Sacred Journeys: Exploring some Andhra Pradesh Temples Part 2

This is Part 2 of our temple pilgrimage to the Tirupati Balaji Temple, the Sri Padmavati Temple and the Sri Kalahasthi Temple on a road trip from Bengaluru.

Coming down from Tirumala took almost an hour because there are speed restrictions and it took us about 45 minutes from the point of entering Tirupati to reaching the Padmavati temple. Located in Tiruchanur on the outskirts of Tirupati, the temple is under the administration of Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams. Padmavathi or Alamelumanga is the main deity of the temple and faces the east. She is an incarnation of Goddess Lakshmi and the consort of Lord Venkateswara. It is believed that the Goddess Lakshmi was born as Alamelu to Akasha Raja, the ruler of this region, and wed Venkateshwara of Tirupati. Goddess Lakshmi gave darshan to Lord Venkateswara on a red Lotus flower or a Padma in Sanskrit at Alamelu Mangapuram after his deep penance for twelve years. According to tradition, the Mother Goddess manifested Herself in the holy Pushkarini called Padmasarovaram in a golden lotus. The Venkatachala Mahatyam states that Lord Suryanarayana was instrumental in the blossoming of the lotus in full splendour. A temple dedicated to Lord Suryanarayana is situated on the eastern side of the Pushkarini. The Padma Purana gives a vivid description of the advent of the Goddess and subsequent wedding with Lord Srinivasa. The manifestation of Sri Padmavathi Devi occurred in the month of Karthika on Sukla Paksha Panchami when the star Uttarashada was in the ascendant. The Brahmotsavam of the Goddess is celebrated with pomp and glory.

We reached the temple around 8:15 am and realised that the temple was closed after the early morning prayers and would reopen at 9 am. So while waiting, we had breakfast nearby. After breakfast, we brought the tickets for the express queue which were for about Rs 200 per person and started waiting. As with Tirumala, our belongings were scanned and all mobile phones asked to be deposited at a counter. My parents were sent on ahead in the senior citizen queue. The queue took about 20 minutes to reach the goddess who was beautiful! We had a very good darshan and then waited for my parents to come, after which we rushed to the last temple in our itinerary, the Sri Kalahasthi temple.

The only photo I could click in the of a temple in the entire tripSriKalahasthi Temple

By the time we finished with the Padmavati temple, the time was nearly 10:45 am. On Friday, the day we were to go to the SriKalahasthi temple, the Rahu Kalam was between 10:30 am to 12 noon and I wanted to visit the temple during this time. Located in the town of Srikalahasti, about 40 km from the Padmavati temple, the temple is one of the most famous Shiva temples in South India and is said to be the site where Kannappa was ready to offer both his eyes to cover the blood flowing from the linga before Lord Shiva stopped him and granted him moksha. It is also famous for its Vayu or Wind Lingam, one of the Panchabhoota Sthalams, representing wind. The temple is also regarded as a Rahu-Ketu kshetra and Dakshina Kailasam. The inner temple was constructed around the 5th century and the outer temple was constructed in the 11th century by the Rajendra Chola I, later Chola kings and the Vijayanagara kings. Shiva in his aspect as Vayu is worshipped as Kalahasteeswara. This is the only temple in India which remains open during Solar and lunar eclipses, while, all other temples are closed. This temple is famous for Rahu-Kethu pooja where it is believed that performing this pooja will ward the people from the astrological effects of Rahu and Kethu.

Goddess Parvati is enshrined in the temple as Shiva-Gnanam Gnana Prasunamba or Gnana Prasunambika Devi. According to legend, Lord Shiva’s consort Goddess Parvati was cursed by him to discard her divine form and assume human form. To atone, Parvati performed penance at Srikalahasti and pleased Shiva. Shiva granted her a heavenly body, a hundred times better than her previous divine form. Cursed to become a ghost, Ghanakala prayed at Srikalahasti for 15 years and after chanting the Bhairava Mantra, Shiva restored her original form.

On reaching the temple, I was praying hard to Lord Shiva that we make it to the sanctum sanctorum before Rahu Kalam ends. Our driver was god-sent and raced down and made sure we reached and prayed to the Lord just as it turned noon. He also spoke to someone at the temple entrance and got us to alight at the VIP entrance. He also spoke to an employee who, on payment, became our guide and took us on a very good tour of the temple without standing in any line and also procured a wheelchair for my father. Goddess Parvati was decked out in gold and this is something only done twice a week, on Mondays and Fridays and we were fortunate to have a glimpse of the Goddess in this form. At this temple also, we were asked to deposit our phones and electronic devices, so I could not take any photos anywhere.

After an hour spent in the temple, we finally exited the temple and started our journey back to Bengaluru. The journey back to Bengaluru was uneventful and took us about seven hours because just as we entered the city, we caught the evening rush hour which added another hour to the journey. We had lunch at the same place we had brunch the day before and our next meal was at our home. We all slept a fair bit of the drive back and were pretty exhausted by the time we hit the bed. But our hearts were full because of the amazing darshans we had. I was happy that I could facilitate this trip for my parents. Hopefully, we can make another trip to all these temples again and soon.

Sacred Journeys: Exploring some Andhra Pradesh Temples Part 1

During our recent trip to India, my father wanted to visit my family’s ancestral temple or Kuladevta. A Kuladevta is is a clan deity or an ancestral tutelary deity in Hinduism and Jainism. Such a deity is often the object of one’s devotion and is coaxed to watch over one’s clan, gotra, family, and children from misfortune. This is distinct from an ishta-devata or personal tutelar and a grama devata or village deity. Male kula devatas are sometimes referred to as kuladeva, while their female counterparts are called kuladevi. The word kula devata is derived from two words: kula, meaning clan, and devata, meaning deity, referring to the ancestral deities that are worshipped by particular clans.

In my father’s family, Tirupati Balaji is the kuladevta and so he wanted to make one last trip to see the Lord before he becomes unable to travel at all. Tirupati is about 280 km from where they live on the outskirts of Bengaluru and we decided to hire a car with a driver to take us there. The driver was very experienced and since he usually makes at least three trips to Tirumala and Tirupati weekly, he knew all the ins and outs of the temple and was able to guide us accordingly.

By the time we left Bengaluru, it was almost 7 am and it took us almost two hours to navigate the city and get into the Bengaluru-Tirupati Highway. The highway, especially the part that falls in the state of Andhra Pradesh was a super smooth six-lane highway with extremely good roads that could be driven at 100 kph. For those travelling from Bengaluru to Tirupati, I can recommend Hotel Sapthagiri as a rest stop for lunch or brunch. We stopped here both ways and I found the food good and reasonable, and most importantly during a road trip, the restrooms are clean and useable. Travelling from Bengaluru to Tirupati, the restaurant is on the side towards Tirupati and comes just after the toll plaza and is about 30ish minutes before Tirupati. We had breakfast before leaving home and stopped there around 10:30 am for an early lunch or brunch.

After a brunch stop, we continued on our journey and then I had my first surprise. On reaching the town of Tirupati, at the turn-off to Tirumala, we saw many people in other vehicles getting down with their luggage and walking. I was very curious but realised very soon that, just like you clear customs and immigration when you go from one country to another, just like that, before entering Tirumala, you need to get out of your vehicle, carry all your luggage and get them scanned, before getting a pat-down. While this is going on, your vehicle also gets a scan and then once everyone and everything is cleared, you are allowed to sit back in your vehicle and start the journey up the seven hills. Since my parents were old, they were allowed to remain in the car and were scanned along with the vehicle. This whole process reminded me of clearing customs in Singapore and Malaysia when we travel between the two countries by public transport. Tirumala is also a plastic free zone and our driver told us that plastic water bottles are asked to be binned at this point. But our bottles went through, though it may be because they were not single use bottles. From the time we reached the checkpoint to the time we were allowed to resume our journey, it took us about 20-25 minutes. According to our driver, this was the off-season and during the peak season, this process can easily take an hour or more.

The time taken from the checkpoint to Tirumala takes about 30 minutes and once at the top, we went to leave my parents to a special senior citizens queue. We had gotten the agency that supplied us with the car and vehicle to get us special tickets for my parents under the senior citizen scheme and for us under the NRI scheme. But don’t think this meant we got special privileges. The cost of all the tickets was Rs 300 each and all this meant was that we were in a different line and instead of spending about five hours, we spent about three hours in the line. This queue is also available to others and most of the people in the line with us looked to be locals, so I am not sure how we were in a special line.

After dropping off my parents, we went to secure our room. An aunt’s friend who is a frequent temple visitor got us one room, but we were six people and the second room was only available from midnight. After securing the room, we were dropped off for our darshan queue.

All the temples we visited are electronic-free zones and we had to leave our phones in the car with the driver. At some point in the line, our bags were scanned and there was a power bank in my bag that I forgot to remove. I was asked about it and when I explained that there are no phones in the bag, a senior official was called and even though I was thinking of giving up the power bank if needed, they allowed me to keep it. But the problem with not having any mobile phones during the darshan meant that after we came out, we needed to get access to a phone to call the driver. But according to him, most employees are more than happy to share their phones with us and this is what happened to us. While getting the famous laddoos, we asked someone working there if we can use their phone and they obliged. And this was useful because we were looking for my parents and after speaking to the driver, we learnt that they were already in the vehicle.

After the darshan, we reached our room which was on the second floor. This was a problem because there was no lift and my father who was already exhausted by this point could not walk up. After trying to reason with the person giving the keys to the guest house, we tried to get him to walk up, but after seeing him, another employee got the first employee to speak with the main booking office and finally shifted us to a room on the ground floor. After resting for a while, we adults went out because my father wanted to do a hair tonsure which is free. The barbers ask for some money which we are supposed to give discreetly because the room is fitted with CCTV cameras and there are signs which remind pilgrims not to pay the barbers as they are salaried. After that, we brought some food and went back to a room that was meant for three people, but was going to sleep six people now. The guest house refused to give us an extra mattress or even extra pillows or sheets, so we made do with what was available.

