala comes the first toll gate. All passengers and cars have to undergo a security check in here. This includes:
Personal frisking
Baggage check in through x-ray machines
A thorough car checking
Please note that beyond this point no liquor, tobacco or cigarettes can go. If any such item is found in the baggage or on person they are invariable confiscated. 
Distance from entrance toll gate to end toll gate is 18kms. And the stipulated time that needs to taken by any vehicle to cover this is 28 minutes. Check in times between the two gates are recorded electronically and if any vehicle is found to be violating it (i.e reaching earlier) a penalty of 300 rupees is charged from the driver.
On both sides of the road leading upto Tirumala is a dense forest and an occasional deer spotting is a common sight on this way.

If you are planning to stay in Tirumala then a guesthouse needs to be booked in there

Approach the nearest inquiry station (such as Padmavati Inquiry station) and book your self a guesthouse according to your needs. Rooms tariff ranges from 50 rupees a night to 7000 rupees a night. Things to be noted while securing a room are:
Every room needs one owner photo id photostat.
If you need the room for more than a day, then 24 hours later an extension has to be solicited
A security amount is deposited which can be encashed while checking out. For example: if the room is for 150, a security amount of 350 will be deposited.
While checking out, the security money can be encashed from any of the caution money deposit counters spread across the campus.
Irrespective of the room tariff, all rooms have hot water systems available
Normally inquiry station could be at a distance from the allotted rooms. For this one can easily commute from one place to another using the free bus service plying every ten minutes or hire a full taxi (within the campus) for 100 rupees. 

Free Bus plying inside Tirumala Campus

Locations/options for eating out

Please note that none of the guesthouses have a canteen or an eat-in option. Therefore meals have to be taken at the food joints/ restaurants available within the campus.
Narayangiri Guest House-2 where we stayed; Sarangi was next door
If you are looking for value for money or not so expensive option then the main area in the campus called “Shopping complex” has many food joints offering that. Mostly south indian food will be available at these places.
If you are looking for a slightly improved ambience and seating arrangements, then you may try in-campus hotels such as Hotel Sarangi or Hotel Annamalaya. They have good service, more cuisines to choose from but prices on slightly higher side.
Most of these places stay open from morning 6.30 to 11.30 in night.

If you are staying in Tirupati/ Chennai and not going to stay in Tirumala

If you are staying in Tirupati/Chennai then you can take a taxi/cab to reach Tirumala. The entrance toll security check in as mentioned above will be applicable in your case too. 
You can choose from two options:
Either take a cab/taxi and keep it till the end of darshan using it to go back as well
Or take the cab/taxi/bus one way and then choose from the taxi/bus stand at Tirumala for way down.
Hari Darshan

There are five kinds of darshan:
Sarvadarshan- This is also called free darshan as it requires no token/ticket for entry
Sheeghra Darshan- This is also called the ‘quick darshan’. The fees for it is 300 rupees per person. Tickets for these are available at Vaikuntham Queue Complex (VQC-1). Mostly one needs to enter the barricades or pathways for the darshan and the tickets are made available inside. Please note the timings of this darshan below:
Divya Darshan- This darshan is for people reaching the temple by foot from the bottom of the hills.
Sudarshan Darshan- This has a fees of fifty rupees. And it was primarily introduced to facilitate free darshan’s total time. 
Special Darshan for physically disabled and aged- In this darshan a shorter and special pathway is created for people with disabilities and those who are senior citizen. Also parents with infants are included in this. A helped or an attendant is allowed in this for senior citizens/handicapped.
Please note that between Sarva Darshan, Sheeghra Darshan and Sudarshan Darshan- Sarva Darshan has the maximum time and path to cover before ‘hari darshan’ and Sheeghra Darshan has the minimum. 

Also note that mobile phones, bags and cameras are prohibited inside the temple. Just in case you are found to be carrying it then you may be sent back and asked to deposit the items in a cloak room. To avoid this, either place them in cloak rooms from before or not carry them.

Best case is to reach early say by 6:30 to have a hassle free darshan.

For more details do visit: Tirumala Darshan
Parshad: After coming out of the temple, there are dedicated ladoo.parshad counters where you can collect the ladoos. For example, in Sheeghra darshan, every person is eligible for two free ladoos.
If need be then please do drop in a comment with your query or you can also mail me with your concerns/questions at [email protected] .

For further reading:

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