A visit to the Visa God of Chilkur Balaji Temple
Quick question: God made man or Man made God? Well if you do not know the answer you need to visit the Visa God of Chilkur Balaji Temple in Chilkur Village on the outskirts of Hyderabad. You see the ancient gods in all the hunter gatherer, and later agrarian societies were responsible for some act of nature, like in India we have Indra for rains, agni for fire, similarly in pre-Christian mythology of Europe you have Bubona for cattle, Nympha for watering the crops etc. Or the gods and goddesses are based on celestial bodies like Sun (Indian, Egyptian and almost all Aztec and Inca cultures) Jupiter in Indian and Greek and so on.
As man evolved the gods also evolved and we made gods specialize as per needs of modern man, thus we have Visa God in Chilkur Balaji Temple. The temple is actually one of the oldest in Telangana and dedicated to Lord Venkateshwara a form of Vishnu from the holy Trinity of Hindu Gods. The legend has is that one of the devotees who used to visit the lord every year in Tirupati could not go one year due to ill-health and was feeling miserable. The lord could not see his misery and in true devotee orientated fashion appeared in his dream and said ”I am right here in the jungle nearby. You don’t have to worry.” The devotee at once moved to the place indicated by the Lord in the dream and saw a mole- hill there, which he dug up. Accidentally, the axe struck Lord Balaji’s idol covered by the mole-hill below the chin and on the chest, and surprisingly blood started flowing profusely from the “wounds”, flooding the ground and turning it scarlet. The devotee could not believe his eyes when he saw this. Suddenly he could not believe his ears also when he heard a voice from the air which said,”Flood the mole-hill with cow’s milk. “When the devotee did so, a Swayambhu ( appeared on its own) idol of Lord Balaji accompanied by Sridevi and Bhoodevi(a rare combination) was found, and this idol was installed with the due rites and this temple built for it.When the lord was assigned the responsibility to bless the devotees with US Visa is not clear, but we found a lot of young techies in the temple offering prayers in hope of getting their H1 or B1 Visa stamped. Though I have been to US many times I still offered my prayers and requested for more visits to US as I need to write more blog posts about US also.
The temple is actually very simple and dwarfed by the garage built for the chariot of the lord used for processions during festivals. When we visited the main gopuram has received fresh paint and was shining in bright sunlight. The chamber of chariot or parking lot has been adapted by some pigeons and they were enjoying the winter sun. Those who come to pray can take a small printed paper available with the caretakers of the temple, it has numbers from 1-108 and helps you in remembering the number of circumambulation of the temple. It is believed if you complete the same with full devotion you will get the US Visa. The main idol is covered in flowers completely so pay good attention otherwise you will miss the same in the hustle bustle of pilgrims around you.
There is also a small Shiva shrine in the temple and you can visit the same also. Photography in the temple is not allowed so all the pictures that you see are of surroundings or from outside. While I was sitting in the temple veranda, I saw this lady coming and looking around before opening a chamber, I was wondering what secrets could be in the chamber, only to find hundreds of broken coconuts in the room. She did something in the room and again locked the room and ensured that the lock is secure before moving away.
I requested this old lady to pose for pictures, to the amusement of her son and daughter in law who had her faced covered as a lot of women from rural India do when in public places. There is a small bazaar kind of market around the temple, and though the usual trinkets and toys etc are available, I actually bought some fresh fruits from this lady who was selling them. Most of them collected same day in the morning and you will not find them in supermarkets normally. She was selling guavas, Amla (Phyllanthus emblica Or Indian gooseberry), mulberry, star fruit or carambola (Averrhoa carambola) and huge Grapefruits and a few whose name I cannot recollect, but you can see them in picture, please help me and you can write the name in comments section.
Not too many people know that Pundit Ravi Shankar, the famous Sitar maestro got married here in Chilkur Balaji temple with Sukanya (mother of Anushka Shankar).
How to reach Chilkur Balaji Temple: You will need to take exit 18 on the Nehru ORR, and head towards Vikarabad, you will cross the Mrigavani National Park and then there will be a major fork in the road, left goes to Vikarabad Anantha Padmanabha Swamy Temple and right goes to Chilkur. From here the road is not very wide and potholed at places so drive safely. The temple is open all 7 days from dawn to late in the evening and gets very crowed during weekends and Hindu festivals like Sakranti, etc. The temple also publishes a multilingual( Telgu, Hindi, English) magazine called VAK, that you can purchase for INR 5, to read about events and ceremonies in temple.
There is a complete chaos for parking near the Chilkur Balaji temple, but one guy agreed to take us right next to temple if we buy flowers and coconuts from him (INR 60), we agreed for the same, and parked close to the temple (INR 10). There is no ticket for the temple and there is a locker room where you can keep your camera and cell phone etc. Be careful around the temple as there are a lot of beggars and some of them were very aggressive, one lady wanted moonlight as a model and pose for INR 10! Talk about money saavy models.
Irrespective of the fact you need Visa or nor, the Chilkur Balaji temple is a nice break from the city and you will enjoy the leisurely drive to the temple and the casual atmosphere around the temple. The satisfaction you will get on praying with hundreds around you is the added bonus.
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