Tirumala is incredibly clean and where we stayed was close to some houses, where even at 9 pm, we saw women washing their doorsteps and putting rangoli which seemed odd to us as usually this is only done first thing in the morning. Also there are RO water machines everywhere and pilgrims can refill their water bottles throughout the temple complex. We spent a sleepless night except for the children who shared a bed and we four adults shared the double bed. After the sleepless night, we woke up early and after getting some coffee, left the room around 6:45 am to go to our next temple, the Padmavati temple.

Please watch this space for Part 2 where we visit two more temples.

Travel Bucket List: India – Consolidated List of all States

As I started planning my travel, I started relying on my research for where to go and found it slightly ungainly to search through all the material I have to reach a specific destination. So here’s a consolidated list of all Indian states, in alphabetical order with the cities and towns next to each part which makes it easier to get to the place you are interested in.

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Andaman and Nicobar Islands
Part 1 – Introduction and Overview
Part 2 – Port Blair
Part 3 – Corbyn’s Cove Beach, Wandoor Beach, Viper Island, Ross Island, North Bay Island, Red Skin Island, Middle Andaman Island, Long Island, Baratang Island, Parrot Island, North Passage Island, Guitar Island
Part 4 – Aves Island, North Andaman Island, Diglipur, Stewart Island, Ross & Smith Island, Jolly Buoy Island, Havelock Island
Part 5 – Neil Island, South Andaman Island, Rutland Island, Little Andaman Island, Cinque Island, Barren Island, Narcondom Island, Kathchal Island, Campell Bay & Indira Point
Part 6 – Mahatma Gandhi Marine National Park, Chidiya Tapu, The Chidiya Tapu Biological Park, Mount Harriet National Park, Saddle Peak National Park, Campbell Bay National Park, Galathea National Park, Middle Button Island National Park, North Button Island National Park, South Button Island National Park

Photo by Gowrisha CV on Unsplash

Andhra Pradesh
Part 1: Introduction and Overview, Vishakhapatnam
Part 2: Araku Valley, Vizianagaram, Annavaram, Samalkot, Kakinada, Rajahmundry
Part 3: Amaravathi, Vijayawada, Machilipatnam
Part 4: Guntur, Chirala, Nagarjunakonda, Srisailam, Cumbum, Nellore
Part 5: Kurnool, Mantralayam, Gandikota, Tadipatri, Anantapur, Puttaparthi
Part 6: Lepakshi, Horsley Hills, Chittoor, Srikalahasthi, Tirupati

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Arunachal Pradesh
Part 1: Introduction and Overview, Itanagar, Bhalukpong
Part 2: Bomdila, Tawang
Part 3: Ziro, Yinkiong, Mechuka, Roing, Tirap
Part 4: Khonsa, Changlang, Miao, Anini, Pasighat, Aalo, Daporijo, Anjaw, Tezu

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Part 1: Introduction and Overview, Guwahati, Dispur
Part 2: Kokrajhar, Bongaigaon, Goalpura, Barpeta, Nalbari, Hajo, Sualkuchi
Part 3: Darrang, Mayong and Morigaon, Nagaon, Tezpur, Jorhat
Part 4: Sivasagar, Majuli, Dhemaji, Dibrugarh, Tinsukia, Digboi
Part 5: Sadiya, Haflong, Jatinga, Diphu, Karimganj, Hailakandi, Silchar
Part 6: Raimona National Park, Manas National Park, Orang National Park, Kaziranga National Park, Nameri National Park, Dibru Saikhowa National Park, Dihing Patkai National Park

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Part 1: Introduction and Overview
Part 2: Patna
Part 3: Hajipur, Nalanda
Part 4: Rajgir, Sasaram, Kaimur
Part 5: Bodh Gaya, Vaishali
Part 6: Muzzafarpur, Sitamarhi, Madhubani, Lauriya Nandangarh, Bhagalpur, Valmiki National Park Tiger Reserve and Wildlife Sanctuary

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Part 1: Introduction and Overview, Raipur, Champaran
Part 2: Bhilai, Durg, Rajnandgaon, Chirmiri, Madku Dweep, Bhoramdeo Temple, Guru Ghasidas National Park
Part 3: Achanakmar Tiger Reserve, Bilaspur, Raigarh, Korba, Ambikapur, Barnawapara Wildlife Sanctuary, Mainpat, Malhar
Part 4: Mahasamund, Sirpur, Rajim, Jagdalpur, Dhamtari, Dhamtari, Dantewada, Kanger Ghati National Park

Dadra and Nagar Haveli and Daman and Diu
Part 1: Introduction and Overview, Daman
Part 2: Diu
Part 3: Dadra and Nagar Haveli

Part 1: Introduction and Overview, India Gate, Red Fort, Qutub Minar, Jantar Mantar, Rajghat
Part 2: Iron Pillar, National War Memorial, Rajpath, Rashtrapati Bhavan, Agrasen Ki Baoli, Ghalib Ki Haveli, Alai Darwaza/Minar, Bhool Bhulaiya ka Mahal, Purana Qila,
Part 3: Tughlaqabad Fort. Siri Fort, Feroza Kotla Fort, Swaminarayan Akshardham Temple, ISKON Mandir, Birla Temple, Chhatrapur Temple, Kalkaji Temple, Kali Bari Temple, Yogmaya Temple, Sri Digambar Jain Lal Mandir, Lotus Temple
Part 4: Jama Masjid, Quwwat-ul-Islam Mosque, Fatehpuri Masjid, Jamali Kamali Mosque and Tomb, Nizamuddin Dargah, Humayun’s Tomb, Safdarjung’s Tomb, Isa Khan’s Tomb, Hijron ka Khanqah, Nicholson Cemetery
Part 5: Gurudwara Bangla Sahib, Gurudwara Sis Ganj Sahib, Rakab Ganj Gurdwara, Sunder Nursery, Lodhi Gardens, Garden of Five Senses, National Rose Garden, Mehrauli Archaeological Park, Pradhanmantri Sangrahalaya, National Museum, Nehru Memorial Museum and Library, Rashtrapati Bhavan Museum, Indian War Memorial Museum, National Handicrafts Museum
Part 6: Indira Gandhi Memorial Museum, Sanskriti Museums, Charkha Museum, Sulabh International Museum of Toilets, Shankar’s International Dolls Museum, Museum of Archaeology, National Railway Museum, Museo Camera, National Gallery of Modern Art, Kiran Nadar Museum of Art, Museum of Illusions, National Zoological Park, National Bal Bhavan, Connaught Place, Chandni Chowk, Dilli Haat, Sarojini Market, Lajpat Nagar, Majnu ka Tila, Pragati Maidan

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Part 1: Introduction and Overview
Part 2: North Goa, Vagator Beach, Anjuna Beach, Calangute Beach, Sinquerim Beach, Candolim Beach, Arambol Beach, Mandrem Beach, Morjim Beach, Miramar Beach, Siridao Beach, Bogdeshwara Temple, Mangeshi Temple, Mahalaxmi Temple, Fort Aguada, Chapora Fort, Reis Magos Fort, Basilica of Bom Jesus, Church of Our Lady of Immaculate Conception, Chapel of St. Catherine, Church of Mae De Deus, Goa State Museum, Houses of Goa Museum, Museum of Christian Art, Casino Palms, Chorao Island, Harvalem Waterfalls
Part 3: South Goa, Butterfly Beach, Betalbatim Beach, Agonda Beach, Mobor Beach, Hollant Beach, Palolem Beach, Cansaulim Beach, Colva Beach, Talpona Beach, Kakolem Beach, Benaulim Beach, Our Lady of Remedios Church, Saviour of the World Church, St. Alex Church, Shantadurga Temple, Tambdi Surla Mahadev Temple, Chandreshwar Bhoothnath Temple, Naval Aviation Museum, Goa Chitra Museum, Big Foot Museum, The Grande Island, Pequeno Island, Bhagwan Mahaveer Wildlife Sanctuary, Netravali Wildlife Sanctuary, Cotigao Wildlife Sanctuary, Dudhsagar Falls, Bamanbudo Waterfalls, Netravali Bubbling Lake, Cabo de Rama Fort, Chandor

Part 1: Introduction and Overview
Part 2: Surat, Vapi, Udvada, Valsad, Bilimora, Navsari, Bharuch, Saputara
Part 3: Ahmedabad, Lothal, Vadodara, Anand
Part 4: Gandhinagar, Patan, Mehsana, Palanpur
Part 5: Rajkot, Jamnagar, Dwarka, Porbandar, Junagadh, Bhavnagar, Palitana,
Part 6: Kutch, Bhuj, Mandvi, Rann of Kutch, Anjar

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Part 1: Introduction and Overview, Gurugram, Manesar, Sohna
Part 2: Faridabad, Nuh, Murthal, Rohtak, Meham
Part 3: Hisar, Panipat, Karnal
Part 4: Kurukshetra, Ambala
Part 5: Panchkula, Morni Hills, Narnaul

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Himachal Pradesh
Part 1: Introduction and Overview, Shimla, Kufri, Fagu, Theog, Hatkoti Valley, Chanshal Valley
Part 2: Chail, Solan, Barog, Nahan, Sirmour, Paonta Sahib, Shoghi, Kasauli, Arki, Nalagarh, Dadasiba, Bilaspur, Dalhousie,
Part 3: Kangra, Khajjiar, Bharmour, Chamba, Tattapani, Jalori Pass, Jibhi, Mandi
Part 4: Trithan Valley, Bhuntar, Sainj Valley, Barot, Bir Billing, Palampur, Kasol, Nagar, Manikaran Sahib, Tosh, Parvati Valley
Part 5: Kullu, Manali, Dharamsala, McLeodganj
Part 6: Keylong, Pin Valley National Park, Spiti Valley, Narkanda, Mashroba, Kinnaur, Sarahan, Sangla Valley, Kalpa, Pangi Valley, Nako

Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh
Part 1: Introduction and Overview, Kashmir, Srinagar, Gulmarg, Sonmarg, Pahalgam, Amarnath, Pulwama, Kupwara, Poonch, Anantnag, Baramulla, Dachigam National Park
Part 2: Jammu, Patnitop, Rajouri, Udhampur, Kathua, Katra, Vaishno Devi, Kishtwar
Part 3: Ladakh, Leh, Leh Palace, Thiksey Gompa, Pangong Lake, Magnetic Hill, Nubra Valley and Khardung La Pass, Kargil, Drass, Hemis High Altitude Wildlife Sanctuary, Lamayuru, Lake Tso Moriri

