Tirupati Balaji temple is a Hindu shrine dedicated to Sri Lord Venkateshwara. It is a world famous pilgrim place for Hindu devotees. Over ten lakhs people from all walks of life visit temple every day. One of the important ceremonies which are deeply associated with Balaji temple is tonsure. Every day thousands of people get tonsured as a symbol of the sacrifice of their false-ego in the form of letting go their physical beauty by chopping their hair. For kids and babies, this ritual is followed as a part of the century-long tradition to devote hair to Lord to make a contribution to the promise which Lord Venkateshwara made to his mother, Neeladri. It is a free service from TTD (Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams Trust).
However, considering the crowd Tirupati manages every day, many people have a worry of how they will manage with small babies in the long and crowded queue with hours of waiting. Chikka Tirupati located in Malur taluk in outskirts of Bangalore is an answer for these worrisome questions. Chikka Tirupati is well connected with Bangalore and approximately an hour drive from K.R. Puram railway station. Being comparatively less crowd and at par with Tirupati Balaji in regards to management and required facilities, makes it an ideal alternative of Tirupati Balaji Temple who have the desire to offer prayer to Lord Venkateshwara but have limited time or concerns over the crowd.
At the entrance of the temple, a free vehicle parking space is available. You may park there or check with flower shop owners at the entrance (they are an excellent guide for any queries). There are lots of prayers items, toys, and snacks shop inside the premises. You can get a good deal based on your negotiation skills. In the left side of the premise, there is a separate hall for the tonsure ceremony. You need to purchase a ticket at the entrance of the hall and stand in one of the multiple queues for your chance. At any point in time, you will find approx. 4- 5 barbers in action.
The set-up is not great in terms of hygiene, but to ensure the medical safety, barbers use a new blade all the time before starting any tonsure. It is good practice if you carry your blade and ask them to use it on your turn. There is a possibility of small cuts here and there on the head while tonsure, for which barbers apply alums and suggests to later apply sandalwood after taking a bath. There is a designated place for bathing outside the tonsure hall with a proper supply of hot and cold water. Also, you will find lots of vendors with sandalwood paste; you may ask them to apply the paste on your head. It is advisable to apply sandalwood paste post tonsure as it helps to keep the head cool and heal the cuts fast. As per the TTD rules, tonsuring and getting water for bathing is a free service but people are happy to give offerings to the helpers as a gesture of gratitude.
Chikka Tirupati celebrates all the occasions similar to Tirupati Balaji. To get the Lord Venkateshwara darshan is a quick affair here in case you are not planning the visit on one of those auspicious days such as Bhramotsavam or Teppotsavam etc. The architecture of temple exteriors is different from the Tirupati Balaji temple, but the appearance of sanctum sanctorum is more or less the same. Also, comparatively the time you can spend here in front of the Lord is more.
In total, Chikka Tirupati is a good option to get the darshan of Lord and for tonsure. But definitely, it is not a substitute of Tirupati! Whenever you have time, ensure that you pay a visit to Tirupati Balaji. Whoever goes there once, only those understand the aura of it and are compelled to make the next visit as early as possible. 🙂