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Friday, September 26, 2014

Alipiri the start to holy Thirumala ..... Tirupathi Court sentences three

For Sri Vaishnavaites, the word Kovil, Thirumalai, Perumal Kovil would refer to “Sri Rangam, Thirumala Tirupathi and Kanchipuram” respectively. The sacred and most reverred temple of Sri Venkateswara is located on the seventh peak – Venkatachala hill of Tirumala.  The Lord stands tall as bestower of all boons and lakhs of people reach here to have a glimpse – a few seconds darshan of the Lord.  This beautiful temple in its present form owes a lot to the works of the greatest Vaishnava Acharya – Sri Ramanujar.  The very thought of Tirumala and chanting the name of Lord of Seven Hills would cleanse our souls.

“Adi vo Alladi Vo Sri Hari Vasamu…. Padi Velu Seshula Padagala Mayamu” … sang the famous Annamayya …. Look and behold, this is abode of Hari- the place where He resides, formed by the hood of Adisesha; places where sages dwell uttering His name all the time; the place replete with riches and prosperity, the Holiest of all places …. The sacred Thirumala, the abode of Lord Venkataramana, Balaji, Govinda.

Alipiri is the starting place at foothill of seven hills in Tirupathi, from where pilgrims starts ascending the Holy Thirumala. Alipiri literally would mean resting place. In olden days pilgrims used to climb all the seven hills only through the stepped way on foot, as there was no other option. Hence the pilgrims came from long distances used to take rest for some time there, cooked their food, eat there. After taking rest they started to climb the steps. What was thick vegetation and foothill of a forest has in the recent decade been converted– to a spacious hub where vehicles and persons undergo ‘security check-up’. 

There are now 3550 steps and for a healthy person would take around 4 hours to climb the hill.  The footsteps in most places are well covered and there are shops which make available things to the pilgrims.  The Tirumala Temple Devasthanam has made good arrangements which include taking care of the luggage of the devotees who ascend the hill on foot.  The baggage deposited at Alipiri is carried free of cost and the ones deposited at the foot of the hill can be collected at the top.  Also there are arrangement for issuance of tokens facilitating special darshan for them.   On the way stands a deer park which attracts people. At any point of time, you can see thousands of people climbing the hill by foot – the pilgrims include children, youth, old people and those with some disabilities – all in the faith and wanting to have darshan of the Lord Srinivasa climb happily singing paeans in praise of the Lord and speaking of the greatness of the Lord.

The transformation at this place in someways owes to that ghastly incident in Oct 2003, when the then  CM of Andhra Pradesh N. Chandrababu Naidu, survived an attempt on his life when suspected People's War naxalites exploded improvised claymore mines targeting his motorcade on the Tirumala ghat road at 4.15 p.m. Mr. Naidu suffered fractures on his right hand and collar bone and minor injuries on the chest and nose. The impact of the blast was so severe that the bullet-proof car was hurled in the air. The explosion left a huge crater on the road. The car was virtually reduced to metal scrap, but its interior was intact. A catastrophe was averted because the car could absorb the impact of the powerful blast.

……. Years later a Tirupati court on Thursday sentenced three persons -- G. Rammohan Reddy, S. Narasimha Reddy and P. Chandra alias Kesava -- accused in the Alipiri blast case to undergo rigorous imprisonment for four years and to pay fine of Rs. 5,000 each. The final verdict delivered by Additional Senior Civil Judge O. Venkata Nageswara Rao pertained to the second charge-sheet filed in the case. While the trio was being taken away from the court complex amid tight security, the fourth one, Rammohan Reddy, who worked as a sub-editor in a newspaper, claimed innocence and said even the investigating officials could not establish his link.

Of the 33 accused in the case registered in Alipiri police station in 2003, 11 died during trial and 15 were still at large.  Besides Mr. Naidu, others who were travelling in his bullet proof car, Minister Bojjala Gopalakrishna Reddy, MLAs Reddivari Rajasekhara Reddy and Chadalawada Krishnamurthy were injured.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

26th Sept. 2014.

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