Tuesday, January 18, 2011
Golden Temple in Sripuram, Vellore - Marvelous
We visited Sripuram Golden Temple in Vellore, this weekend. The temple can easily astonish the visitors. This is one of the best Hindu temples that I've ever visited. I heard that they took nearly 7+ years to build this temple and I can understand the time spent on this project.
The temple is built in an area of 100 acres of land, surrounded by a village called Thiruamalaikodi. Golden temple is located in SriPuram which is in Vellore, mid-way between Hosur/Bangalore and Chennai. It takes approximately 3 hours to get there from Hosur or Chennai. We just took a Google map to get there and believe it or not, it was very accurate. Not trusting Google, we stopped in a couple of places on the way to confirm the directions. The localites were very helpful in directing us. (Also read: Kovai Trip - Maruthamalai Visit)
The drive from NH46 in Vellore to the temple is nearly 10Kms. There is proper parking facilities near the temple, for Two Wheelers, Cars, and tourist vans/buses. They charged us Rs.30 for the car parking. You aren't allowed to carry mobile phones or cameras/camcorders into the temple. You can leave them in your car or in the dedicated stalls which are inside the temple. There is multi-level security checks and they make sure that you aren't sneaking-in with these gadgets. There is no entry fee - however, if you want to avoid a long queue or if you want to take a closer look at "Lakshmi Narayini" you can get a "Divya Darshan ticket". The "Divya Darshan Ticket" costs Rs.100 per person, which also gets you some "Prasadam". "Divya Darshan" is free for kids under 7. There is wheel chair assistance for elderly people and you need to purchase a ticket for that.
The main gate of the temple was HUGGGEEEE - resembled the gates that you would normally see in forts/palaces. You have to walk at least 1 km from the main gate, to get to the main temple ("Moola Praharam"). It was hard for me to believe what I saw inside the temple ... the place looked exactly like a Telugu movie set - but, it was real. The entire facility is 3+ years old and it still looked stupendous. Lush parks, beautiful fountains, neat walk ways, stalls serving snacks, proper restroom facilities ... - the place looked more like an "attraction" than a temple. I wish I had a chance to take some pictures inside. But, the photographs that I took with my naked eyes are still fresh in my memory.
It took us nearly 20 minutes to get to the Moola Praharam. There was no waiting at all. They had placards carrying spiritual inscriptions along the walkways. The view of the main temple was "magnificent". The main temple was soaked in gold and it glittered with the kisses from Sun rays. There was a pool of water around the main temple and my daughter asked "Dad! Is the temple floating on the water?". It indeed looked as-if the main temple was floating on the water. There was no one pushing you or pulling you in 8 different directions and we had a very peaceful darshan.
The difference between our visit to Golden Temple & Tirupathi is ... when you come out of Golden Temple, you feel peaceful and more energized. But, when you come of out of Tirupathi, you are completely exhausted and tired. The temple authorities had stores strategically located near the exit, selling articrafts, souvenirs, and idols. There were also "Anna dhanam" facilities serving "free food" to devotees. The temple was filled with seasonal "Sabarimala devotees" and there were people from all walks of life. (Also read: Tirupathi Tirumala Visit - May be the last?)
The temple looked more like a commercial establishment/attraction. They had workers who are neatly dressed and carrying proper identification cards. There were security personnel deployed all over the place. They had people watering and maintaining the gardens. There were clear sign-boards everywhere - written in Tamil, English and Kannadam(?).
We spent nearly an hour and a half inside the temple. But, you can easily spend 3 or 4 hours inside the temple if you are very spiritually inclined. There are hawkers selling snacks/toys outside the temple and there were enough restaurants near by. You can get to the center of the Vellore city in about 15 minutes from the temple and there are neat restaurants there. (Also read: Rameswaram Trip Experiences)
Overall, I enjoyed our trip to Golden Temple in Sripuram Vellore. If you are in/around Chennai, I would definitely recommend you to visit the temple.
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