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Part 1: Introduction and Overview, Ranchi
Part 2: Hazaribagh, Bokaro Steel City
Part 3: Jamshedpur, Neterhat
Part 4: Dhanbad, Shikarji, Deoghar, Dumka

Part 1: Introduction and Overview
Part 2: Bengaluru
Part 3: Mysuru, Mangalore, Belgaum
Part 4: Hubli-Dharwad, Gulbarga, Bidar, Badami, Bijapur, Hassan, Shimoga, Hampi, Sharavathi Valley Wildlife Sanctuary, Bhadra Wildlife Sanctuary, Brahmagiri Wildlife Sanctuary, Nagarhole National Park, Bandipur National Park, Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary, Jog Falls, Shivanasamudra Falls, Kodasalli Backwater
Part 5: Coorg, Chikmagalur, Sakleshpur, Kudremukh, Kemmanagundi, Kotagiri, Masinagudi, Devarayanadurga, Karwar, Devbagh, Kumta, Netrani Island, Murudeshwar, Maravanthe, St. Mary’s Island, Udipi
Part 6: Udipi, Kollur, Sringeri, Dharmasthala, Horanadu, Talakadu, Belur, Shravanbelagola, Gokarna, Murudeshwar, Koodli, Srirangapatna, Pattadakal, Aihole, Kalasa

Part 1: Introduction and Overview
Part 2: Kasaragod, Kannur, Kozhikode
Part 3: Wayanad, Mallapuram, Palakkad
Part 4: Thrissur, Ernakulam, Alappuzha
Part 5: Kottayam, Idukki, Patanamthitta
Part 6: Kollam, Tiruvanathapuram

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Lakshadweep Islands
Part 1: Introduction and Overview
Part 2: Aminidivi, Cora Divh, Sesostris Bank, Bassas de Pedro, Cherbaniani Reef, North Islet, Byramgore Reef, Chetlat Island, Bitra Par, Kilthan Island, Kadmat Island, Kadmat Beach, Elikalpeni Bank, Perumal Par, Amini Island
Part 3: Laccadive, Amindivi, Agatti Island, Bangaram, Pakshipitti, Andrott Island, Kavaratti, Kalpeni, Suheli Par
Part 4: Minicoy, Maliku Atoll, Investigator Bank, Viringili

Madhya Pradesh
Part 1: Introduction and Overview
Part 2: Bhopal
Part 3: Indore, Ujjain, Alampur
Part 4: Maheshwar, Omkareshwar, Mandu, Burhanpur
Part 5: Chanderi, Shivpuri, Orchha, Khajurao
Part 6: Gwalior, Jabalpur, Bhedaghat, Panchmarhi, Amarkantak, Bandhavgarh National Park, Kanha National Park, Pench National Park

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Part 1: Introduction and Overview, Mumbai
Part 2: Pune
Part 3: Matheran, Lonavala, Khandala, Rajmachi, Lavasa, Kamshet, Mahabaleshwar, Panchgani, Kaas Plateau, Maval, Bhandardara, Chikhaldara, Bhimashankar
Part 4: Amravati, Aurangabad, Ajanta and Ellora Caves, Lonar, Chiplun, Kolhapur, Nagpur, Nanded, Nashik, Triambakeshwar, Shirdi, Shani Shinganapur, Raigad, Ratnagiri, Satara
Part 5: Dahanu, Alibaug, Kashid, Diveagar, Harihareshwar, Murud, Karade, Ganpatipule, Tarkarli, Vengurla, Tadoba National Park, Bhamragarh Wildlife Sanctuary, Chandoli National Park, Gugumal National Park, Navegaon National Park, Malvan Marine Sanctuary, Rehekuri Blackbuck Sanctuary

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Part 1: Introduction and Overview, Imphal
Part 2: Moirang, Tamenglong, Thoubal
Part 3: Chandel, Tengnoupal, Moreh, Kaina, Ukhrul, Mount Koubru, Baruni Hill, Thangjing Hill, Sadu Chiru Waterfall

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Part 1: Introduction and Overview
Part 2: Shillong
Part 3: Mawphlang, Cherrapunji, Nongpoh, Mawsynram
Part 4: Jowai, Mawlynnong, Dawki, Balpakram National Park, Williamnagar, Baghmara, Tura
Part 5: Khasi Hills, Jaintia Hills, Garo Hills

Part 1: Introduction and Overview, Aizwal, Falkawn Village
Part 2: Reiek, Hmuifang, Kolasib, Tamdil or Tam Lake, Mamit, Vantawng Falls, Serchhip
Part 3: Dampa Tiger Reserve, Lunglei, Champhai
Part 4: Murlen National Park, Phawngpui, Phawngpui National Park, Saiha,

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Part 1: Introduction and Overview, Dimapur
Part 2: Kohima
Part 3: Mokokchung, Tuensang, Phek, Mon, Pfutsero

Part 1: Introduction and Overview, Bhubaneshwar, Dhauli
Part 2: Cuttack, Rayagada, Daringbadi, Berhampur, Jeypore
Part 3: Puri, Baripada, Sambalpur, Rourkela
Part 4: Konark, Paradeep, Gopalpur, Chandipur
Part 5: Lake Chilika, Tikarpada Wildlife Sanctuary, Satkosia Tiger Reserve, Bhitarkanika National Park & Wildlife Sanctuary, Simlipal National Park, Duduma Waterfalls, Chandaka Forest, Kotgarh Elephant Reserve, Karlapat Wildlife Sanctuary

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Part 1: Introduction and Overview, Puducherry
Part 2: Karaikal, Mahé, Yanam

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Part 1: Introduction and Overview
Part 2: Chandigarh, Sirhind
Part 3: Rupnagar, Patiala
Part 4: Ludhiana, Bhatinda
Part 5: Jalandhar, Kapurthala
Part 6: Pathankot, Amritsar

Part 1: Introduction and Overview, Jaipur, Udaipur
Part 2: Jodhpur, Jaisalmer, Sawai Madhopur, Pushkar

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Part 1: Introduction and Overview
Part 2: Gangtok
Part 3: Tinkitam Rayong, Namchi, Barsey Rhododendron Sanctuary, Kabi Longstok, Tendong Hill, Aritar, Zuluk, Pangolakha Wildlife Sanctuary, Pelling, Yuksom, Ravangla
Part 4: Maenam Wildlife Sanctuary, Geyzing, Yangtey, Borong, Mangan, Chopta Valley, Lachung, Lachen, Yumthang Valley, Thangu Valley, Gurudongmar Lake, Cholamu Lake, Shingba Rhododendron Sanctuary, Khangchendzonga National Park, Fambong Lho Wildlife Sanctuary, Goecha La

Tamil Nadu
Part 1: Introduction and Overview, Chennai
Part 2: Coimbatore, Tiruchirappalli, Tiruppur, Tirunelveli
Part 3: Ooty, Kodaikanal, Yercaud, Coonoor, Yelagiri, Bellikkal
Part 4: Kanchipuram, Tiruvannamalai, Chidambaram, Vaitheeshwaran Kovil,
Part 5: Kumbakonam, Thanjavur, Swamimalai, Rameshwaram, Madurai
Part 6: Mahabalipuram, Kanyakumari, Mudumalai Wildlife Sanctuary, Hogenakkal Falls, Kutralam Falls

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Part 1: Introduction and Overview, Hyderabad Part 1
Part 2: Hyderabad Part 2
Part 3: Secunderabad
Part 4: Warangal, Nizamabad
Part 5: Khammam, Karimnagar, Adilabad, Mahbubnagar, Medak
Part 6: Nalgonda, Bhadrachalam, Koti Linga, Somasila, Vemulawada

Part 1: Introduction and Overview
Part 2: Agartala
Part 3: Kailashahar, Unakoti, Udaipur, Ambassa, Pilak Archaeological Sites, Chabimura, Mahamuni Pagoda, Manubankul, Buddhist Stupa, Boxanagar
Part 4: Baramura Eco Park, Kalapania Nature Park, Tepania Eco Park, Khumulwang Eco Park, Jampui Hills, Dumboor Lake, Dhalai, Rudrasagar Lake, Sepahijala Wildlife Sanctuary & Clouded Leopard National Park, Trishna Wildlife Sanctuary, Rajbari National Park, Rowa Wildlife Sanctuary, Gomati Wildlife Sanctuary

Uttar Pradesh
Part 1: Introduction and Overview, Noida, Loni, Ghaziabad, Meerut, Muzzafarnagar
Part 2: Hastinapur, Vrindavan, Mathura
Part 3: Fatehpur Sikri, Agra, Garhmukteshwar
Part 4: Aligarh, Firozabad, Jhansi, Piilbhit, Bithoor, Naimisharanya
Part 5: Kanpur, Lucknow
Part 6: Ayodhya, Sravasti, Prayagraj
Part 7: Chitrakoot, Vindhyachal, Varanasi, Sarnath, Kushinagar

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Part 1: Introduction and Overview, Dehradun
Part 2: Mussoorie, Dhanaulti
Part 3: Auli, Joshimath, Chopta, Tungnath, Ukhimath, Lansdowne, Nainital
Part 4: Sattal, Bhimtal, Naukuchiatal, Kausani, Ranikhet, Almora, Binsar, Jalna, Kasar Devi, Jageshwar, Champawat, Munsiyari, Pithorgarh
Part 5: Bageshwar, Chamoli, Mana, Badrinath, Pandukeshwar, Hemkund Sahib, Kedarnath, Gomukh, Madhyamaheshwar, Gangotri, Gauri Kund, Yamunotri
Part 6: Rudranath, Guptakashi, Nandprayag, Rudraprayag, Devprayag, Rishikesh, Haridwar, Roopkund Lake, Nelong Valley, Gangotri National Park, Kedarnath Wild Life Sanctuary, Valley of Flowers, Nanda Devi National Park, Govind Pashu Vihar Wildlife Sanctuary, Rajaji National Park, Jim Corbett National Park

