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Tips to climb Tirumala hills

Venkatesa Samam Sthanam Brahmaande Naasti Kinchanah
Venkatesa Samo Devo Na Bhooto Na Bhavishyati

Tirumala - the abode of Lord Venkateswara is popularly known by the name Kaliyuga Vaikuntham or Bhooloka Vaikuntham. A visit to this most important pilgrim place spiritually elevates your mind with divine thoughts and takes you to a world which is full of divinity. You completely forget yourself when you fully immerse in the reverberating chanting of Om Namo Venkatesaya and Om Namo Narayana besides the continuous audio play of Annamayya Keertanalu. The entire atmosphere in Tirumala is spread with positive / divine vibes which is sure to bring positive thoughts in your mind and helps in recharging your mind, body and soul as well.

If you are planning to climb the 7 hills of Tirumala in your next trip, you need not take tensions on how to climb the hills but you will enjoy and take home memorable and thrilling experiences with you.

Reaching the uphills of Tirumala in a public transit (APSRTC - Andhra Pradesh State Road Transport Corporation - buses) which ply frequently from Tirupati downhills to Tirumala uphills  or going in a private vehicle on the ghat roads of the 7 hills gives you good enjoyment.  You can see the big statue of Garuda - the divine eagle or the vehicle of Lord Vishnu - before you enter Alipiri.

You will have even more thrilling experience and enjoyment, when you climb the 7 hills of Tirumala by foot. Here are some of the useful tips which would be helpful to the devotees who intend to climb the 7 hills of Tirumala.

Before you start your journey of climbing the hills, first let us know the names of the 7 hills. These are Vrushabhaadri, Anjanaadri, Neelaadri, Garudaari, Seshaadri, Narayanaadri and Venkataadri. There are two well-laid footpath ways to Tirumala provided by the TTD (Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams) for the convenience of the devotees who climb the 7 hills to fulfill their vows. These footpath ways are called the sopana margalu. The older of the two which starts from the foothills of Alipiri is about 11 Km long and this is the commonly used route by the devotees. The other footpath way which is a newer one is called Srivari Mettu and it starts from the foothills of Chandragiri.  The route is not much used by the devotees though it is 6 Km in length.

TTD provides many facilities to the pilgrims who climb the hills by foot. Some of the important ones are:
  1. Free APSRTC buses from Tirupati Railway Station to the foot of Alipiri which run every half-an-hour. You can even take private vehicles from your hotel to Alipiri.
  2. Bio-metric counters at the entrance of footpaths which facilitate the pilgrim for free accommodation in the uphills, free darshan of the Lord and free food at Annadanam.
  3. Token counters at the entrance of these footpaths for ticket darshans. 
  4. Free transportation of luggage to Tirumala. This is one of the best facilities provided by the TTD as you can deposit all your luggage at any of the choultries in Tirupati or at the Toll Gate or at the entrance of footpath at Alipiri and walk up the steps happily. Make sure to lock your baggage as unlocked baggage is not accepted. Also it is advisable not to leave your valuables in the baggage. You will be given a token on handing over the luggage at the counters which you need to produce at the luggage counter close near the Central Reception Office (CRO) in Tirumala for the delivery of your luggage. It takes less than 2 hours for transporting the luggage.
  5. Drinking water taps all along the way.
  6. Toilet facility at certain points on the way.
  7. Shelters at some of the important places on the way.
  8. Continuous patrolling of security forces.
  9. 24-hours medical assistance all along the way.
  10. Canteens by private people for supply fresh foods.

General information

The entire area of Tirumala which include all the 7 hills is considered highly sacred by the Hindus. It is believed that each stone on these sacred hills is a form of Saligramam (a highly sacred stone for Hindus in general and Vaishnavites in particular. It is a spherical shaped, black colored fossil stone which is believed to be a representation of Lord Vishnu). Each tree on these hills represent the great sages of the past which keep continuously chanting Omkara mantram.These trees have high medicinal value. 

