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Category: Andhra Pradesh

Tirumala Tirupati Balaji Darshan

Tirupati, a town in the Chittoor district of the South Indian state Andhra Pradesh is the most visited sacred center in India, witnessing more than one lakh devotees every day .The most sought after pilgrim destination where Lord Venkateshwara Swamy Temple is situated at a distance of 20kms and is the icon of Tirupati and of the entire state as well. Visiting Tirupati atleast once in a life time is believed to be a must for Vaishnavites across the globe. The nine feet idol which is the self- manifested form of Lord Vishnu will mesmerize you with its beauty and sanctity. This is the 106th Divya Desam mentioned in the holy canon of Vaishnavaites, Naalaayira Divya Prabhandam written by different saints between 6th and 8th AD and composed by the saint Naadha Muni The ravishing sculptures and the huge pillars along the long precincts make your trip to Tirupati most memorable one. It will be quite surprising to know that 50,000 to 1,00,000 people per day are visiting this temple making it to 30 to 40 million people annuallyThe huge dining halls where more than one lakh people are fed, the offerings making this temple the richest in the world, the laddu prasadham unique to this temple are some of the highlights of Tirupati.

During your trip to Tirupati, following are the must visit places.The Silathoranam Gardens – The natural hanging rocks believed to exist from the Precambrian era, Thiruchanur – The temple for the consort of Lord Venkateshwara , Goddess Padmavathy Thayar, Tada Falls – en route from Chennai to Tirupati, Sri kalahasthi – Lord Shiva temple, famous as one of the five Shiva temples representing the five elements of the universe and Sri Vaari Padham – the place believed to have the foot prints of Lord Venkateshwara.

The number of festivals celebrated in Tirupati temple is more than the number of days in a year. Lord Venkateswara blesses His devotees from 2.30 am to 1pm every day. On any day you go to the temple, one festival will be in progress in a pomp manner. To name a few, Srivaari Brahmothsavam, Vasanthothsavam , Dolothsavam and Rathothsavam are some of the festivals attended by lakhs of devotees. The temple practices include prasadam, Tonsuring, Hundi and Thulabaram.

Types of Darshans in Tirumala Tirupati:

As the crowd thronging the temple on all days of the year is unimaginably huge, the temple management has segregated the darshan into different streams. One  of them is the Sarva Darshan , which means , Darshan for all. The pilgrims wait in long queues to have the glimpse of God and the timings for the Sarvadharshan are updated in the temple website. All the needed amenities for people waiting in queues are done in the compartments called Vaikuntam Queue Complex II. The Sarva dharshan is open for 18 to 20 hours a day and the devotees wait for many hours for their turn.

Arjitha sevas are the specific timings where the devotees prebook for their slots and attend the sevas. The daily, weekly and annual sevas are listed in the website and the tickets are sold by the temple management. Those who want to attend the sevas can follow the norms to buy the tickets.

Special Entry Dharshan is the stream where the devotees pay Rs.300 to go into a special queue. The time spent will be little less compared to the Sarva Dharshan but the devotees need to wait for hours in the queue on festival days.

South Tourism and Andhra Pradesh Development Corporation have entered into an agreement to reach more number of devotees aspiring to have the dharshan in quicker time spans. Through this, dharshan of Lord Venkateswara Swamy is guaranteed within two hours accompanied by a guide and two laddus are distributed per person after you come out. The procedure has been made simpler and to know more please visit https://www.southtourism.in/tirupati-darshan


A weekend visit to Nagarjunakonda in Andhra Pradesh

Nagarjunakonda

Nagarjunakonda is one of the most noted Buddhist pilgrimage sites in India. It was a fully developed metropolis and a renowned Buddhist learning centre for years. Students from all over India and from countries such as China, Sri Lanka and much more used to reside here and undertook their Buddhist studies. If you are a Buddha follower, you must not miss Nagarjunakonda at Andhra Pradesh. It was the construction of the Nagarjuna Sagar Dam which led to the discovery of various Buddhist artefacts and scriptures and thus it was concluded that the area was home to an ancient Buddhist civilization 1800 years ago. The collection was then transferred, reassembled and preserved on an island hill spanning 144 acres surrounded by the River Krishna.

