Our pazhaya car now affectionately called as Dabba was our faithful companion on our umpteen road trips across the state, particularly along the Konkan coast where we covered almost 70% of the destinations mentioned in Outlook traveller's 52 weekend getaways. After he (dabba) retired a year ago, we were pudu maadu kulipaating our new guy for almost a year and now looks like he is all set to accompany us on our road trips starting with the one to mini Tirupati, at Ketkawale, 40 kms from Pune.
Three hours to Tirupati
This Balaji temple is a replica of the one in Tirupati. From Mumbai you take the Express highway to Pune and drive towards the Pune-Satara highway. Take a left at Kapurhol Phata (where you see this big hoarding in the pic) and further inside is this beautiful temple.
The parking at the temple is a bit of struggle thanks to the sad parking lot. This was our third trip to the temple and the parking area hasn't seen any improvement.You leave your footwear at the main counter for chappals and walk to the temple which is a bit of a struggle. You sing 'Kallum MuLLum kaalukku metthai' and walk through the rubble for sometime and reach the temple. Senior citizens will find it a bit tough, though the walk is only for a minute or so.
The temple shuts for around half an hour at various intervals - i.e 1st and 2nd bells. Please check pic for timings. Just before you enter the temple, here's a cool break for your feet with water flowing automatically from a hosepipe chill your feet.
A great darshan of the tall , dark and handsome for almost a minute. No Jarigandi! No Pudhechala... beautiful darshan!
You proceed to say hello to Mrs. Padmavathi, Hanumar and Kuber(ar). No archanai, no kumgumam, chandanam... just walk around, say hello to the deities and proceed...Prasadam? Yes ofcourse!
One Tirupati Laddu per person - free! But strictly one laddu with one big mundiriparuppu. Chaala Baaga undi
The best time to visit the temple is between 8 and 9 am. Leave Mumbai at 5 o clock, reach the temple at 8.20 am with a 15 minute break for breakfast, petrol, tea, kaapi etc just before Lonavla. Leave the temple at 9.30 or so and you are in Mumbai at lunch time.
May the Ezhukuntala vaada Venkataramana give you loads of money and stress free life this New Year!