Last couple of days, we have visited the Holy place Tirumala and Tirupathi and had some great experience (minus a little not so good experience); here is summary of our trip.
Firstly Online booking portal has been greatly improved. When I have tried about 3 years ago, interface and booking procedure was difficult including requirement of a photograph with specific size. Now the interface is rather easy (though not really accessible) and booking online services has been a simple task. We have booked for Special Entry Darshan and 1 room at Tirupathi.
When we have reached Tirupathi, we have checked-in at Poojith Residency as our TTD accommodation has been booked for next day. Poojith charged us INR 1800 but the quality of service is rather poor. When we have noticed new lighting and fall ceiling, we thought they have upgraded the hotel too; but that was not the case. We do not recommend this hotel anymore.
Next day morning, we have reached Tirumala and offered our hair. It’s tradition in most families in South India that offering birth hair at Tirumala is auspicious. So we have offered hair of our son Sai Shikhar too.
After that we have proceeded towards having Darshan using special entry lane which we have booked for INR 300. We were able to have Darshan in about 2 hours. I see no reason why they would need to do security check twice in same line. That could save some time.
When we have returned to Tirupathi, we have vacated Poojith and moved to Madhavam Guest House of Tirumala Tirupathi Devasthanam. The accommodation is just awesome and worth the money. It costed us only INR 800. Air conditioned, Very specious; have both western and Indian toilets, change room, a huge balcony. Very well maintained. We have decided to try out free meal provided by the TTD and to our surprise, the food is hot and tasty too. I highly recommend booking online and staying at TTD guest houses would add a lot of satisfaction.
Only thing that TTD should improve is to educate the security personnel who are employed to manage crowd, they were pushing almost everyone including those having small kids.
Overall, it was a great trip.