West Bengal
Part 1: Introduction and Overview, Kolkata
Part 2: Howrah, Barrackpore, Chandan Nagar, Chinsurah, Bardhaman, Haldia, Midnapore
Part 3: Shantiniketan, Durgapur, Jhargram, Asansol, Murshidabad, Mukutmanipur, Malda, Siliguri, Jalpaiguri, Cooch Behar, Bagdogra
Part 4: Kurseong, Mirik, Darjeeling, Tinchuley, Dooars, Kalimpong
Part 5: Rishyap, Lava and Lolegaon, Buxa Tiger Reserve, Rajabhatkawa, Jaldapara National Park, Jaldhaka, Chapramari Wildlife Sanctuary, Gorumara National Park, Neora Valley National Park, Lataguri, Purulia, Sonajhuri Forest, Deulti, Sundarbans, Mayapur, Nabadwipa, Bakreswar
Part 6: Bankura, Bishnupur, Jayrambati, Kamarpukur, Tarapith, Falta, Raichak, Taki, Piyali Island, Machranga Dwip, Kakdwip, Mousuni Island, Bakkhali, Junput, Mandarmani, Tajpur, Shankarpur

Fabrics and Sarees of India Part 1

A flowing six-yard drape of beauty and grace, the saree can be called India’s national dress for women. Every state and community has their fabrics and materials that are unique to the region and drapes that instantly brings a specific community to mind. The saree consists of an un-stitched stretch of woven fabric arranged over the body as a robe, with one end tied to the waist, while the other end rests over one shoulder as a stole or shawl, with a part of the midriff showing. It may vary from 4.1 to 8.2 metres or 4.5 to 9 yards in length, and 60 to 120 cm in breadth. The saree is part of the traditional wear of women of the Indian subcontinent in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka & Nepal. There are various names and styles of sari manufacture and draping, the most common being the Nivi style. The sari is worn with a fitted bodice commonly called a blouse and a petticoat.

This post started as my ode to the different fabrics and sarees available in the country and I soon realised this is much larger than just naming the various fabrics in the country. So this is now a three-part short series because I wanted to showcase as much as I can of the amazing fabrics available. And on a personal note, this is also a repository for me to refer to because one of my dreams is to have a saree from every Indian state.

Sadee is a Hindustani word that means a strip of cloth that evolved to sāṛī in modern Indian languages. The word śāṭika is mentioned as describing women’s dharmic attire in Sanskrit literature and Buddhist literature called Jatakas which could be equivalent to the modern-day saree. The term for female bodice, the choli evolved from ancient stanapaṭṭa. Rajatarangini, a tenth-century literary work by Kalhana, states that the choli from the Deccan was introduced under the royal order in Kashmir. The petticoat is called sāyā in Hindi and Urdu, parkar in Marathi, ulpavadai in Tamil, sāẏā in Bengali and eastern India, and sāya in Sinhalese. Apart from the standard petticoat, it may also be called an inner skirt or an inskirt.

The history of a sari-like drapery is traced back to the Indus Valley Civilisation, which flourished during 2800–1800 BC around the northwestern part of the Indian subcontinent. Cotton was first cultivated and woven in the Indian subcontinent around the 5th millennium BC and dyes used during this period are still in use, particularly indigo, lac, red madder, and turmeric. Silk was woven around 2450 BCE and 2000 BCE.

The word sari evolved from śāṭikā a Sanskrit word mentioned in earliest Hindu literature as women’s attire. The sari or śāṭikā evolved from a three-piece ensemble comprising the antarīya or the lower garment; the uttarīya which was a a veil worn over the shoulder or the head; and the stanapatta, a chestband. This ensemble is mentioned in Sanskrit literature and Buddhist Pali literature during the 6th century BCE. This complete three-piece dress was known as poshak, a generic term for a costume. The ancient antariya closely resembled the dhoti wrap in the fishtail” version which was passed through legs, covered the legs loosely and then flowed into a long, decorative pleats at front of the legs. It further evolved into the Bhairnivasani skirt, today known as ghagri and lehenga. The  Uttariya was a shawl-like veil worn over the shoulder or head, and evolved into what is known today known as dupatta and ghoonghat. Likewise, the stanapaṭṭa evolved into the choli by the 1st century CE.

It is generally accepted that wrapped sari-like garments for the lower body and sometimes shawls or scarf like garments called uttariya for the upper body, have been worn by Indian women for a long time, and that they have been worn in their current form for hundreds of years. Based on sculptures and paintings, tight bodices or cholis are believed to have evolved between the 2nd century BCE and the 6th century CE in various regional styles.

After this short history about the saree, let’s take a trip around the country to see the various fabrics and sarees available in the different states of India. This is by no means an exhaustive list and I have probably missed many regional varieties, so apologies in advance if I have missed something I should not have.

Andhra Pradesh

Chirala: A coastal town also known as Kshiraputi, Chirala, which means saree in Telugu is renowned for its handlooms that are soft and durable. With more than 60% of the town’s population belonging to the weaving community, the looms used in the town are mostly pit or fly shuttle looms and the motifs in the fabrics and sarees are usually geometrical designs. The weavers of Chirala produce, cotton sarees, seico sarees that are a fine blend of cotton and silk fibres and kuppadam or the Gadwal type. The hand butta is another fascinating design feature of Chirala sarees, where colours are manually added in-between the zari design. Kalamkari printing is also a speciality of the Chirala saree.

Dharmavaram: Handloom silk sarees, Dharmavaram fabrics are textiles woven by hand with mulberry silk and zari which is fine thread traditionally made from gold or silver. The Dharmavaram fabric has a GI or Geographical Indications tag.  Kriya Shakthi Vodavaru Swamy named Dharmavaram after the name of his mother, Dharmambai around 1153–54 and by the 19th century, the silk handloom industry emerged as the main occupation. Paintings on the roof wall of Lepakshi temple and the Latha Mandapam depict the designs of Dharmavaram sarees. These saris are worn in the winter months or when it is cold and on special occasions and are mostly used by dancers of Bharatnatyam and Kuchipudi.

Kalamkari: A type of hand-painted or block-printed cotton textile, Kalamkari is produced in Isfahan in Iran and Andhra Pradesh. Only natural dyes are used in Kalamkari, which involves twenty-three steps. There are two distinctive styles of Kalamkari art in India, the Srikalahasti style and the Machilipatnam style. The Srikalahasti style of Kalamkari is where the kalam or pen is used for freehand drawing of the subject and filling in the colours and is entirely hand-worked. This style flourished in temples centred on creating unique religious identities, appearing on scrolls, temple hangings, chariot banners as well as depictions of deities and scenes taken from the Hindu epics like the Ramayana, the Mahabharata and the Puranas. The Machilipatnam style of Kalamkari involves vegetable-dyed block painting, where the dye is applied to the fabric with the help of wooden blocks. The natural dyes for the cloth are obtained by extracting colours from various roots, leaves, and mineral salts of iron, tin, copper, and alum and mixing them with cow dung, seeds, flowers, and milk.  Historically, Kalamkari used to be termed Pattachitra, an art form still found in neighbouring Odisha and other parts of India and Nepal. The term Pattachitra translates to patta, meaning a cloth, with picture or chitra. Paintings made on fabric and fabric scrolls are mentioned in ancient Hindu, Buddhist and Jain literature. Under medieval Islamic rule, the term Kalamkari is derived from the words kalam, which means pen in Telugu, and kari, which means craftmanship and this style became popular under the patronage of the Golconda sultanate.

Mangalagiri: Mangalagiri Sarees and fabrics are produced by handloom weaving in Mangalagiri, a town in Andhra Pradesh. Mangalagiri cotton silk sarees are a unique variety, woven from cotton, and feature characteristic features such as zari on the border and no woven pattern on the body. Borders in thick gold thread or zari, traditional patterns in Nizam, and simple mono or multicoloured striped pallus adorn the fabric. The sarees have various designs like leaves, mango, parrot, and gold coins. The soft and comfortable all-weather fabric generally has no pattern on the body and is known to have no gaps in its weaving with missing saree threads rarely found. As the town is also the abode of Lord Narasimha Temple, the saris are also used by the devotees for devotional purposes.

Uppada: The Uppada Jamdani Sari is a silk sari style woven in the town of Uppada in Andhra Pradesh and is known for its light weight. The saree was also accorded the Geographical Indication tag from Andhra Pradesh. The name Jamdani is a Persian terminology, in which Jam means flower and Dani means a vase. The Jamdani style of weaving originated in Bangladesh and was brought to the south and Uppada village in the 18th century and recreated with a local flavour. old The Jamdani style of weaving is about 300 years old and in 1972, Uppada weavers were recognised by the Indian government with the President’s award. The Uppada Jamdani saree is a beautiful textile with a silk-like texture and is lightweight. The weaving of the saree takes between 10 to 60 days for which least 2-3 weavers spend 10 hours a day. There are around 3000 looms producing Jamdani sarees in and around the Uppada and Kothapalli area. Around 40% of the local weavers are women. The saree consists of a cotton body with a silk pallu and is completely handwoven. The saree is woven in such a way that it can be folded and fit inside a matchbox. The speciality of the Jamdani saree is that the design is shown on both sides of the fabric.

Venkatagiri: Woven in Venkatagiri near Tirupati in Andhra Pradesh, this fabric has also been accorded the GI tag and is known for its fine weaving. The history of the saree dates back to the early 1700s in the Venkatagiri village and were encouraged by the Velugoti dynasty of Nellore and also by the Bobbili and Pithapuram dynasties. In those days, they were mostly woven fabrics for royalty and landowners.


Assam Silk: Assam silk refers to the three major types of indigenous wild silks produced in Assam —golden muga, white pat and warm eri silk. Assam was well known for the production of high-quality silk since ancient times. The knowledge of sericulture probably arrived with the Tibeto-Burman groups which arrived from China around 3000-2000 BC. Genetic research on silkworms shows that Assam silk originated in two specific regions of Assam, the Garo Hills in the ancient Kamrupa Kingdom and Dhakuakhana in the ancient Chutia kingdom.

