08 May - 11 May 2011 Tirupati

South Asia
Republic of Incredible India, the world's biggest democrazy
Andhra Pradesh
Arjun Residency +918772242261
Spacious single room for only INR 300.- or US$ 6.70 per night.
Beer650-ml bottles of ice-cold but rather yeasty tasting Kingfisher Premium Lager (c. 5 % alc./vol.) or Kingfisher Strong (c. 8 % alc./vol.) for INR 100.- or US$ 2.20 per large bottle in any of the rugged the wine shops with attached a/c bar at every turn between the central bus stand and the Sri Govindarajaswamy Temple.

Click below for an interactive road map of the Arjun Residency in Tirupati and for directions:

Matt: Taking city bus no. 5,400 from Tirupati's central bus Stand to Tirumala Hill (33 km, 45 min, INR 56.- return) and exploring one of India’s greatest Hindu phenomena, the impossibly crowded, incredibly commercialised but still fascinating pilgrimage sites around the Sri Venkateshvara Temple (visited by about 50,000 to 100,000 pilgrims on an average day, while on special occasions and festivals, like the annual Brahmotsavam, the number of pilgrims shoots up to 500,000 per day), which is said to be the richest and most popular pilgrimage place in the world since it attracts more pilgrims and makes more money than either Mecca or Rome: Sri Venkateshvara Temple is organised like a holding company with a shadowy foundation which manages its annual revenues of roughly US$ 400 million; all set in a stunning location, surrounded by wooded hills capped by a ring of vertical red rocks.

Matt: Watching the long rows of c. 500 barbers who work without a break at the Sri Venkateshvara Temple, shave the heads of about half of the daily pilgrims and help the temple to export the hair for c. INR 200 crore or US$ 40 million per annum mainly to China where it is woven into wigs and used for extracting keratin for cosmetic products.

"God has no religion."

Matt: Taking an A.P.S.R.T.C. (Andhra Pradesh State Road Transport Corporation) government bus from Tirupati through Andrha Pradesh’s semi-arid southwest to the city of Anantapur (c. 300 km, 8 hours, INR 159.- or US$ 3.60 per person) and having uneventful encounters with flocks of Indian sheep and Indian communists.

Click below for a summary of this year's travels
2011 Map Konni & Matt

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