Nagarjunakonda

History goes like, Nagarjuna, a famous scholar of Mahayana Buddhism lived here during the 2nd century AD and it was his influence which spread Buddhism in the Southern parts of India and South Eastern parts of the Asian continent. Thus, the place was named after him, Nagarjunakonda or Nagarjuna Hill [Konda in the Telugu language means hill]. Though I am a Hindu, I am very much interested in Buddhist principles as well. I decided to make a visit and see for myself what we have got to see at Nagarjunakonda.

I started early in the morning from Hyderabad to Nagarjunakonda. It is a 4-hour journey covering nearly 160 km. The roads are great which helped me reach Nagarjuna Sagar dam in 3.5 hours. This huge dam we all know is an Earth dam and is one of the largest of its kind.

Nagarjunakonda
Nagarjunasagar dam

The location is a beautiful, green and hilly area. The ferry launch station is again a 15-minute drive which involves few hairpin bends as well. I reached the ferry area and paid my entrance fees. For foreign nationals, it costs Rs. 200/head and for Indians, 20 Rs/head. Also, there are fixed ferry timings, 9:30 am and 1:30 pm every day. Ferry ride fee is Rs 120 for adults and 100 for children.

Nagarjunakonda
Nagarjunakonda Ferry Launch Station

The ferry timing for me was 1: 30 pm and it was only 12. I grabbed 2 Bhajjis [local snack] and tea from a local tea shop, fast forwarded 1 hour and I walked on to the boarding spot. I was amazed by the beauty of the surrounding landscape in front of me.  I hopped onto one of the three motorboats parked by the side. I was informed it would be a 45 minutes ferry ride to reach the Nagarjunakonda island museum. It is the only island museum in India and two of the same in the world. One is at Berlin, Germany and the other is at Nagarjunakonda, Andhra Pradesh.

Nagarjunakonda Ferry ride
Nagarjunakonda Ferry ride

There were nearly 20 passengers on board, all tourists from different parts of the country. As we moved, we enjoyed some gorgeous views of the island and the Krishna River. We could see locals rowing round country boats looking for a good catch. 35 mins gone and I could see the walls of the island museum. The museum is opened to visitors from morning 9 am to 4 pm every day except Friday. It is closed on Fridays.

Nagarjunakonda Island Museum
Nagarjunakonda Island Museum

I started walking my way to the museum. The Nagarjunakonda island museum is a near 500 m walk from the boat dropping point. I reached the museum. Cameras are not allowed inside. I went on to check out all the collections on display. The collection of the museum consists stone tools, coins, scriptures of Lord Buddha and of Mucalinda, the Naga [serpent], spears, hammers, carvings narrating the story of Buddha from his birth to his Mahaparinirvana and lot more of other antiquities. An earring and a tooth are also up for display here, which many believe is among the corporeal remains of Lord Buddha himself. I spent next half an hour at the museum.

Nagarjunakonda
A Buddha Statue at Nagarjunakonda

I followed the crowd to find what else there is to see. First, we came across the Maha Stupa, which is the oldest monument here at Nagarjunakonda. We reached a spot where I found a stupa and a broken statue of Lord Buddha standing tall, probably 10 feet tall. 100 meters to its right there is another Chaitya stupa belonging to 3rd century CE. Later I returned to the boarding point and left the island. I enjoyed the 45 minutes cruise back to the ferry launch station. For me, it was the highlight of the Nagarjunakonda tour.


