Monday morning after breakfast – I had some difficulties with all the chilli-food, but there wasn’t anything else – our driver set out to show us a number of placed which Gokul had instructed him to show us. We first went to a little sanctum on top of the hill. We had to queue up a stair and there was a little shrine with the sanctum of the feet of the Lord which we touched.
Walking up to the little shrine
“Holy bangles” bound to the lamppost – a nice decoration way up to the shrine
Touching the “feet of the Lord”
Then we drove to a stone arch and a view down to a little “canyon” in the rocks.
Selling colourful necklaces
Afterwards we came to the place of “Akasha Ganga”, the cosmic stream of energy descending down to earth – water from a reservoir flew down through some gargoyles and people were washing their sins away in the downpour. A lovely place.
Akasha Ganga and the downpour of “cosmic waters of space”…
… washing away all the sins of the pilgrims – I decided that since I had other holy baths there were no more sins left to be washed away
We then came to another place of “Akasha Ganga” – a waterfall in the forest where people were standing in the waters and doing worship. It was a most idyllic place, and I enjoyed very much standing in the knee-deep water and near the waterfall.
The idyllic river
Standing in the water and rejoycing the scene like a little child
The sites were always surrounded by souvenir shops with all kinds of devotional objects. At the last place there was an old man with a monkey whom you could let jump on your head – an image of your “monkey-mind”.
The “monkey mind”
The water reserve for Tirumala
After some pause in our room we went by foot to the outside of the temple compound to take some photos which the day before we couldn’t do in the queue. It was a huge compound and many people with colourful dresses were flowing in and out. Many had cut their hair as a sign to leave back their old lives and start a new beginning.
Entering the temple compound of Tirumala
The entrance gate of the main temple. In the queues surrounding it we had waited 2 hours the day before.
View of the sanctum. The cupola and the interiour are made of pure gold
A little stage besides the main temple, with a replica of the statue of Lord Venkateshvara and on his left side the great poet-initiate Annamacharya, who had been here 500 years ago.
A huge tree with long air-roots near one of the bus-stands.
We afterwards took one of the orange-golden free buses which are continuously going around the city. We had to press in to get a place, but after a while when we came to the outer areas the bus became emptier. It was very impressive to see this city which just housing pilgrims and temples – the main temple being the most important one in India. In all of the crowds we didn’t see any other non-Indian coloured face.
Inside the bus
Tuesday morning we set out to our trip to Chennai. It took about an hour until all formaliTies of check-out wore settled – bureaucracy at its best. The hairpin-bends down the hill, then through villages and vast countrysides – it too nearly 6 hours for the 160 km ride to the airport.
We enjoyed the evening flight to Visakhapatnam, where a group member was already waiting with a taxi to pick us up. We went a zig-zag drive through backside-roads which I had never seen; for a while we had to wait in front of a level crossing without gates until the train started again.
Finally we arrived at the retreat center and received a warm welcome by the group members who had arrived already earlier. Tired but very happy I unpacked my luggage and had the first spice-free dinner since the last week