Thursday, April 15, 2010

Visa God

It is always a delight to be outdoors especially on weekends, but with mercury sliding up with each passing day in Hyderabad, forget about outdoors, it is even difficult to come out of your cool room. The kitchen feels like a pre-heated oven. For people like us, who are used to weekend outings, we felt as though we were kept on arrest.

So Last weekend we decided to make a 39km (from our doorstep) journey in the early hours of morning (5.15a.m) to Chilkur Balaji temple aka visa Balaji aka passport Balaji. Read temple history here

Our vehicle slided on the newly tarred traffic free road and we reached the temple at around 5.50a.m. This temple is generally very crowded on all the days, more so on weekends. We went round the temple praharams (corridor around the deity) 11 times, and even as we were going round, there was a priest who was narrating the temple history, about our Indian culture (why we keep bindi etc) and the politics clouding the temple (yes, politics hasn’t spared the lord also and he wanted the support of the devotees for this cause).

It was in chaste Telugu and so there were times I could not follow what he said.

He also recited the Shatrunjay mantra (mantra to keep away enemies) and asked devotees to repeat so that the focus of devotees would be on god while going around.

This divine place is also eco-friendly and uses no plastic bags. All pooja materials are sourced in cloth bags. The temple authorities have urged devotees to wear only handloom especially made compulsory on Saturdays. This is to acknowledge and encourage the handloom weavers of the rural villages around chilkur. Another important speciality of this temple is that there is no VVIP or special darshan Queues. (The reason why some people are dragging the temple into politics). Privileges are only for the differently abled, pregnant women and weaker senior citizens.

The devotees are mostly students and youngsters who have applied for overseas universities and awaiting their approval for admission and visa.

A story goes that 15 years ago a youngster circumambulated 11 times around the god and sought the god’s blessings for approval of Visa and overseas admission. He promised to make 108 rounds after his visa and admission were approved. Within a few days his travel documents and admission were approved.

News of this story went around and young students and overseas job aspirants started thronging the temple and their belief has come true till date and ‘ Chilkur Balaji’ also came to be known as ‘ Visa Balaji’/Visa God. He is also known as ‘ Passport Balaji'.

Many such devotees are now present worldwide in USA, UK, Australia, Middle East and other Asia Pacific countries, that ‘ Visa God’ was featured in ‘Wall Street Journal’ also.

After enhancing our feeling of pleasantness and experiencing some peaceful moments close to God and nature, we returned back to the hustle and bustle of city life.

We were back home by 8.30 a.m after a heavy breakfast at ‘Chutneys’ (heavy on our pockets too. Masala Dosa costs 89 rupees)

Thankfully back home before the temperature slided upwards to 43 deg, marking the day as the hottest day of April in the last decade.

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