There are two walking paths to reach Tirumala.The Alipiri route and Srivaari Mettu route.
Alipiri is the longer path , almost 7 km distance. This is the easier of the two paths and would take 3 to 4 hours for a normal healthy person. This path has very steep steps only at the beginning and end of the path, rest of the path is very comfortable to walk.
We had been to Tirumala via Alipiri earlier. This time we decided to take the Srivaari Mettu route.
We had a cab with us that dropped us at the starting point of Srivaari Mettu. We left our belongings in the car. The driver would drive to Tirumala via the normal route and wait for us at the top. There is a thorough security check of all the vehicles going to Tirumala and all the baggage is opened and checked. We have to leave the bags unlocked and hence didn’t carry any valuables.
Another option is to leave the luggage at luggage counters at the entry to Srivaari Mettu and your luggage will be transported to Tirumala. You can pick them up once you reach the top.
The length of Srivaari Mettu route is just 2 km , however it is difficult to climb as the whole path is only steps. There are 2388 steps in all . Of these the first 800 steps are comfortable and the rest are steep. A normal healthy individual would complete in 1.5 hrs.
Those who are ailing with BP/ Asthma/Diabetes/weakness of the bones etc better avoid this route.
Drinking water taps are found at every 50-100 steps. There are no stalls selling Mineral water, snacks , Tea or coffee . Take your own food items along with you , in case you like to eat something . Eat light before you start. Sip on water frequently. There are several washrooms along the path.
All I could think of while climbing the steps is ‘Óm Namo Venkatesaya’. No other thought entered my mind during the 3 hours that I took to climb.I would stop after every 50 steps and rest for a while. Slowly and steadily like a tortoise I completed the climb successfully :).
Pilgrims in all shapes , sizes and ages were seen to be climbing . Each step is treated with respect. A few light camphor at every step, some apply Pasupu (Turmeric powder) and Kumkum (red colour powder) to every step as a prayer.
My imagination was proved wrong when I saw lots of people all along the path. There is no dearth of company. There a few spots with good views of the hills. Lush greenery on either side of the path. The whole route is covered above and one can take this path during any time of the year.
BTW everyone walks without wearing any footwear.
Here are a few pics that I clicked along the way.
I was apprehensive about body pains but there was no weariness . I felt very normal and in fact was quite energetic 🙂