Muga silk is the product of the silkworm Antheraea assamensis endemic to Assam. The silk produced is known for its glossy, fine texture and durability and has a natural yellowish-golden tint. It was previously reserved for the use of royalty. This silk can be hand washed with its lustre increasing after every wash. Very often the silk outlives its owner. The silk has been given the Geographical Indication (GI) status since 2007.

Pat silk is produced by the Bombyx textor silkworms which feed on mulberry leaves. It is usually brilliant white or off-white and must be dried in the shadows and not in direct sunlight. Eri silk is made by the Samia cynthia ricini which feed on leaves of castor oil plant. It is also known as endi or errandi silk. Because the manufacturing process of eri allows the pupae to develop into adults and only the open-ended cocoons are used for turning into silk, it is also popularly known as non-violent silk which is soft and warm and is popular used as shawls and quilts.


The Bhagalpuri or Kosa or Tussar Saree is Tussar silk that is valued for its rich texture and natural deep gold colour. The tussar silk weaving industry in Bhagalpur is more than a century old and has about 30,000 handloom weavers working in producing the sarees. Bhagalpuri silk is made from cocoons of Antheraea paphia silkworms which are only found in India and is processed at Nathnagar at Bhagalpur. The unique dyeing technique of these Bhagalpuri silk sarees sets them apart from the art silk sarees. The saree was supposed to have been produced in ancient times and even Mughal rulers patronised the weavers. But the technique soon got extinct and was revived about 200 years back by the weavers. The silk fabric is extremely soft and lightweight and is known as the queen of fabrics.


The Chattisgarh Kosa saree is Tussar silk similar to the Bhagalpuri Kosa. Kosa silk is mainly derived from Antheraea mylitta, an Indian silkworm and is special type of tussar silk that is drawn out of the cocoons grown on trees like Saja, Sal, and Arjun mostly grown in Chattisgarh. The silk is widely popular owing to its sturdiness, purity and soft texture. The dull golden brownish texture of the silk is its signature trait, but can also be found in natural shades of dark honey, fawn, orange, pale golden and cream. The actual colour of kosa is a dull gold, but the finished fabric is dyed with natural dyes extracted from natural dyes. The towns of Champa and Korba are known for their production of Kosa Silk, and the silk produced in Champa is considered to be the best silk.


Bandhini: A type of tie-dye textile decorated by plucking the cloth with the fingernails into many tiny bindings that form a figurative design, Bandini or Bandhani dates back to the Indus Valley Civilization where dyeing was done as early as 4000 BC. The earliest example of the most pervasive type of Bandhani dots can be seen in the 6th-century paintings depicting the life of Buddha found on the wall of Cave 1 at Ajanta. The main colours used in Bandhana are natural. As Bandhani is a tie and dye process, dying is done by hand and hence best colours and combinations are possible in Bandhanis. The fabric used for making Bandhani sarees and dupattas are loosely woven silk called Georgette, or cotton known as Malmal. The knots are tightly tied, and the rest of the fabric is dyed in multiple stages. This leaves the knots undyed and hence a beautiful flower-like pattern appears all over the cloth as a design.

The term bandhani is derived from the Sanskrit verbal root bandh which means to bind or to tie. Today, most Bandhani can be found in Gujarat, Rajasthan, Sindh, Punjab and Tamil Nadu where it is known as Sungudi and is known as chunri in Pakistan. The art of Bandhani is a highly skilled process with the technique involving dyeing a fabric which is tied tightly with a thread at several points, thus producing a variety of patterns, depending on how the cloth is tied. The main colours used in Bandhana are yellow, red, blue, green and black.

The Bandhani work has been exclusively carried out by the Khatri community of Kutchh and Saurashtra. Bandhani work is also done in Rajasthan, where different colours and designs are used than in the Kutch and Saurashtra regions of Gujarat. Establishments of varying sizes in the entire Kutch belt in Gujarat produce many varieties of Bandhani. This Bandhani style is called Kutchi Bandhani. Bandhani tying is often a family trade, and the women of these families work at home to tie patterns.

Patola: A double ikat woven sari, usually made from silk, the Patola saree comes from the town of Patan. Similar to Bandhani, Patola sarees are also a type of tie and dye process and are well known for not losing their colour at all. They are very expensive, once worn only by those belonging to royal and aristocratic families. Patola sarees are found in two different types – the Rajkot Patola and the Patan Patola. These two are differentiated with the Rajkot Patola having a single ikat weave that is dyed vertically, while the Patan Patola has a double ikat weave and is dyed horizontally. The word patola is the plural form; the singular is patolu.

To create a patola sari, both the warp and weft threads are wrapped to resist the dye according to the desired pattern of the final woven fabric. This tying is repeated for each colour that is to be included in the finished cloth. The technique of dyeing the warp and weft before weaving is called double ikat. The bundles of thread are strategically knotted before dyeing. Patola saris from Surat, Ahmedabad and Patan are renowned for their colourful diversity and geometrical style.

Silk weavers of the Salvi community from Maharashtra chose Gujarat as the home for their renowned patola fabric. It is believed that the Salvis went to Gujarat in the 12th century to acquire the patronage of the Chaulukyas Rajputs, who ruled Gujarat and parts of Malva and south Rajasthan, with Anahiwad Patan as their capital. Legend says that over 700 patola weavers came to the palace of Raja Kumarpal, at the personal request of the king. The Solanki or Chalukya rulers used to dress in patola silk on special occasions. The art of Patola weaving is an ancient one. According to some historians, the art of Patola weaving was known also in the 4th century as seen by the carvings at the Ajanta caves. After the decline of the Solanki empire, the Salvis founded a rich trade in Gujarat. Patola saris quickly became a sign of social status among Gujarati women and girls, especially as part of streedhan or the items that a woman can claim as her wealth.

There are four distinct patterns which are woven primarily in Gujarat by the Salvi community. In Jain and Hindu communities, double ikat saris with entire designs of parrots, flowers, elephants and dancing figures are generally used. In Muslim communities, saris with geometric designs and floral patterns are typical, being worn mostly for weddings and other special occasions. Maharashtrian Brahmins wear saris woven with plain, dark-coloured borders and body and a bird design called Nari Kunj.

Tanchoi: Tanchoi sarees are one of a kind, having spots all over the surface and woven with a dual colour warp. The stand-alone feature of the Tanchoi saree is that the fabric texture background has a satin finish. Extra threads are added to give these sarees the appearance of being embroidered. Famed for the intricate and small weaving patterns over the fabric, the commonly used motifs are those of flowers, small birds in flight, peacocks and parrots. Tanchoi silk is said to have been brought to India by Chinese traders in the 19th century and later adapted to suit the preferences of the Indian market. Three Parsi brothers are said to have travelled from India to China in the 19th century and were enamoured by the technique. After learning the skill, they came back to Surat, Gujarat and trained the weavers in the technique and then evolved the Tanchoi weaving technique into Indian versions.

Tangaliya: A handwoven, GI-protected textile, made by the Dangasia community, the 700-year-old indigenous Tangaliya is native to the Surendranagar district in the Saurashtra region. The textile was usually used as a shawl or wraparound skirt by women of the Bharwad shepherd community. Woven on pit looms at homes, the technique involves weaving knots in colours contrasting to the warp colour to create the effect of raised dots. The weaving is based on precise mathematical calculations. The weaver has to count the warp yarns each time, before hand-knotting the dot in acrylic yarn, to produce geometric patterns. A single mistake can lead to the final design looking faulty. The effect of the pattern also has a tactile feel, similar to braille, because of the raised surface of the dots. This has become the signature style of the textile. Another important aspect is the visual effect of dots, which is most striking and appealing on dark colour bases, especially black. The graphic quality of white dots mixed with other bright coloured dots gives the craft its special appeal. Moreover, due to the ease of knotting the white colour yarn compared to coloured yarns, white dots were common. Traditionally, most woollen shawls featured graphic patterns of white and maroon coloured dots on a black base. With every wash, the cotton textile tends to become denser and integrates the dots even more finely between the warp and weft. Today, there are only fifteen families in Surendranagar pursuing this craft.

Jammu & Kashmir

Jamawar: Jamawar is believed to have been derived from the word jam which means a shawl or robe and war, which implies the chest, in either Persian or Kashmiri. The fabric is believed to have found its way to Kashmir from Persia and reached its peak during the heyday of the Mughal dynasty in India. Owing to the elaborateness that goes into the making of the weave, it takes months on end to craft a finished Jamawar piece, and sometimes, even years, depending on the level of intricacy involved. Jamawar is traditionally woven with a rich blend of Pashmina wool, cotton and silk. Given the generous use of colours and motifs, the finished weave is highly iridescent. One of the many distinguishing factors of the Jamawar is that it is so intricately woven that its front and back, both look identical, with no stray thread sticking out of its surface. A dominating design element of the weave is the paisley, which derives inspiration from Persia; other motifs of flora and fauna, too, are seen. Jamawars also feature a wide use of hand embroidery and traditionally, a single jamawar piece was woven with up to 50 varying hues.

Kani: The Kani weave is said to have originated in Kanihama village of Jammu and Kashmir, and its exquisiteness earned it the Geographical Indication (GI) tag in 2008. The word Kani translates to bobbins in Kashmiri because the weave involves extensive use of wooden bobbins on which varicoloured threads are wound. Legend has it that the art of weaving Kani shawls was first brought to Kashmir in the 15th century by Persian and Turkish weavers, who introduced this art to Ghiyas-ud-Din Zain-ul-Abidin, the eighth sultan of Kashmir. One of the most defining characteristics of the Kani weave, colloquially known as Kaniwar, is its impeccably patterned motifs. These motifs, which include flowers, gardens, creepers and paisleys are brought to life through a technique called twill tapestry featuring double interlocking, wherein both the warp and weft yarns are mounted diagonally onto each other on the loom.

Traditionally, Kanis are crafted from the pashmina wool of the local Changthangi goat. At the time of weaving, the loom is packed with bobbins or kanis, through which the craftsmen carry out the fashioning of the weave; a total of nearly a thousand bobbins or more can be used for a single weave. Each colour is woven in individually, with the help of bobbins wound with threads of that particular colour. The designs are first drafted in the form of sketches, in a grid-like format called naksh, after which each step from the draft is dictated to the weaver. An elaborately woven Kani shawl can take anywhere from 9 months to a year to be made, with two artisans working on it.

