Monday, 18 June 2012

A Trip To The Tirumala Temple

That's it for our Nepal adventure, time to get back to India!

Outside a town called Tirupati, is a Hindu hilltop place of worship called the Venkateswara Temple. It's a humble-looking temple, nothing to get snooty art historians all worked up. But what it lacks in visual panache, it more than makes up for in pilgrimage power.

Venkateswara isn't your average Hindu temple. Venkateswara is simply the world's most-visited religious site, bigger than the Vatican, than Mecca, than anyplace else. We're talking 50,000-100,000+ people a day; 30 million to 40 million pilgrims a year make the trip to pay homage to the resident god Venkatswara, a form of Vishnu.

The place is like a sacred Disneyland, complete with a giant line of cars to go through a toll booth-like gate to gain entry. The unassuming main temple.



A map of the place is a must. The big tan blocks are public buildings, while the tiny tan squares are apartment-style blocks. A regular Levittown at the temple, capable of housing tens of thousands of people at a time. On the right, Bo Peep, Pilgrim.



The gleaming water tank. Finally, what's going on here? Well, there's the not-so-little detail of ritual head-shaving, a big tradition at the temple.  Stay tuned....


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