Why Vizag tour is trending? Best tourist places in Vizag

Vizag tour

This was coming! Vizag, previously known as Vishakhapatnam, has recently gained popularity among the travel community and is the next hotspot in travel. Situated in Andhra Pradesh and one of the largest city in the state, the port city of Vishakhapatnam houses the oldest shipyard in India. Vizag has a lot to offer its visitors. Starting from the exotic beaches of Rushikonda and Ramakrishna to the ancient Borra caves and the blissful hills of Arakku valley, if you are planning for a Vizag tour? Do not think twice, just set off a journey to enjoy a one of a kind travel experience.

Below I am listing out the top tourist places in Vizag to visit-

  • Arakku Valley
Vizag tour
Arakku Valley

Arakku Valley definitely tops this list of “Best tourist places in Vizag” owing to its rich greenery, stunning hills and awesome weather which every traveller craves for. A Vizag tour is never complete without making a visit to this paradise. It is nearly 1000 meters above the sea level and 120 kms away from the city of Vishakhapatnam [Vizag]. A day is not enough to see all places in Arakku Valley, it would take at least 2 to 3 days to fully enjoy Arakku. There are numerous spots to explore such as the Dumbriguda Waterfalls, tribal museum the Matsyagundam [Fish pool], the Tyda Park and more. Stroll through its lush green coffee plantations, spend time at the mountain tops, or get wet beneath the roaring waterfalls at Arakku Valley. The tribals of Arakku make one of the best varieties of organic coffee. The train ride to Arakku Valley from Vizag is pretty famous among travellers. It is the only train in India which reaches the highest point in the Eastern Ghats. The 4 hour train journey exposes you to some breathtaking sceneries of Nature.

  • Borra Caves
Vizag Tour
Borra Caves

Located 88 kms from Vizag and 36 kms from Arakku Valley, the Borra Caves hold the title of the “Biggest Caves in India”. It was unknown to the outside world until 1807. Geologists date these limestone caves to be more than 150 million years old, YES! You heard it right, it is indeed 150 million years. At a height of 1400 meters above the sea level, the Borra Caves is a pure natural wonder. If you are into some adventure and love trekking, you would definitely enjoy the trek route up the Borra Caves. As you reach the caves, it would be a whole new world for you, you feel as if you have travel back in time. The air inside, the rocks, small waterfalls everything feels ancient. A visit to Borra Caves is not to be missed while exploring Vizag.

  • Rushikonda Beach
Vizag Tour
Rushikonda Beach

Are you a beach lover? Then Rushikonda is your next love. It is the most famous beach in Andhra Pradesh. Imagine the sight, golden sands clubbed with verdant coconut trees, sea waves hitting the rocky shoreline and the mouth-watering seafood. Do you love Adventure water sports? Surfing? Skiing? Yes? Rushikonda is for you. There are plenty of water sports options for you to get engaged and entertained with. Make a visit to Rushikonda Beach for a perfect beach holiday. Located just 40 km from Vizag it is easily accessible.

  • Bheemli Beach
Vizag Tour
Bheemli Beach

Just 24 km from Vizag, this is yet another great seaside at Vizag. Bheemli Beach is of great historical importance. It was one among the major Dutch Settlements in the 17th Century and a major trading hub for the British East India Company later. A 16th century Dutch Cemetery and an 18th century lighthouse are the major attractions at Bheemli.

 

  • Thotlakonda Buddhist excavation site
Vizag Tour
Thotlakonda Buddhist Site

Located 20 kms from Vizag on the way to the Bheemli Beach is this ancient Buddhist site named Thotlakonda. It comprises of the ruins of a Buddhist monastery and an advanced center for learning where monks within India and from China, Burma used to reside and learn Buddhist teachings for months. The Thotlakonda Hills are clustered with Buddhist stupas, pillared prayer halls, meditation rooms, stone pathways and many water wells. Archaeologists state the area was active during the period BC 200 to AD 200. Thotlakonda is of huge spiritual importance for the Buddhists and definitely an entertaining site for the history fanatics who love to get deep into the history books. It is a must visit if you are in for a Vizag tour.