Pashmina Silk: A fine variant of spun cashmere, the animal hair fibre forming the downy undercoat of the Changthangi goat, Pashmina today may refer either to the material or to the variant of the Kashmir shawl that is made from it. The word pashm means wool in Persian, but in Kashmir, pashm referred to the raw unspun wool of the domesticated Changthangi goats. Both generic cashmere and pashmina come from the same goat, but generic cashmere ranges from 12 to 21 microns in diameter, whereas pashmina refers only to those fibres that range from 12 to 16 microns.

Samples of wool fibres discovered from corroded copper artefacts from Harappa dating back to the Indus valley civilization are extremely fine and resemble Pashmina and Shatoosh. In Mughal times, this was used as an indicator of rank and nobility. Pashmina blankets were also vital additions to a wealthy woman’s dowry in India, Pakistan and Nepal. The wool for pashmina is collected by combing the undercoat of the goat, and not by shearing, as in other fine wools. The entire process is carried out by hand by specialised craftsmen. The approximate time put into producing a single traditional pashmina stole is about 180 hours. Kashmiri embroidery or Kashida as it is known, employs bright and colourful designs, with motifs of floral borders, paisley and chinar leaves and other inspirational settings of nature. The patterns and the colours of Pashmina silk saree harmonises with nature. A heavily adorned pashmina silk sari with zardozi aari embroidery is a must in any bride’s trousseau. China accounts for 70% of the world’s cashmere production.

In the next part, we’ll see more fabrics and sarees from other states.

Travel Bucket List: India – Andhra Pradesh Part 6

After Kurnool, Mantralayam, Gandikota, Tadipatri, Anantapur and Puttaparthi, in this last part about Andhra Pradesh, we will visit some interesting places, including the world famous Tirupati temple.

A small quaint village, Lepakshi is located at a distance of 120 km from Bangalore. Founded in 1535 AD by Maharaja Aliya Rama Raya of the Vijayanagara empire, Lepakshi is a trove of several fascinating archaeological sites, beautiful ancient temples and rich culture. Each structure narrating a story of its own, this enchanting village also derives its name from the Sanskrit language meaning rise o bird and has folklore attached to it. Locals believe that according to the legend of Ramayana, Jatayu fell in Lepakshi after getting injured by Ravana. The village is most famous as being home to the Lepakshi Temple, known for the stunning Vijaynagar style of architecture and hanging pillars. A magnificent example of timeless art and architecture, the temples of Lepakshi celebrate the might of Lord Shiva, Vishnu and Veerabhadra. Apart from richly carved temples with inscriptions in Kannada and hanging pillar, the most striking feature of Lepakshi is the largest monolithic idol of Nandi Bull in the entire subcontinent made of granite. Lepakshi is a treasure trove of a fascinating range of art forms and traditional crafts. Visitors should make sure to stop and should shop for the handicraft items which Lepakshi is famous for, including things like banjara embroidery, brassware, cotton and jute durries, kalamkari paintings, Kondapalli toys, cherial scroll paintings and Bidricraft.

The Veerabhadra temple is dedicated to Lord Veerbhadra and built back in the 16th century. Also known as the Lepakshi temple, it is famous for its architecture characterised by hanging pillars and cave chambers. Another thing that makes the temple unique and a place to must visit is a footprint that is believed to be of Goddess Sita. As soon one steps inside the temple, they get glimpses of the history of Vijayanagara kingdom by way of pictorial representations. From the figures of musicians and saints to that of Parvati and Lord Shiva, the Lepakshi Temple has everything. Apart from the architectural importance, the temple according to Skanda Purana, is a divyakshetra, in other words, an important pilgrimage destination of Lord Shiva. The highlight of the temple is the Statue of Nandi Bull, made from a single granite stone. The temple is open daily between 5 am and 9 pm.

Located near the Veerbhadra Temple is another striking feature of the village, the idol of the Nandi Bull and paintings. This monolithic sculpture of Nandi crafted out of granite stone measures 4.5m in height and 8.23 m in length and is believed to be the largest statue in India. Other than this, another brilliant craftsmanship in form of sculptures and mural paintings can be seen on the walls of Natya and Kalyana Mandapams which are also popularly referred to as dance and wedding halls. In fact these incredible carvings are regarded as the finest specimen of Vijayanagara style of architecture.

Horsley Hills
Located near the southwestern border between Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka, Horsley Hills is a hill station that is often called the Ooty of Andhra. Located at a height of 4312 metres and is well-known for its breathtaking landscapes, Horsley Hills is also called as Yenugulla Mallamma Konda. The picturesque landscape of Horsley Hills also doubles up as a destination for adventure sports and activities such as trampoline, shooting, bow and arrow, wall climbing, water walking, rappelling, swimming pool, fish spa and a mini zoo. In addition to its tranquil natural charms, it is also the land of Kalyani, the oldest known eucalyptus tree which is believed to be around 148 years and one is at it, visit the Thimmamma Marrimanu banyan tree which is said to be the world’s largest banyan tree spread covering an area of 8 acres. The highest point of the hills offers a mesmerising view of the surrounding foliage, and the sight is serene against the backdrop of the sapphire sky. Situated closeby is the Horsley Hills Environment Centre which is home to a number of animals such as deer and crocodiles. The Gurramkonda Fort and Governor’s house are other fascinating pieces of history should be a part of a weekend getaway. A part of the Eastern Ghats, the hills in the region are believed to be one of the oldest in terms of geological existence. How the hills came to be known as Horsley Hills is a story, it is said that there was once a horse that guarded the Gurramkonda fort situated closeby with such ferocity that as long as it remained there, no one dared to attack the fort. The title of the hills near the fort was hence dedicated to the selfless service of the horse, and the name Horsley Hills or Horsley Konda came to be. Some others believed that it is named after a British General with the same name who built a bungalow here.

Steeped in religion, devotion and architecture, Chittoor is blessed with scenic beauty, cascading waterfalls and a beautiful hill station. Also known as the Mango City, Chittoor offers multiple varities of mangoes to please its visitors.

The Kanipakkam Vinayaka Temple was designed and constructed in the 11th century by Kulothunga Chola I, a revered Chola king. It was then rebuilt in 1336 by the Vijayanagara rulers. The name Kanipakam itself breaks into Kani meaning wetland and pakam meaning the flow of water into the wetland due to its presence next to river Bahuda. A Siva Temple was also created in the complex when Kulothunga Chola expanded the temple. It was to show his devotion to Lord Shiva as well as Lord Ganesha. What makes the Kanipakam temple unique is the fables and legends associated with it. It is reported that the idol of Vinayaka or Lord Ganesha grows every year so much so that the armour offered to the deity 50 years ago does not fit anymore. This historical temple with Ganesha as its primary deity is also known as Shrine of Water and is in Irala Mandal. The regal Kanipakam temple has immense religious significance and importance because of its miraculous idol. The water found in the complex is believed to be holy and can cure various deformities. Pilgrims visit this temple before going to Tirupati since it is a Vinayaka Temple. The Kanipakam temple is very well maintained by the authorities despite being a major crowd puller and is a rapidly developing complex. This unique sanctuary of Ganesha is in the middle of a river. Its significance lies in its purity and rich heritage.

The famous idol which led to the construction of the Kanipakam Vinayaka Temple has many stories linked to it. The most famous legend speaks of three farmers who were dumb, blind and deaf by birth. They needed water to irrigate their fields. They found a dried-up well and decided to dig it more. One of them started the work and was surprised to see his iron implement hitting a stone-like formation. As he continued to dig, he found that blood was oozing out of the stone. Soon the whole water had turned red because of the blood. He called out to the other two farmers to witness the event. As they had been present for such divine intervention, their deformities had disappeared. When the villagers found out about their miracle, they thronged to the well and decided to deepen it. However, they couldn’t as a self-manifested idol of Vinayakar emerged from the waters of that very well. Even today, the idol resides in the well, and its water branches are perineal and eternal. During the monsoon season, the well overflows and the water is provided to the devotees as Tirtham, holy water. The river of Bahuda, along with the banks of which the temple is built, also has a very popular story. Two brothers Sanka and Likhita were on a pilgrimage when the younger brother Likhita felt hungry. Ignoring his elder brother’s advice, he plucked a mango from the nearby mango grove and ate it. Sankha felt betrayed and reported his actions to the ruler, who in punishment deprived Likhita of both his arms. Later, when Likhita was taking a dip in the Bahuda river, a miracle occurred. Both his arms were restored! Hearing this, the ruler renamed the river as ‘Bahuda’ meaning human arm. The temple is open from 4 am to 9:30 pm with darshan timings from 6 am to 1 pm and then from 4 to 8 pm. The various poojas and sevas vary in fee from INR 116 to INR 7500 depending on the type of ritual devotees wish to perform at the temple

Hidden like a jewel behind the lush green forests of Andhra Pradesh lies a serene and tranquil place named Nagalapuram. Also known as Nagala Hills, it is famous for the various adventurous activities proffered in this scenic village. Nagalpuram is also known for housing the Nagalpuram Falls. A group of 3 waterfalls, it offers a great trekking opportunity and a stunning panoramic view. The trek to the waterfalls starts from the Arai Village where the journey starts from Nagala Dam. The dam welcomes the trekkers with a serene view and shows the way towards the waterfalls. The trek starts off on the simple plain ground until the water stream. The water stream is where the difficulty level elevates considerably and trekkers need to concentrate on every step there onwards. The nature of water as we know it is beautiful but also harsh at the same time. The intermittent positioning of the waterfalls and their pools are of great help to the trekkers and especially when the sun is right above the head. After sweating throughout the path, the sight of a cold water pool gives a joy uncomparable. Throwing the backpack down and getting rid of the shoes while running towards the pool and then taking off in the air to hit a perfect dive is not something that can be experienced often. Nagalapuram was built by King Krishna Deva Raya, the ruler of the Vijayanagar empire. He named the place Nagalapuram in the loving memory of his mother, Nagamamba.