Climbing the steps of the 7 hills is considered a festival or utsav for some sects who call it as Mettlotsavam. Many groups of pilgrims climb the hills singing devotional songs / bhajans. Some pilgrim who take a vow, perform metla pooja while climbing the steps which including either burning camphor on each and every step or smearing of turmeric paste and applying kumkum. There are very few pilgrim who undergo hard penance and climb the hills (mostly only the 7th hill) on their knees.

It is believed that the range of seven hills of Tirumala appear to like a coiled serpent with seven peaks from the aerial view. Hence it got its name as Seshachalam from the Adi Seshu or the Divine Serpent with seven hoods which makes the mattress / couch for Lord Vishnu

Before beginning the journey, some of the basic rules to be followed at the time of climbing the steps:

  • As the whole range of hills is considered to be highly sacred, pilgrims need to climb the hills bare footed.    
  • Avoid taking non-veg food, smoking and consuming of alcohol.
  • Refresh yourself with a bath before climbing.
  • Courtesy: Google Images
  • Concentrate on the Lord and keep chanting the hymns of god or sing devotion songs.
You can have a look at the route map for a clear idea of the route for climbing the 7 sacred hills of Tirumala.  Climbing the 1st hill or the Alipiri / Mokaala Parvatam is too strenuous as the steps are too steep. The hill ends on reaching the giant Naamaalu and Sankhu Chakraalu known as Namala konda which is visible from Tirupati - downhill 

Useful tips for the journey

Courtesy: Google Images
Round the year, the journey of climbing the steps in enjoyable. However, it would be difficult in the hot summer in the months of April / May. It is enjoyable in the rainy season when you can have the thrill of walking through the clouds on the cloud-clad hills. If you like the chill winter, you can enjoy walking through the mist in the winter as well. During other seasons it is better to start your journey in the mornings as it takes around 3.5 to 4 hours or even more depending on your fitness and the pace of your climbing up the steps. There are around 3650 steps with a stretch of over 2 Km plain road. The steps of the 1st mountain (Alipiri also known as Mokala Parvatam) are too steep and it takes almost more than 1 hour to climb this hill. This is the toughest part of the journey where much of your energy is drained off and if you are a first timer, then you will doubt whether you can successfully climb all the hills or not.  

You can see Gali Gopuram which is the final point of 1st hill. The first thing to keep in mind is to climb the steep steps of the 1st hill in a comfortable pace. Before you start your trekking, pray the Lord of Seven Hills with full devotion and seek His blessings and start your journey by chanting His name. 

Yedu Kondalavada Venkataramama
Govinda!! Govinda!!

Once you start your upward journey, you might find groups of people running up the steps with a competitive spirit. Of course, at times running up the steps with a competitive spirit might make you forget your tiresomeness but not always. So make sure to climb the steps at your own pace which helps you in overcoming the strain.

Courtesy: Google Images
The best way to get rid of the strain of climbing the steps is to go in groups and keep yourself engaged in jovial talks with your family / friends. You can sit on the paves and rest for a while after climbing a distance. But do not sit for too long a period as this will make you lethargic to resume climbing. Another important thing to keep in mind is avoid drinking soft drinks while climbing these steep steps as this will bloat your tummy and you might feel highly uncomfortable and find difficulty in breathing. Instead you can take glucose water or some energy drink to cope up with the situation. Avoid consuming too much of water or drinks as this will bloat your tummy. 

Understand your energy levels and accordingly climb the steps with a comfortable pace when you reach Gali Gopuram (also known as Namala Konda) - the first destination where you find the gigantic electrified symbols of Sankha (conch), Chakra (disc), Namalu (trident smear on the forehead of Lord Vishnu and His followers).  Chant the name of Govinda Govinda on reaching the 1st destination as it is He who made it possible for you to climb the steps on the hills. Oh! a great sigh of relief on reaching the 1st destination and now your journey ahead will be easier as no more steep steps till you reach the 6th hill. From this Gali Gopuram and while walking up the steps of Alipiri, you can have a beautiful panoramic view of Tirupati downhill. You can take beautiful pics from this spot for cherished memories. 

