Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Paapa Vinasam run at Tirumala

My childhood pal, Vijay married Kalpana in Tirumala on 28th Nov. There was no way I could have missed the wedding and the opportunity to ride the good roads to Tirumala. I added a cherry on top – a 16km run on Tirumala to Papavinasam.

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Head out on Old Madras Road via Kolar, bear left at Chitoor, the bypass is potholed and very avoidable. I reached Tirupati at 6 in the evening, after 4hours of riding. There’s a through security check before you begin the 20-24km ascent of Tirumala hill. It was pitch dark when I started the climb. The well-lit, well-marked, one-way curvy section, is a treat to any biker. The brightly lit tilak, padma and chakra of the Lord visible almost right through the uphill ride plus the steady traffic on road ensures that the throttle is on leash.

I walked into the wedding ceremony - leathers, boots, helmet and tank bag in tow. The vara pooja and reception was held on Tuesday. I stayed with Vijay and Centhil in one of the guest houses at Tirumala.

The next morning, I pulled out my dri-fit tee, shorts and running shoes. I stated off towards Papavinasam about 8km from Tirumala. It is a very scenic ghat route that cuts across lush vegetation, offering multiple view points of the Tirumala hills.
Upon ‘wiking’ I find, Tirupati has seven hills representing the seven heads of a huge serpent.

The fist thoughts that come to mind when you think of Tirupati is the endless queues, the melee at the temple complex. The only pleasant thought is that of the laddoo you ‘earn’ after the darshan. The temple failed to touch my spiritual side on my previous two visits.

But this time, as I jogged through the hills, I saw why Tirumala invoked so much spirituality. The rocky hills all around, the dense vegetation, the lakes and streams – so divine that you connect with your inner self.
There is God in those hills, guys, so next time you plan one of those TTD darshans spare a couple of hours to explore the beauty that really is Tirumala.

I would have missed all of this if it were not for the running. After having run about 5kms I spotted a dam at a distance off the road. There was a path taking to that one, the gates to the dam were locked, but there was a gap to squeeze through. The view was simply out of the world – there were all possible hues of green, reflecting off still water of the reservoir- all packed in one picture perfect postcard.

Papavinasam – is the place where you are supposed to wash off all your sins. And like most tourist-thronged places, it was disappointing. Water flows down some pipes and devotees take bath underneath, if any, one could pick up a few sins there…
I let the water wash off my hair. The sins of the head, I washed off… the sins of the heart are only meant to scar.
I ran off-road on the way back to check out a very beautiful lake, fantastic stuff really.

I got back to Vijay wedding feeling so refreshed. The wedding itself was grand, almost to a point where it got bigger than the bride and the groom! I hit the highway immediately after lunch.

The ride down the hill was also great – the challenging curves and the view of the hills for all of the 20odd kms ride.
At 6, the weekday evening traffic chaos at KR Puram brought me straight back to the ground with a thud.

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