Thursday, May 31, 2012

Atthi Giri AruLALan 's VaikAsi BrahmOtsavam

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Badrinath yatra - Panch Badri

Panch Badri route

Yog Badri (1920m)
From badrinath drive towards joshimath, after 23 kms you arrive at yog badri which is near pandukeshwar, accomodation is available at govind gath which is just 3 kms away

Bhavishya Badri (2744m)
From joshimath drive 15kms to tapovan then another 4kms to saldhar then 6kms trek to bhavishya badri
Accomodation is available at tapovan
Idol at Bhavishya Badri

Vridh Badri (1380m)
From joshimath drive towards pipalkoti, after 20kms just before helang is vridh badri

Adi Badri (1180m)
From karna prayag (take the road which goes to ranikhet) drive 6kms to shimli then 13kms drive to adi badri

Karya Siddhi Hanuman,Cochin

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Badrinath Travelogue part 1

Jai Badri Vishal

I have been planning to visit badrinath/Joshimath from 2010 and didt know whom to approach/how to plan/ and language was a main barrier for me. I didt had any information about the tour operators initially. When I got information about some tour operators I was not happy with their iternary as I could not get so many days leave. so I was looking for a short trip of 1 week duration. I wanted to stay 2 days in badrinath as against many tour operators were reaching badrinath in the evening for night stay and leave badrinath next day morning after the dharsan.

Earlier in January 2012 I got information about tour operators in Delhi and Haridwar. Tour operators in Delhi had a flexible plan and the tour operators from Haridwar were forcing me to take atleast 2 Dhams. There are 4 pilgrimage places in uttranchal and they call them as Dhams. so if you book the tour from Haridwar you need to take 4dhams(Badrinath/Kedarnath/Gangothri and yamunothri) which will be covered over 11 days. They charge 13999 per person and if you choose to visit one dham it will be 7500 upwards. The packages are operated in Bus. If you choose to book Jeeps/cars/tempo traveller then the charges will be decided on per km.

I wanted to visit only Badrinath and after enquiring with many operators I got a basic idea of location/climate/accommodation. I decided to take risk and travel on my own and I spoke to few friends and only one friend was ready to visit badrinath.

I browsed the internet and found some useful travelogues which I used as inputs for my planning. Once the draft version of plan was ready, I immediately booked the train tickets in February 2012 for to and fro tickets from Bangalore-Delhi/Delhi -Haridwar/Haridwar-Rishikesh.

Once I booked the tickets I was searching for more travelogues and made changes to my trip. I also referred my plan to members of various forums who were visiting badrinath every year and took their suggestions.

Two days before my journey I got to know that token systems have been introduced in badrinath and it was helping to reduce the crowd.

We boarded the train on 18th of May 2012 at 20.20hrs and reached Delhi Nizamuddin station at 7am on 20th May 2012. Our train to Haridwar was at 11am, so we got refreshed in the AC waiting room and left for Humayun's tomb which is less than a km from Hazrat Nizamuddin station. As the temperature was soaring we were resting in the park.

Our train was late by 30 minutes and we reached haridwar at 4.30pm. We booked a room at Hotel Kailash near the Haridwar Railway station. This room was very spacious and clean. This hotel has rooms with 2,3,4,5 bed facility. We paid 600 for a double room.  Haridwar is in the plains and has a normal temperature around 30-35 degrees. Daytime is very long in Haridwar/Rishikesh and all the way enroute Badrinath. Daylight starts at 5am and it starts getting dark at 7.30pm. sunrises at 5.30am.

After taking bath we went to Hari ka pauri to take a dip in ganga and witness Ganga aarthi. Hari Ka pauri is 2.5kms from the railway station and there are plenty of autos/rickshaws. It will be a nice experience if you walk throught the streets of haridwar and reach hari ka pauri. when we reached Hari ka pauri we were shocked to see the crowd gathered to witness ganga aarthi. The atmosphere was very divine, one has to visit haridwar to enjoy it. Many people come to haridwar only to take a dip in ganga and witness Ganga Aarthi. Also plastic cans are available in all sizes. People buy them and fill ganga water and carry home.