Situated in Nagari Valley near Tirupati, the Kailasakona waterfalls are a beautiful perennial waterfalls with an interesting story behind them. Legend has it that Lord Kailasanatheshwara performed the marriage of Lord Venkateshwara Swami and Goddess Padmavati and later performed penance here. The water here at the Kailasakona waterfalls is crystal clear and is rich with minerals and is believed to have medicinal properties and healing effect. The foot of the waterfall can be reached and one can only gape at the awe-inspiring sight. To reach the waterfall, look out for the 10 km milestone on the way to Puttur and take a left deviation and drive for about 2 km.


The Kaigal fall is nestled amidst the Koundinya Wildlife sanctuary and derives its name from the village Kaigal, that surrounds it. Locally known as the Dumukurallu waterfalls which is a Telugu word used for a sound resembling the sound of falling stones from above, the Kaigal falls are perennial. The waterfall is subdivided into three cascading falls and water falls from a height of approximately 40 ft. The water forms several small pools at the bottom.

The Koundinya Wildlife Sanctuary is a wildlife sanctuary plus elephant reserve, housing exotic Asian elephants. There are around 78 elephants here, currently with an an abundance of flora and fauna. Acacia and bamboo are the two common plants that are found here. Several species of birds can be found here with the sanctuary being a popular attraction around April. There is a beautiful forest guest house which can be stayed in. The sanctuary is around 52 kms away from the Kaigal falls and will take about an hour or so to reach the sanctuary from Kaigal. High hills and deep valleys surround this immensely beautiful wildlife sanctuary. There is a shivalinga installed near the falls which the locals visit on special occasions like Shivaratri. The waterfall splits into three singular falls, one of which flows over this Shivalinga and it is a beautiful sight to view water cascading over the Shivling.

Also known as the Ubbalamudugu Falls, the Tada Falls is a gorgeous waterfall located near the near the Tricity and Oneness temple. Cascading from a towering height of around a 100 m, the crystal clear waterfall falling down the rocks is a visual delight and a sight to behold. The Siddulaiah Kona forest is nearby which is an ideal place for trekking, hiking and other foresty activities. Besides, Tada Falls is known for its an incredible landscape, lush greenery and ethereal hillocks. Also close by is the stunning Pulicat Lake and Shiva temple. Since the waterfalls are located in the woods, trekking is the most common way to reach the falls. Vehicles can be parked at the parking lot which is 10 km away from the falls before the trek. There is also a 3 km trek that goes along a clear stream for novice trekkers as well as a mid level trek up along some boulders to the base of Tada Falls. This trail is laden with dainty streams and lush green landscape sprawling all over, offering a pleasant experience and a gorgeous view.

Located 37 km from Tirupati, the holy city of Srikalahasti is famous for the Srikalahasti temple. It is one of the most important Shiva temples of south India built during the ancient Pallava dynasty. The place is an excellent example of south Indian architecture with highly adorned gopurams and extensively carved interiors that unfold the charms of Dravidian style pf architecture.

The Srikalahasti temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva and was constructed in 1516 by King Krishnadevraya of the Vijayanagara empire. The elaborate structure of the temple complex is a breathtaking view right from the entrance. It has intricate carvings of numerous mythological illustrations that one can explore in the divine surroundings. This magnificent temple is often referred as the Kailasa and Kashi of the south and represents one of the five elements or the pancha bhootas, vayu or air. The temple is open from 6 am to 9 pm daily and the Rahu Kethu Sarpa Dosha Nivarana Puja which takes place in the outer courtyard costs between INR 300 – 500 while within the temple premises, it costs between INR 1500 to 2500

At the centre of the city, is a significant temple dedicated to Lord Murugan known as the Subrahmanya Swamy temple. A modest climb of 150 steps take you to the temple, surrounded by flattering views of the city. The temple gathers much festivity and glitter during a 8-day festival called the Aadi Krithika festival. During this time a procession is carried out where Lord Subrahmanya Swamy and his consorts Sri Valli and Devasena are taken out on various vahanams.

With hills and streams around, the Bharadwaja Tirtham is a religious site with some of the most beautiful surroundings. The statue of Vinayaka with water all around, makes the spot all the more enchanting. One of the popular attractions of the town, this is a must visit area.

The Bhakta Kannappa temple houses an idol of Bhakta Kannappa and is tied to the legend that a tribal youth called Bhakta Kannappa gave his eyes to the Lord Shiva idol in the temple. Respecting his devotion, offerings are made to Bhakta Kannappa before they are to Shiva Linga, in this temple.

Steps through a hillock, surrounded by wide views takes one to a an ancient dedicated to Goddess Durgambika. Like most areas in the area, this one too finds itself a scenic backdrop and much natural beauty around.

Literally translating into ‘the valley of the thousand lingas’, the Veyilingala Kona Waterfall is a local favourite and one that visitors also gravitate to. The water here is said to have properties that can cure skin diseases and it is believed that a dip into the pristine water here can grant one salvation and is one of the most beautiful spots in the town.

Situated in the Chittoor district of Andhra Pradesh, Tirupati is known for Lord Venkateshwara Temple, one of the most visited pilgrimage centres in the country. Tirumala is one of the seven hills in Tirupati, where the main temple is located. The temple is believed to be placed where Lord Venkateshwara took the form of an idol and is hence home to the diety Govinda. Tirupati is one of the oldest cities of India and finds mention in plenty of ancient Vedas and Puranas.

The non-stop chanting of ‘Om Namo Venkatesaya’, the mad pilgrim rush and the 8-feet tall idol of Lord Venkateshwara – everything about the Sri Venkateshwara Temple is majestic. Spread over an area of 26 kilometres and visited by nearly 50,000 pilgrims every day, the temple is also commonly referred to as the Temple of Seven Hills.

There are other temples in Tirupati too that you can visit, including the Sri Kalahasti temple, Sri Govindarajaswami Temple, the Kondandarama Temple, the Parashurameshwara Temple, and the ISKCON temple. Tirupati is home to a unique geological wonder that you shouldn’t miss out on! The Silathoranam is a natural arch formed out of rocks and is located at the Tirumala Hills.

Home to the most famous and important Vaishnavite shrine of Tirumala Venkateswara Temple and other historic temples and is referred to as the spiritual capital of Andhra Pradesh, Tirupati is one of the eight Swayam vyaktha kshetras dedicated to Lord Vishnu. Tirumala is one of the seven hills in Tirupati, where the main temple is located. The temple is believed to be placed where Lord Venkateshwara took the form of an idol and is hence home to the diety Govinda. Tirupati is one of the oldest cities of India and finds mention in plenty of ancient Vedas and Puranas. Spread over an area of 26 kilometres and visited by nearly 50,000 pilgrims every day, the temple is also commonly referred to as the Temple of Seven Hills. In Dravidian translation, Tiru means the sacred or Goddess Lakshmi and pathi means abode or husband. Tirupati or Tirumala is referred to as Pushpa-mandapa in the Acharya-Hridayam from the 13th century. According to the Varaha Purana, during the Treta Yuga, Lord Rama resided here along with Goddess Sita and Lord Lakshmana on his return from Lankapuri. As per the Purana, a loan of one crore and 11.4 million gold coins was sought by Lord Balaji from Kubera for his marriage with Padmavathi. To pay back the loan, devotees from all over India visit the temple and donate money.

The city became great Vaishnava centre during the time of Ramanujacharya in the 11th century, from where Srivaishnavism spread to other parts of the Andhra Desa. Tirupati survived the muslim invasions and during the early 1300s during the muslim invasion of south India, the deity of Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple in Srirangam was brought to Tirupati for safekeeping. The first temple at Tirumala Tirupati was built by King Thondaiman, the Tamil ruler of ancient Thondaimandalam who is said to have built the original Gopuram or tower and the Prakhara in the 8th century. The temple town for most of the medieval era part of Vijayanagara empire until the 17th century and its rulers contributed considerable resources and wealth to the temple. The city has many historical temples including the Venkateswara Temple which bears 1,150 inscriptions in Sanskrit, Tamil, Telugu and Kannada languages which specify the contributions of the Pallava Kingdom around the 9th century, the Chola kingdom around the 10th century and the Vijayanagara empire in the 14th century.

There was no human settlement at Lower Tirupati until 1500, but with the growing importance of Upper Tirupati, a village was formed at the present-day Kapilatheertham Road area and was named Kotturu. It was later shifted to the vicinity of Govindarajaswamy Temple which was consecrated around the year 1130. Later the village grew into its present-day form around the Govindaraja Swamy temple which is now the heart of the city. In 1932, the Tirumala Venkateswara Temple was handed over to Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams by the TTD Act of 1932.

The Sri Venkateshwara temple is dedicated to Lord Venkateswara, a form of Vishnu, who is believed to have appeared here to save mankind from the trials and troubles of the Kali Yuga. Hence the place is also known as the Kaliyuga Vaikuntha and the Lord here is referred to as Kaliyuga Prathyaksha Daivam. The Tirumala hills are part of Seshachalam Hills range and are 853 metres or 2,799 ft above sea level. The Hills comprises seven peaks, representing the seven heads of Adisesha with the temple lying on the seventh peak, Venkatadri, on the southern banks of Sri Swami Pushkarini, a holy water tank. Hence the temple is also referred to as Temple of Seven Hills. The Temple is constructed in the dravidian architectural style and is believed to be constructed over a period of time starting from 300. The Garbagruha or sanctum sanctorum is called the Ananda Nilayam. Lord Venkateswara is in a standing posture and faces east in the garbha gruha. The temple follows the Vaikhanasa Agama tradition of worship and is one of the eight Vishnu Swayambhu Kshetras and is listed as 106th and the last earthly Divya Desam. The temple premises had two modern queue complex buildings to organise the pilgrim rush, the Tarigonda Vengamamba Annaprasadam complex for free meals to pilgrims, the Vaikuntam queue complex which is a series of interconnected halls that leads to the main temple, hair tonsure buildings and a number of pilgrim lodging sites. It is the richest temple in the world in terms of donations received and wealth. The temple is visited by about 50 to 100 thousand pilgrims daily or 30 to 40 million people annually on an average, while on special occasions and festivals, like the annual Brahmotsavam, the number of pilgrims shoots up to half a million making it the most-visited holy place in the world.

