For almost two months we were contemplating on visiting Maha Lakshmi Golden Temple at Sripuram near Vellore and finally the plans seemed to materialize during last week of May 2009. My brother-in-law Siva wanted to take his new Swift Dezire to Golden Temple Vellore and we decided to go there on a two day trip. We decided on taking two cars – My Santro and Siva’s Dezire as Siva’s friend Ravindran also joined in with his family.
Family 1 : PraveenKumar(Myself), Vathsalya Lakshmi (My Wife), Dad & Mom
Family 2 : Siva Subba Rao, Dr.Suman, Chaitanya & Narasimha Bai
Family 3 : Siva’s Friend Ravindran, his Wife and two kids Ranjit & Ranjan
As usual we did some research on the net and found two possible routes for Vellore.
Route–I : Bangalore > Hosur > Krishnagiri > Bargur > Natrampalli > Vaniyambadi > Ambur > Madhanur > Pallikondan > Vellore.
Total distance 225 Kms
Route–II : Bangalore > Kolar > Chittoor > Vellore. Total distance 215 Kms
Two months back we had visited Kotilingeshwara near Kolar and had travelled on route-II which was two lane with very average roads. So, we decided to take Route–I as the entire stretch is a 4 lane highway.
1. Jagadish Nagar – 0 Kms
2. NAL Quarters on Jeevan Bhima Nagar Road – 3 Kms (Take Inner Ring Road via Old Airport Road)
3. Silk Board Flyover – 10 Kms (Go Straight till Krishnagiri on NH-7 via)
4. Electronics City – 20 Kms
5. Attibele – 35 Kms
6. Hosur – 45 Kms
7. Kamandoddi – 55 Kms
8. Shoolagiri – 63 Kms
9. Krishnagiri Toll Plaza – 95 Kms (Rs.25/-) (After Toll Plaza two flyovers are there within a span of 3 Kms. Take the first flyover, skip the second flyover and take the side lane. Take left near the signal below the flyover and you are on NH-46. Go Straight till Pallikondan on NH-46 via)
10. Bargur – 108 Kms
11. Natrampalli – 129 Kms
12. Toll Plaza – 140 Kms (Rs.35/-)
13. Vaniyambadi – 148 Kms
14. Ambur – 164 Kms
15. Pallikondan Toll Plaza – 191 Kms (Rs.45/-)
Two options from here
a. After 2 kms take the right turn towards Sripuram when you see the direction board. It is a single road which is really bad in some stretches. We took this route. Please avoid this route
b. Go straight ahead on NH-46 till Vellore and go towards Vellore Fort. Here take a right turn towards Sripuram
Have to go through Vellore traffic and an additional 5 kms, but still you will reach faster as the road is good all the way till Sripuram
16. Sripuram – 220 Kms
Saturday, 30 May 2009 (Bangalore to Vellore Golden Temple)
Woke up at 5:30 am, got ready and started from Jagadish Nagar in my Hyundai Santro, filled petrol (Rs.500/-) and reached NAL Quarters on Jeevan Bheema Nagar Road. Siva and his friend Ravindran’s family were loading their luggage in Maruti Swift Desize. After finalizing the places in the two cars we started at 8:00 am and reached Hotel Sukh Sagar in Koramangala at 8:15 am. Got the breakfast packed and resumed our journey at 8:45 am. The road after Silk Board was ok but with lot of diversions and bad to worse stretches in between. We crossed Electronics City at 9:05 am and within 5 minutes we reached the real NH-7 two lanes on each side of the road. The separators are maintained well with colourful flower plants. At 9:10 am Vathsalya took over the wheel and started driving cautiously till we took our first break for breakfast at 9:30 am (40 Kms). We resumed again at 9:55 am and crossed Hosur at 10:10 am and from here the traffic was thin. Vathsalya opened up and started driving with the speedometer constantly between 70 and 80 kmph (As I was not allowing her to go beyond 80 Kmph). 5 Kms before Krishnagiri, we took another break of 10 minutes at 11:00 am allowing Siva to catch up with us.
Reached Krishnagiri Toll Plaza at 11:15 am, crossed the first flyover and after reaching the second flyover, took the side road. Below the flyover, we took left and we were surprised to find one of the best highways in the country NH-46. The drive from here was silky smooth (The co-passengers have to be alert and ensure the driver doesn’t doze off). On this highway, occasionally Vathsalya almost touched 100 Kmph. We reached the second Toll Plaza between Natrampalli and Vaniyambadi at 12:05 pm (140 Kms) and took another break for 10 mins. At 1:05 pm we reached Pallikondan Toll Plaza. We lost 10 mins as Siva had missed the right turn for Sripuram and gone ahead. We took a U turn and took the road towards Sripuram. It was a single road with dirt road for more than half of the stretch and it took almost one hour for reaching Sripuram Golden Temple.