If you happen to climb the hills in the evening, the beauty of the panoramic view is indescribable as you can set the city in lights and you can also enjoy the sun set in between the hills.  

At this point, you will find a row of food stalls on both the sides where the local people sell hot hot mouth watering local foods like attu, dosa, idli, delicious mirchi bajji etc. Here you can sit for a while under the shady trees and have refreshments if you wish. You can even find some typical local beds for a relax amidst the nature.

Courtesy: Google Images
Remember not to enjoy too much of resting here as you have more to walk ahead. Just relax for a some time, refresh and resume your journey.  From this point your journey would be quite easy with flat less steps and much of walking all the way. When you walk barefooted, though the way is smooth enough, you can feel the pressure in the bottom of your foot like acupressure which helps in rejuvenating the body cells. 

Most of the pathway is covered with sun shelters to protect from sun and rains. As you continue walking, you can smell the fresh fragrance spread from the flowers of the various medicinal plants on the hills. The smell helps in giving you a fresh feeling and refreshes your mind. You can even enjoy the natural sounds of various forest inhabitants like chirping of birds, chattering of monkeys and the like. As you continue with your walking, you can hear the vehicular sound and see the ghat road close to the steps. Further ahead you will come across the deer park where you can see the local vendors sitting on the paves and selling foods like carrot pieces for the pilgrims to feed the deer. At this point you can have some recreation before you resume you walking. 

Courtesy: Google Images
As you walk further ahead, you will be marveled to see the gigantic standing figure of Lord Hanuman. At this point you can stop for a while and refresh in the few stalls before you continue with your walking. By this point you have almost completed two-third of your journey and almost nearing Tirumala hills. All along the way while climbing the steps you can enjoy Annamayya Keertanalu and other religious chanting like Govinda Namalu from the mikes.

Further ahead, you reach the Yoga Narasimha Temple where it is cool and you feel like taking rest for a while at this spot. You can see huge shady trees on either side of the steps and to your left while climbing up, you can see a beautiful colorful statue of Lord Krishna. From this place you have to walk down a bit when you come across the road of the ghats. Here you have to walk on the walkways of the road which is around 2 Km in distance. The walkway is covered with shade and while you walk, you can enjoy the beautiful view of the lush green valleys on side and the windmills moving atop the Tirumala hills. On the other side you can see the high raised rocky slopes with water falls. However, you won't find much of water fall in the summer season. And as you walk ahead you come across a small temple under the slopes which is known as the Temple of Seven Sisters / Yeduguru Akkachellala Gudi dedicated to the seven hills. 

Courtesy: Google Images
You can also enjoy the natural breeze carrying the fresh fragrance of the forest plants which gives you a refresh feeling. Once you are about to reach your final point, you will find a huge Gopurarm and lo! once again steep steps to climb. But don't worry at this point as this is the final point and you will reach Tirumala on climbing these steep steps. Anyway, by this time your body will be used to much of climbing and walking, so you don't find it much difficult to climb these steep steps which are not as difficult as that of Alipiri. 

Concentrate on Lord Venkateswara and keep climbing without feeling the strain as you will be shortly reaching your final destination. Get going and lo! you will be much delighted when you reach the Narayana Vanam at the entrance of Tirumala where you can feel the divine vibrations. 

Aha! Bangaru Konda !
Courtesy: Google Images
Govinda! Govinda! A sigh of relief! you won't belief yourself how you could succeed in climbing all the seven hills. Yes, Lord Venkateswara is the driving force. 

From this place, simply you follow the path to CRO (Central Reservation Office) to collect your baggage which might have reached much before you reached uphills. 

While climbing the hills, avoid walking all alone but try to follow the groups of pilgrims for safety purpose. Climbing the seven hills is not only helps you in spiritually elevating but at the same time, it helps in removing the excess fat from the body and helps in maintaining body fitness. The journey of climbing the 7 hills is a real delighted experience.

After an enjoyable stay at Tirumala and having the darshan of Lord Venkateswara, you can visit some of the top attractions in and around Tirumala. However, don't forget to visit the important places in and around Tirupati

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