Standing to the north of Sri Venkateswara Temple is the Sri Varahaswami Temple which according to legend is said to belong to Sri Adi Varahaswami. It is advised to first pay a visit to this temple before visiting the Venkateswara temple, the reason being that Sri Varahaswami owned the seven hills on which the Venkateshwara temple stands. He agreed to hand the hills over to Sri Venkateswaraswami, on the condition that he too, should be worshipped. Hence, Sri Venkateswaraswami asked his devotees, to first pay a visit to Sri Varahaswami and then to him.

At a distance of about 5 km from the Tirumala temple in Tiruchanur, is the Sri Padmavathi Ammavari Temple dedicated to Goddess Padmavathi, also administered by the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam. Legend has it that while Akasha Raja of Thondamandalam was having a great yagna performed and had the earth ploughed, he found a little girl in a lotus flower, and hence the name, Padmavati. A voice from the skies asked him to love and bring up the child. As she grew up, she was married to Lord Venkateshwara. The temple is frequently visited by the devotees on their spiritual trail around the town.


The Vedadri Narasimha Swamy temple lies at a distance of 70 km from Tirupati and was constructed by Sir Krishna Deva Raya of Vijayanagar. It holds great mythological importance and is believed to be the site where Lord Vishnu battled with the demon rasksash Somakadu, won and took over the vedas from him.

The Sri Govindarajaswami temple is a 12th century Hindu Vaishnavite shrine built by Saint Ramanujacharya and is one of the biggest temple complexes in the district. The presiding deity is Lord Vishnu, also called Govindarajaswami. The beautiful traditional Dravidian architecture and its rich culture attract tourists in quite a large number every year.

A little away from the city of Tirupati, the Sri Venugopalaswami temple is devoted to Lord Venugopalan with the idol of Sri Sita Ramula Pattabhishekam. Some of the main festivals celebrated in this temple are Annual Bhramotsava, Ugadi Asthanam and Sankranti Utsavam.

The Sri Bedi Ananjaneyaswami Temple is dedicated to Lord Hanuman. A legend states that Lord Hanuman wanted to go searching for a camel but his mother tied him with bedis and went back to the Akash Ganga. Many believe Lord Hanuman can be seen even today standing at that very location.

Dedicated to the Lord Vishnu, the Sri Veda Nayaranaswami temple is one of the few temples in the country that depict the incarnations of Lord Vishnu whose prime form, Matsya or the fish is also depicted. This is the place where Vishnu defeated demon Somaka and took the form of a fish to retrieve the Vedas thrown in the water by the demon.

Situated on top of Narayangiri Hill amidst beautiful scenery, the Srivari Padalu temple is believed to be the place where Lord Narayan first set his foot on earth. It is an important pilgrimage and visitors flock in large numbers to offer prayers to the footprints of Lord Narayan.

The Sri Kalyana Venkateswaraswami temple is an ancient Vaishnavite temple, also considered an archaeologically important monument in India. The presiding deity is Lord Venkateswara, who is considered to be highly powerful and can absolve one of their sins, doshas and get rid of any obstacles they face in their lives.

An ancient shrine dedicated to Lord Venkateswars, the Sri Prasanna Venkateswaraswami temple is a dravidian architectural splendour with a magnificent idol of the presiding deity. It is a believed that offering prayers to the deity here relieves one of doshas or sins and removes obstacles one faces while achieving their goals.

The Sri Kodandarama Swamy temple or the Kodandarama temple is a temple in the heart of Tirupati, dedicated to Lord Rama. The Varaha Purana suggests that Lord Rama, Sita Devi and Lakshmana stayed here when returning to Ayodhya from Lanka. Built by the Cholas in the tenth century, this temple commemorates their stay here. While Ugadi and Ram Navami are celebrated on a grander scale, the Brahmotsav is also celebrated here every year. There is a sub-shrine dedicated to Anjaneya or Lord Hanuman, Lord Rama’s most devoted devotee.

Kanipakam is a village most famous for the Kanipakam Vinayak temple, built in the 11th century by King Mahavarman Sundara Pandian and for the Shiva temple which was built by King Kullotunga Chola. The rich religious significance of the temples and the stunning ancient architecture attracts visitors in large numbers each year.

The Akasha Ganga Teertham is a waterfall, located at a distance of 3 km from the main temple which has water flowing all throughout the year and holds immense religious significance. Pilgrims can also pay homage to the Devi temple situated very close to the waterfall which is beautiful sight to see during the monsoon season. A sacred lake located amidst dense natural vegetation, the waters of the Tumbhuru Teertham is believed to have magical powers and can absolve one’s sins and help them attain moksha. The attraction is also famous for its natural beauty and is frequented by nature lovers for nature walks. A Shaivite temple, the Kapila Teertham is a famous pilgrimage in the city located at the entrance of a mountain cave at the foothills of Tirumala Hills and is a marvellous example of Dravidian architecture. The presiding deity is Lord Shiva who is locally known as Lord Kapileshwara and the idol of the deity was installed by Kapila Muni. Japali Teertham is dedicated to Lord Hanuman and is situated amidst dense forests. It is believed that Lord Hanuman used to visit the location often to quiet his mind and soak in peaceful atmosphere. It is also believed that Lord Rama and Goddess Sita also stayed here. The water of the Teertham is said to have magical powers and can wash away all the sins a human has made. It is believed that taking a dip in the holy Papavinasam Teertham can absolve one of their sins. It is also famous for its scenic beauty with the route going to the falls going through uneven rocky trails amidst beautiful surroundings making it a perfect location for nature walks.

The Chakra Teertham waterfall is a famous water body considered to have high religious importance. It is believed that Lord Brahma performed penance at this location which was later cleansed by Lord Vishnu with his Sudarshan Chakra. The place where his Chakra fell is known as Chakra Teertham. The water is said to have healing powers and can absolve one of their sins. Considered a sacred waterfall, the Vaikuntha Teertham is associated with the legend of Ramayana. It is believed that Lord Rama’s vanarsena or monkey army located the teertham. A dip in the holy waters is considered to bring luck, good fortune and absolve one of their sins. At a distance of 4 kms from the city centre, the Kapila Theertham is a popular waterfall situated inside the premises of the Kapileswara Swamy temple at the base of the Sheshadari Hills. The water cascading down of 100 metres to form a pool at the base is a gorgeously enchanting sight to see. Located in Sri Venkateswara National Park, the Talakona Waterfalls is the highest waterfall in the region and a famous picnic spot. The water is believed to have medicinal properties and comes from an unknown underground stream. The attraction is also famous for trekking and has several trekking routes running around it amidst the scenic natural surroundings.

Also known as the Natural Arch, the Silathoranam is a notified National Geo-heritage Monument and a distinctive geological feature 1 km north of the Tirumala hills temple, near the Chakra Teertham. One of only three of this kind in the world, the arch measures 8 m in width and 3 m in height, and is naturally formed in the quartzites of Cuddapah Supergroup of Middle to Upper Proterozoic due to natural erosive forces. Silathoranam comes from two Telugu words, which comes from sila meaning rock and thoranam meaning a garland. Thus it means a garland strung over a threshold, connecting two vertical columns or an ‘arch’ as in this case. Mythology related to the arch, linked to the famous Tirumala hills temple of Lord Venkateswara, has three versions. According to one version, the arch resembles the hood of a serpent, a conch and a discus, all symbols of worship in Hindu religion and considered to be the source of the idol of Lord Venkateswara or Lord Balaji at the temple. The second version is that the main deity in the Tirumala temple is of the same height as the height of the arch. The third version is that Lord Vishnu, known as Balaji or Venkateswara at the Tirumala temple town, is supposed to have put his first foot down at a place called Padalu or Sreevaripadalu which is the highest point of Tirumala hills, the second step at the location of the arch. Thereafter, the next step is stated to have been placed where his idol is now worshipped in the temple at Tirumala.

Almost neighboring the Sri Venkateshwara Temple, is Swami Pushkarini Lake. According to the legends, the lake belonged to Lord Vishnu and was located in Vaikuntham, his divine abode. It was brought to the earth by Garuda, for the sport of Sri Venkateshwara. Extremely holy, the pilgrims usually take a dip in the waters of this lake before proceeding to the main temple.


Located about 10 km from Tirupati and on the Eastern Ghats, the Venkateshwara National Park with an area pf 353 sq km and a biosphere reserve is home to endemic plant species and interesting fauna species like Slender Loris, Tree shrew, Wild dog etc. Bird watchers are also in for treats like the crested serpent eagle, the Indian roller and kingfishers etc. But the main attraction of this national park are the three waterfalls, viz, Talakona, Gundalakona and Gujana. The park is open on all days from 9 am to 5 pm with an entry fee of INR 50 for adults and INR 10 for children. The best time to visit the park is between December to March and August to November.

Located amidst the beautiful natural surroundings, the Deer Park in Tirupati houses a large number of deer and other regional flora and fauna. Tourists on their way to Tirumala often take a pit stop here and spend a few hours in the company of the deer, feed them and also watch them thrive in their natural habitat.

The Chandragiri Palace & Fort is a 11th century monument built by the Yadav Naidu kings and is also associated with the Vijayanagara Kingdom. The stunning structure is a perfect example of Vijayanagara architecture. Tourists are drawn by its rich history and heritage value. The attraction has fortnightly light and sound shows and the annual celebration of Madras Day.

Established in the year 1980, the Sri Venkateswara Dhyana Vignan Mandiram in Tirupati is a museum that houses some of the most traditional articles that are used to perform Puja. There are many stone and wood carved items that can be found here. The museum is extremely beautiful and fills into you a sense of religious faith not easy to describe.

The Sri Vari Museum is where one can get a glimpse into the religious history of the region. The museum has an impressive collection of artefacts that give insights into the ancient history and architecture of the temple that includes sculptures, photographs, scriptures, temple and pooja utensils, etc.

Regional Science Centre at Tirupati is a famous planetarium with a marvellous sky observation deck, galleries, parks and equipment of the highest quality. The centre also holds several demonstrations, exhibitions and shows in schools and institutes through their mobile science exhibition.

We have come to the end of our travel around Andhra Pradesh and I hope you have had as much fun reading it as I did researching and writing it. We will soon explore another state of India, so keep reading!