It took us 6 Hrs to reach Golden Temple Sripuram. We had our lunch in Temple Canteen and decided to take rest as the climate was too hot for comfort. We took rooms with uninterrupted A/c in SRM Guest house, which was 1 km from the temple. The rooms were good as the guest house was newly constructed.
Finally the golden moment arrived. At 6:15 pm we reached the temple gates. Parked our cars at Temple’s Pay-n-Park Area (Rs.20/-). Purchased Rs.100/- tickets and entered the queue at 6:30 pm. The temple is constructed with beautiful landscapes and beautiful sculptures were erected in between. As it was getting dark the Temple Gopura was glowing brightly, making the scene a feast for our eyes. The path towards the Temple is in star shape. The royal path with the top covered is for free darshan visitors and just beside this path there is another path which is originally for draining rain water. This path is for Donation Pass visitors who are required to pay Rs.2508/1508/1004/500/250 (On Saturdays and Sundays it is only Rs.100/-).
We walked through the star shaped side path cursing the authorities for taking money and making us walk on this drain. Even though we cursed, we could enjoy the beauty of the Temple as the same will not be visible for the free darshan visitors. We reached a point from where the queue hardly moved. To our dismay the free visitors did not have any queue and they were constantly moving ahead. By the time we reached the main temple it was more than an hour. The sight here was astounding. The temple is completely covered with gold and except the front it is totally surrounded by water. The corridor is circular in shape separated from the temple on all three sides by water. Both the queues (Free Darshan and Donation Pass Visitors) go towards the temple in this circular corridor. Free Darshan visitors cannot view the Temple Gopura completely as the ceiling obstructs the view as their queue is on the outer side. We could see the Gopura completely as we were on the inner side. Some visitors have thrown coins, notes and visiting cards in the water. We followed suite and threw few coins in the water. Even though the queue was moving very slowly, we were happy as we were enjoying the scene. After reaching the front side, only donation visitors are allowed to go near and have a good view of Maha Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth. We really felt bad for Free Darshan visitors who were allowed to have darshan of Goddess Maha Lakshmi from almost 25 feet away. After the darshan we took Prasadam which includes a rectangle shaped laddu, a small packet of kumkum and a pocket photo of the guru.
While coming out I purchased some more prasadam (Rs.10/- each) for distributing to my colleagues (After reaching home I found that it is not the same laddu what we got after the darshan). By the time we came out it was 9:00 pm.
We headed back to the Temple Canteen. Myself & Vathsalya had juice and ice cream as we were not hungry. Others had light snacks like Dosa, Chapathi, Sabji, etc. We reached the guest house at 10:15 pm and slept peacefully without worrying about the plan for next day.
Sunday, 31 May 2009
We woke up the next day leisurely, got ready and checked out from the guest house at 10:00 am and went to the Temple Canteen for breakfast. We found that we were late so did not have many options. We had Masala dosa, Upma and Coffee. At 11:00 am we headed towards Vellore after filling petrol for another Rs.500/-.
Our next stop was Jalakanteshwara Temple which is situated inside the Vellore Fort. The temple is renowned for its sculptures and exquisite craftsmanship of that period. Many consider the sculptures, in the Mantapa (porch) on the left of the entrance, a masterpiece.
By the time we came out it was 12:45 pm. We had two options – have food in Vellore or in a dhaba. As the kids were hungry we decided to have food in Vellore. After asking around we went to Hotel Surabhi (Please avoid at all costs) which is supposed to be good for both Veg and Non-veg food. We realized that we made a big mistake by coming here. The food was pathetic, service was one of the worst, did not give drinking water till we demanded. Some of the items we ordered were not given irrespective of our repeated reminders, brought one chicken item after we finished our food and waiting for the bill. One of the items we ordered was mutton biryani and after almost one hour he brought chicken biryani which was stale and we returned it. The items which were not brought were also billed. We wanted to complain regarding the food and service but the Manager did not turn-up. On a scale of 1-10 I can give 2 with great difficulty.
We resumed our journey at 2:35 pm after wasting almost two hours for the useless lunch. Within 10 minutes we reached NH-46 and immediately Vathsalya took over the reins and started driving.
We took a ten minutes break at 3:05 pm immediately after Pallikondan Toll Plaza and had fruits as some of us were still hungry. As we resumed it started raining very heavily and lasted for 20 minutes. I was little apprehensive but Vathsalya was confident and drove carefully.
We took another break after crossing the second Toll Plaza at 4:15 pm. We ordered Onion Pakoras which tasted like non-veg. We played there for some time with the basket ball we brought with us. When we resumed it was 4:50 pm. From here we did not stop anywhere except when I took over the wheel at 6:15 pm when we were 55 kms away from Bangalore. From here the traffic increased and the roads were bad. Finally, we reached NAL for dropping Siva’s mother at 7:40 pm. We packed food from Thunder Fried Chicken and reached home at 8:00 pm.
Maha Lakshmi Golden Temple with its beautiful landscape, scenery, atmosphere, greenish lawns and fine architecture all combined together makes it worth to pay a visit.
Cheerio till our next trip !!!