Foot Route to Tirumala in Olden Days
Earlier those who wish to go to Tirumala via Kadapa, used to opt for Swami Padala Trova which is on the “BALI PALLE– MAMANDURU” road. The reason for getting this name is that at the entrance of the mountain route, there are feet of Swami carved in stone. But unfortunately, they are broken now because of the greed of treasure hunters.
Of late, this route is also getting prominence as “ANNAMAYYA ROUTE”.
Earlier, Kadapa area was also under Srinivasa protected the empire. This is the gateway to enter the domain of the Lord. Since it is a threshold to the precincts of the Lord, the place was called “DEVUNI GADAPA” [Lord’s Threshold] metamorphosed into Kadapa.
This route is entirely a forest route. No other means, except to go on foot! It used to be under the petty ‘chieftains’ during the British rule. Earlier, at the entrance of this route, there used to be a stone structure, “Peddana Mandap” and a small pond, intended to quench the thirst of the yatris.
But now, all that is a reminiscence! From here, the climb is rather steep. On the way, we can find Chintamanu Perita (Tamarind compound). Earlier, cattle used to graze here. Subsequent to its inclusion in Sri Venkateswara Reserve Forest, all the cattle sheds have been moved away from the reserve forest area. Throughout this area, there are abundant trees.
As we walk, we see two huge boulders, which are called “AVVA-TATA GUTTALU” [Grandma-Grandpa hillocks]. Yatris going this way throw a stone onto to these boulders, as part of their prayers and vows. Alas, Lord Srinivasa has to take so much trouble to fulfil all their wishes!
Since it is close to Tallapaka, the native place of Annamayya, it is believed that his heirs have used this route for their travel to Tirumala.
It is said that Lord Srinivasa meandered all this area on a horseback, looking for a suitable dwelling place. As a proof for this, there is a mark of the hoof. Devotees worship this ‘hoof mark’ reverentially.
After crossing this, we can find a big pond. By now, yatris will have reached a height of 1800 feet from the sea level. Tirumala Hills can be seen from here! Hereafter, the route is rather flat.
After walking a little distance, we come across a scenic place called ‘YERRI GUNTALU’, in the grove of Eucalyptus trees. Earlier it used to be a cool tank to quench the thirst of the passing pilgrims and also of forest animals.
If we go a little further, there stands “Eetakayala Mandap” [Dates Mandap]. A story is that an old lady sold dates to the pilgrims and with that money constructed this mandap replete with gorgeous architecture. Actually, it was the construction by Matla Kings, belonging to Vijayanagar Dynasty time. It’s a sure proof to say that this route has been in existence for hundreds of years.
One can see different divine statues and figurines on the pillars of the Mandap. We also see scenes from Mahabharat and Bhagavat. In between, a magnificent statue of the Lord of the Seven Hills.
From there, we can have a bird’s – eye view of Tirumala. If we go down via Padikatla route, we will reach the road leading to ‘Papa Vinashanam Falls’ from Tirupati, behind Gogarbham dam.
That’s the end of the journey to Tirumala via Swami Padala Route.
*Data Source: Saptagiri Magazine