After ganga aarthi I went to bus stand to enquire about buses to joshimath and badrinath. We went to enquiry counter and the person was not helpful as we enquired in English. He kept on yelling in hindi that there are no buses to badrinath tomorrow morning only.

We left the enquiry counter and checked with few conductors. All of them told that buses/share jeeps will leave for badrinath/joshimath from outside the bus stand at 3am.

Next day morning we reached Bus stand at 4am and only rishikesh buses were available. There were no signs of share jeeps or buses to badrinath. We kept on asking different people and we were asked to go to rishikesh and plenty of buses are available. We didt want to waste the time and got into the rishikesh bus immediately. We reached rishikesh at 5am and we were shocked to see more than 200 people waiting for bus to arrive. We waited and waited till 7am and there were no buses. when enquired we were told that only 2 buses ply between Hrishikesh/badrinath and all were booked for next 3 days. We checked with private taxi and they were demanding 7500-9000 for a one way drop to badrinath.

We tried till 8am and returned to Haridwar.We booked the same hotel room and went to all the tour operators in haridwar. All of them gave the same answer. Since it was peak season all the private buses/share jeeps were booked for next 3 days and they will arrange the tickets only after 3 days.

We returned to room and the chances to visit badrinath was very less. We spent the day and returned to Hari Ka Pauri for Ganga arthi. After Ganga aarthi we went for a long walk in the streets of Haridwar. we visited many temples on the banks of ganges and returned to our room. We were tired and slept well.

Next day morning we were determined to catch the bus at any cost and reached the haridwar bus stand at 4am. We were running around searching for buses and shared jeeps till 4.30am. By then couple of police men arrived and they were enquiring for jeeps to Rudraprayag. We requested them for help and explained them in our broken hindi. The Travel union were ready to operate the jeep only till srinagar and they wanted 10 persons or pay 2500 for one way trip from haridwar to srinagar. I and my friend ran around searching for people who were waiting to catch the badrinath bus. In 15 minutes we managed with 4 people. The 2 policeman somehow found 2 people. We were total of 10 and Jeep left haridwar at 5am. I and my friends could not believe that we have started our journey to badrinath. Srinagar was 132km from haridwar and we reached Srinagar(this is different from srinagar in jammu & kashmir) at 8.45am. We paid 250 per head for one way trip from haridwar to Srinagar.

Once we reached srinagar we rushed to bus stand and badrinath bus was ready to leave. But the bus was already full and few people were standing.  We were told that this year the inflow of tourists was very high and all the hotels/buses and cabs were prebooked till June.

I and my friend were discussing and suddenly we heard a voice in tamil. we turned and saw 4 people from various parts of tamilnadu approached us and requested us to join them to reach badrinath.

The funny part was none of 6 people knew Hindi. one person somehow managed to convince the jeep driver for 4000 which were equally divided among 6 of us.

We stopped for lunch at pipalkoti and reached joshimath. We had a quick dharsan at joshimath and left for badrinath. We reached badrinath at 4pm. Thanks to jeep driver for safe driving.

Blasting of rock which had landed on middle of road due to land slide.

Ice berg covered by sand, looks like typical mountain. you should carefully avoid them or lose your tyres
Cimbed down from the opposite mountain and climbing up this mountain
This is joshimath on the pictures to see the long queue of vehicles.

We were lucky to pass thru the gates without waiting bothways. thanks to badrinathji

Our first stop in badrinath was at jeeyar mutt. Jeeyar mutt was full and we had to look for dharmasalas elsewhere. We were asked to come for prasadam. We spent 1hr and found a dharmasala diagonally opposite to Badrinath temple on the banks of Alakanandha river. we paid 200 for double room for 24hrs. The room had attached bathroom and it was clean. The person incharge asked us to contact him directly and he will definitely arrange for room in dharmasala. some photos from jeeyar mutt.

