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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 as Kaliyuga Vaikuntham or Bhooloka Vaikuntham. A visit to this place spiritually elevates your mind with divine thoughts and takes you to a world full of divinity. You completely forget yourself when you are lost in the reverberating chants 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 brings positive thoughts in the mind and helps in recharging the mind, body and soul.

Free transport by Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams (TTD) / APSRTC buses) from Tirupati Railway Station is available for pilgrims climbing the 7 hills from Alipiri or from Srivari Mettu. There is big statue of Garuda - the divine eagle or the vehicle of Lord Vishnu - at the entrance of Alipiri.
It is good to know the names of the 7 Hills before you start trekking / climbing. These are Vrushabhadri, Anjanadri, Neelaadri, Garudaari, Seshaadri, Narayanaadri and Venkataadri. There are two well-laid footpath ways (called sopana margalu) to Tirumala provided by the TTD for the convenience of devotees who climb the 7 hills to fulfill their vows. The 'sopana margalu' start from Alipiri foothills and Srivari Mettu. The distance from Alipiri is about 11 Km and this is the preferred route by the devotees as it is comparatively safer and is open round the clock. Srivari Mettu starts from the foothills of Chandragiri and is 6 Km in length. This route is open for pilgrim from 5 a.m to 6 p.m.

TTD provides the following facilities to the pilgrims who climb the hills by foot:
  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 you 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

Tirumala / the 7 hills of Tirumala are considered highly sacred by Hindus. It is believed that each stone on these sacred hills is a form of Saligramam (a highly sacred stone for Hindus. 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 continuously chant Omkara mantra. These trees have high medicinal value.

Saint Annamayya's song Kattedura Vaikunthamu gives a detailed description of Tirumala hills.

Climbing 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. Pilgrim who take a vow, perform metla pooja while climbing the steps. These include burning camphor on each and every step or smearing of turmeric paste and applying kumkuma. 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 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.

Do's and don'ts for climbing the 7 hills:

  • Climb the hills bare foot. The entire range of hills is considered highly sacred.
  • Do not take non-veg food, smoke or consume 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 (Alipiri / Mokaala Parvatam) is very strenuous as the steps are too steep. It takes nearly 1 hour to climb Alipiri. 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, climbing the steps in enjoyable. However, it is difficult in summer 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. Climbing Alipiri steps is the toughest part of the journey where much of your energy is exhausted, If you are a first timer, you will doubt whether you can successfully climb the hills or not.

As you reach Gali Gopuram, you have reached the final point of 1st hill. Climb the steep steps of the 1st hill at 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!!

On the way, you come across 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. Make sure to climb the steps at your own pace which helps you in overcoming the strain.
Courtesy: Google Images
To overcome strain / tiresome of climbing the steps:

  • Go in groups.
  • Keep yourself engaged in jovial talks with your family / friends. 
  • Sit on the paves and rest for a while after climbing a distance. Do not sit for too long a period as this will make you lethargic to resume climbing. 
  • Do not drink soft drinks while climbing the steep steps as this will bloat your tummy, make you feel uncomfortable and you find difficulty in breathing. 
  • 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 i.e 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 / devotional chanting in the mikes.

Further ahead, you reach the Yoga Narasimha Temple. It is cool here, so you feel like resting for a while at this spot. There are big 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
Enjoy the natural breeze and fresh fragrance of the forest plants which gives you a refreshed feeling. As you approach the final point, you will find a huge Gopurarm and Oh! once again steep steps to climb. Don't worry at this point. 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.

You will reach the final destination soon. Concentrate on Lord Venkateswara and keep climbing without feeling the strain. Aha! Govinda! Wow! 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

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. 
Courtesy: Google Images
On reaching Tirumala, as you follow the way to CRO (Central Reception Office), on the way you can collect your baggage at the luggage counter.

Climbing the seven hills is not only helps you in spiritual elevation but it also 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 delightful experience.

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