Boarding the Train
It was in the month of June 2015 that our family decided to visit Tirupathi for Lord Venkateshwara's darshan. I looked up IRCTC's web booking portal and got to know about the only available overnight train to Tirupathi originating from Mysuru. The train was 56213 Mysuru-Tirupathi Fast Passenger. The train is now running in the Express category with the increase in speed limit and originating from Chamarajanagar operating via Mysuru. The other choice was to travel by 22617 Bengaluru-Tirupathi Intercity-Express operating as a tri-weekly but we did not get to book tickets on this train as it was not running as per our planned day of departure.
The passenger train then had the First Class coaches. First Class coaches offered privacy in a four-berth cabin but did not have the facility of an air-conditioner onboard. The First Class coaches have now ceased to exist by duly replacing it with air-conditioned Three Tier coach or A.C.3 Tier Coach. I booked tickets on First Class coach F1 and we were allotted confirmed accommodation. The cabins were later assigned after the chart preparation prior to the train's departure from Mysuru.
The D-day arrived and we chose to book an app-based taxi to reach Kengeri railway station, the nearest railhead to my house. The taxi arrived at around 6.30 pm and we hopped onto it quickly. The expected departure time from Kengeri was around 7.20 pm and the train had only a brief halt for about five minutes at Kengeri railway station. We reached Kengeri railway station much ahead of time at around 7.10 pm. We moved to platform 3 which was the mainline section on the Mysuru-Bengaluru rail line. I was aware of the coach position and we moved to the entry point of the platform near the locomotive position to board the coach. The train arrived at around 7.30 pm and the travel ticket examiner was at the door waiting for the passengers. As soon as the train arrived we hopped on to it and settled down in Cabin B. Cabin B was vacant and another passenger boarded from Bengaluru railway station. The travel ticket examiner soon arrived and verified our e-ticket and identity cards. We then began to unpack the dinner box and started to have dinner. We had finished our dinner much before our arrival at Bengaluru railway station.
Arrival at Tirupathi
Upon our arrival at Bengaluru railway station at 8.30 pm, one could witness a heavy crowd all heading to the temple town Tirupathi. I got down there to get some fresh air and indulge in some railfanning activity. As mentioned another passenger heading to Tirupathi boarded our Cabin B and settled in the upper berth. The train soon left Bengaluru railway station at around 8.40 pm. The train then had its designated commercial halts at Bengaluru Cantonment and Krishnarajapuram Railway stations. The crowd filled up the train from these two stations. After proceeding from Krishnarajapuram railway station, we decided to sleep early as we had to wake up early the next day.
The next day I woke up at around 4.30 am and we were just thirty minutes away to reach Tirupathi. The train reached Tirupathi bang on time at 5 am. The train's rake had a rake-sharing arrangement or an RSA with 16204 Tirupathi to Chennai Central Garudari Express leaving Tirupathi at around 6.40 am. We disembarked from the First Class coach and there was a heavy rush on the railway platform. We waited for some time for the crowd to disperse and then headed to the main entrance to exit from the railway station. We hailed an auto-rickshaw to go to Srinivasa Nilayam, as we had booked accommodation over there. Upon arrival at the reception at Srinivasa Nilayam, we had to wait for a patient thirty minutes in the queue to obtain the keys for the room.
We were allotted the room upon verification of the identity card and booking credentials. The stay was restricted only up to 24 hours. I then sipped a cup of coffee at the restaurant available on the ground floor. After a fresh up we left for Tirumala and proceeded to the APSRTC bus stand to travel by bus. APSRTC has made an arrangement to Tirumala directly from the Srinivasa Nilayam complex and the buses are available at frequent intervals. However one had to wait in the queue for about forty-five minutes to board the bus to Tirumala. We boarded the bus to Tirumala and settled in the seats comfortably. The drive to Tirumala from Tirupathi was for about forty-five minutes to one hour. AS soon as we reached the Tirumala bus stand, we proceeded to Special Darshan or Sheegra Darshana queue which cost about Rs.300 per person. It took about two hours to get inside the main complex of the temple and we successfully had the darshan of the Lord Venkateshwara. We then took a rest for about fifteen minutes within the temple premises and proceeded to obtain Laddu prasadam.
Return to Bengaluru
Soon it was time for lunch and we decided to have it only in Tirupathi. We hailed a shared taxi from Tirumala to reach Tirupati which took an hour's drive. Upon reaching Tirupathi we disembarked near the city bus stand and headed to a restaurant for lunch. We had a sumptuous lunch and returned to our room at Srinivasa Nilayam. We had ample time to explore Tirupathi until our departure to Bengaluru the next day. We explored Tirupathi town by visiting various temple complexes and Padmavathi Temple.
The next day we had ample time yet again, and after breakfast prepared to leave our room by 12 pm. The check-out process was smooth as we handed out keys at the reception counter. I had made the return journey bookings onboard 22618 Tirupathi-Bengaluru Intercity Express in an air-conditioned Chair Car coach. We arrived at the railway station at around 1 pm and the train had just arrived from Coimbatore and shunted on platform number 1. The train otherwise has a rake-sharing arrangement with 22616 Coimbatore-Tirupathi Intercity Express and runs on alternate days to Coimbatore and Bengaluru from Tirupathi. The doors of the air-conditioned coach were locked by the maintenance staff to facilitate the cleaning of the coach.
As soon as the doors were opened we settled in our seats quickly, as it was a very hot afternoon. We then decided to have some lunch and unpacked the lunch box to have food. After lunch, I got off the train to do some railfanning and soon it was time to leave Tirupathi at 2.50 pm in the afternoon. The train left from platform number 1 and soon our tickets were verified by the travel ticket examiner. After crossing Pakala and Chittor, the next halt was at Katpadi Junction and I got down here for a few minutes to get some fresh air.I sipped a cup of hot coffee and returned to my seat soon after the train's departure. The journey from Katpadi to Bengaluru was uneventful as it was dark outside and it was not possible to do any railfanning. We reached Bengaluru at around 8.40 pm and hailed an app-based taxi to reach home by 9.30 pm. Thus our pilgrimage to Tirupathi from Bengaluru ended on a happy note.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
Varun Dambal (author) from Bangalore on June 05, 2021:
Liz Westwood from UK on June 05, 2021:
This is an interesting account of your journey. You are building up a big catalogue of articles about your past travels.