  • Katiki Waterfalls
Vizag Tour
Katiki Waterfalls

90 kms away from Vizag and 7 kms from Borra Caves is this spectacular waterfalls named Katiki, also known as Katika. It takes a short trek of likely 25-30 mins through dense forest and hills to reach the falls and the trek route is simply beautiful and pleasing. This 100 feet cascading waterfalls is a delight for family travellers and offers many other exciting trekking routes for the adventure junkies and nature lovers as well.

 

  • INS Kursura Submarine Museum
Vizag Tour
INS Kursure Submarine Museum

The INS Kursura Submarine Museum is one of the very few submarine museums which retain authenticity and definitely a must visit spot in Vizag. The INS Kursura [S20], Kalvari-class diesel-electric submarine was India’s fifth submarine. It was of great use during the Indo-Pak war of 1971. The submarine was decommissioned in 2001 after which it is preserved as a museum for the public.

  • Tyda Nature Camp
Vizag Tour
Tyda Nature Camp

Tyda Nature Camp, also known as the Jungle Bells Nature Camp is an eco-tourism project at a small tribal village known as Tyda. Set amidst the hills of Eastern Ghats, Tyda is located 70 kms from Vizag on the way to Arakku Valley. Established by the Andhra Pradesh Tourism Department and the Forest Department, it offers camping, rock climbing, trekking, bird-watching and many other exciting activities. Log huts and tents are available at the Camp. It is a perfect getaway for nature lovers and adventure enthusiasts.

 

So, there you have it, the Best tourist places in Vizag!

Ready to explore Vizag?

Plan your Vizag tour now! Log on to South Tourism

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Happy Travelling! 🙂


Mahamasthaka abhisheka – Bahubali statue Shravanabelagola

The first among the seven wonders in India, the largest monolithic statue in the world, attracting thousands of tourists every day is the statue of Gommateswara or Bahubali installed in the place called Shravanabelagola. You can reach this place which is at 51 km to the south of the state center Hassan in Karnataka. The place is at a distance of 83 kms from Mysore and 158 kms from Bangalore. The statue stands as the testimony for the religion Jainism which was predominantly followed before 10th century AD in Karnataka as a Digambara Monastic Tradition. The place has seen many dynasties right from Ganga Kings, Rashtrakutas, Hoysalas, Vijayanagara Empire and finally the Royal Mysore House Wodaiyars. Sharavanabelagola is actually on two hills called Chandragiri and Vindhyagiri. The Mourya King Chandragupta Mourya is believed to have spent his last days here leading an ascetic life. There are eight temples in these two hills built by different Kings during different centuries. This place finds mentions in various Historic records with its more than 800 inscriptions illustrating the growth of Kannada Language and Literature.

The 58 feet tall Gommateswarar statue, installed in the 981 AD by the then King Chavundaraya to honor his mother, stands on the hill Vindhyagiri with lot of inscriptions in the Devanagari script on its base. The Lord is called as “Bahubali” by Jains. There has been a wonderful tradition of anointing this huge statue every twelve years. From the inscriptions, we come to know that the anointing festival called “Mahamasthaka Abhisheka” took place for the first time in 1398 AD and recently it was in 2006. So , the entire Karnataka and people living abroad following Jainism are eagerly looking forward the next anointing ceremony in 2018. The next Maha Masthaka Abhisheka (Maha – Big, Masthaka – Head, Abhisheka – Anointing) falls on February 21st 2018. The events related to this have  already started and the next event is between August 11th and August 13th, 2017, titled as All India Jain Women Conference.

The anointing festival is formally inaugurated on February 7th , 2018 with the religious rituals performed by the Pontiffs in Jainism. The actual celebration falls on February 21st, 2018. Lakhs of devotees from across the world will be attending this festival and the Prime Minister of the country with the other VVIPs from the state and central will be witnessing the ceremonies. The huge statue will be anointed with water, turmeric, rice flower, sugar cane juice, sandalwood paste, saffron, gold and Silver flowers.

Come and join us in witnessing the world’s largest free-standing statue being anointed and get the blessings of Lord Bahubali.