Background: Since early 2020, International travel has been in limbo due to the !@#! COVID-19. With each country reacting differently to COVID-19, it has been difficult to do International trips. While waiting out COVID-19, I thought why not explore the regions of India I have not been to 🙂 As of Aug, 2021, I had already been to 19 major towns/cities (as an adult), which is nothing considering the size and diversity of the country.
State: Andhra Pradesh
Introduction to Andhra Pradesh
- 7th largest state in India.
- The capital of Andhra Pradesh is a tad confusing. Visakhapatnam (“Vizag”), the largest city in Andhra Pradesh, was proposed to be the Executive Capital. But Amaravati (400+ kilometers away) was to be the Judicial and Legislative Capital. Not sure of the current status, as there has been legal challenges and protests.
- Until 2014, the new state Telangana (in which the metro of Hyderabad is situated) was a part of Andhra Pradesh.
- Telugu is the primary language of Andhra Pradesh.
- Tirupati is the major town near Tirumala hills, which houses the World-famous Sri Venkateshwara temple. The district is also called Tirupati.
- Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams (TTD) manages the temple site.
- Roughly 30 million (3 Crore) people visit Tirumala every year!
It was a murky day when we started from Chennai. The road, though quite nice, was not a multi-lane expressway. The traffic was not too bad, though.
There were quite a few nice rock formations. I am sure the “Quarry guys” will have their eyes set on it, soon 😉
This one, in particular, I liked a lot. The Green-Brown contrast, with the dark clouds in the background.
Pretty green on the way.
The Tirupati-Bengaluru highway looks quite nice.
I attempted to explore the Chandragiri Fort (from the 11th century!). It is around 15-20km from Tirupati town. The location was a prime one during the Vijayanagara dynasty. The sad part is that the Archeological Society of India seems to be doing quite a poor job in preserving this historical site. No directions, no boards, many squawkers Etc. You name it, those issues were there.
You can see the Tirumala hills from the highway. The Tirupati-Bengaluru highway (not the Chennai-Tirupati highway, which is quite basic), as I say above, is quite nice, with clearly marked lanes.
Tirupati town has several streets which were tree-lined and looked very pleasant.
Just before you climb up the Tirumala hills, there is a check-post. All vehicles and bags are checked. We have to get down from our vehicle and go through a pat-down check and bag scans and then get back into the vehicle. I think the TTD (Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam) could do a better job with the rest rooms at this check-post.
Leopards are present in the Tirumala hills.
The drive up the Tirumala hills is very nice and scenic. It is a narrow 2-lane road, with quite a few hairpin bends (and a lot of traffic!). One gets a very nice view of the Tirupati town. Tirumala hills has an elevation of just under 1km.
I took the above photo after climbing up a steel view deck structure. The structure, to be frank, was quite shaky and needs some immediate fixing, if the authorities want to avoid an “unintentional bungee-less bungee jump” by some tourist 🙂
As you can see Tirumala hills is quite green and scenic.
The Tirumala complex is quite impressive and big, with clearly-marked signs and good roads. Of course, there is a huge sea of humanity 🙂
I say “sea of humanity” above … Where is everyone? 🙂 Well, this is around 8PM IST and one of the inner roads.
Tirumala has many such buildings, each with a hall for the ceremony and rooms (AC and non-AC) upstairs, for the guests. I was told that typically, a visitor can only stay for 2 nights and also the bookings have to be done well in advance. Looks like it is a huge business at Tirumala.