Jeeyar mutt -0.5kms from Badrinath busstand

we rested in room for 30 minutes and went to have a view of badrinath temple from outside.

Will continue in part 2 shortly....

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Trip to Tirupathi -2

Alipiri Route- continued

Gali Gopuram- tirumala entrance on the hill [Source: Google Images]

Devotees who reach tirumala by Alpiri can visit more temples en route, like narasimha swamy temple, anjaneya temple. I have not been in this route though. Also there is a enclosure set by the forest department which houses more than 30 deers. Eatables, drinking water and toilets are available enroute to tirumala. You have to pass through bio metric process (involves finger print, photos) 2 or 3 times enroute. This will capture the time you reach each centre. This is to ensure devotees travel the complete path and don't go back by cab after climbing few steps. Priority for free rooms will be taken care when you reach tirumala.  When Free darshan takes you 6hrs to see the lord, the pedestrian walk will take 4hrs to see the lord. once you reach tirumala, you can collect the baggages and put them in a cloak room designated for pedestarian walkers. TTD runs many cloak rooms in tirumala and each cloak room is designated for different devotees. so make sure you deposit the baggages in right cloak room. you must switch off the mobile phones and handover in the cloak room along with the baggages. but baggages and mobile will be placed in different places. They will put a label on the mobile and keep them safely in cupboard. so no need to worry about baggages, luggages and footwears. The cloakrooms will take care of these and you ensure peaceful dharsan.

Source : Google Images

Source : Google Images

Once you deposit your belongings you can join the designated queues located in different complex. they will check the biometric slips when they let you inside. They will put you inside an auditorium(looks similar to stands in stadium). Each enclosure can accomodate 250 peoples and they have one entry and 2 exits. There are multiple toilets/bathrooms (10 per enclosure). You will be served free food every 2-3hrs along with drinking water. Tea/coffee/milk is also served for free. Food and beverages(milk/tea/coffee) are free and people will rush to collect them. there are no restrictions to the quantity served. There is huge LCD which telecasts SVBC channels and purana movies like mahabharatha,ramayana and many other classics. once you enter the enclosure the entry gates will be locked. you can also see the approximate time of dharsan near the entry of enclosure. They will update date and time of dharsan.

In case of emergency or if you wish to make calls you will be given a photo identity card and you will have 1hr or 2hrs to return. The timings will be allowed after assessing  the need for moving out. You have to return before the time mentioned in the photocard. You will not be allowed if you come after the said timings. In this case you will be treated as a new devotee and you will be put in different enclosure along with the devotees entering at that time.

once your dharsan time is due the exit gates will be opened and devotees starting rushing. all will be chanting govinda, govinda..and then the crowd moves forward. your next stop is to verify the biometric slip in case if you had come by walk. In case of sarvadharsanam queue. you will be put in a queue where you need to pay 5rs for one laddu. after this you will see the lord in 1hrs time.

The second route to reach tirumala by walk is srivari mettu. Very less known and more people started walking in this route recently. The route is clean and facilities are good. This way is not crowded like the famous alipiri route. As per history krishnadeva raya and many other kings used to visit tirumala in this route. To walk in this route you have to travel 16kms from Tirupathi Railway station. TTD runs free buses from Tirupathi bus station an Railway station to Srivari mettu. But the frequency is less. You better take a bus and reach srinivasa mangapuram (very less known to other state people). Have dharsan here and take share autos to srivari mettu which is 6kms from here. There is no separate shrine for thayar and lord srinivasa is very beautiful. All sevas to the lord are performed as in tirumala and you can get tickets easily after reaching there. The srivari mettu route takes you directly to backside of tirumala temple. Will share more information once I visit this route.

To be continued...

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Vaduvur Shri Kothandaramaswamy Thirukkalyanauthsavam on 6th May 2012

For complete album please click here

For temple information please Click here