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Kalahasti

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Kalahasti is located near the pilgrimage town of Tirupati and is visited by thousands of pilgrims. This temple is also associated with Rahu and Ketu, (of the nine grahams or celestial bodies in the Indian astrological scheme, also known as the moon's nodes in astronomical terms).

The ancient temple dedicated to Shiva is one of the Pancha Bhoota Stalams (temples celebrating Shiva as the embodiment of the primary elements), air being the element in case here, the other four temples being Tiruvannamalai (Fire), Chidambaram (Space), Tiruvanaikkaval (Water) and Kanchipuram (Earth) respectively.

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Tirupati (30km) is the nearest airport and is perhaps the most convenient base for visiting Kalahasti as it (Tirupati) is endowed with several modern lodging facilities. A one day trip from Chennai is also possible, as Kalahasti is well connected by road with Tirupati and with Chennai and is only a four to five hour drive from Chennai (In fact, Kalahasti is closer to Chennai than Pondicherry is, though your driver may have to take deviations if the highway has still not been repaired yet). If well planned, Tirupati, Tirumala and Kalahasti can be covered in a day's trip from Chennai by car. [ Be careful about Tirumala because sometimes people may have to wait in queue for one day, due to the flocking of people for the darshan of deity especially on weekends!]

If you are particular about your health, then you may have to pack a picnic hamper (unless you are able to locate a health food restaurant in Tirupati/Kalahasti town). Or you can stock up on organic food from Chennai. The Internet will give you a list of such places in Chennai where you can pick up a week's supply of organic fruit, etc.

If you are at the Chennai Central Railway Station looking for an organic food outlet, here is an easy way for you to cut through the city traffic in a cost effective manner as well as save a lot of time and energy :

Exit the Central station. Do not cross over to the station across the road, for this takes you to the airport. Instead, go over to the other station a little distance away and buy a return ticket to Kasturba Nagar. (If the airport is your final destination, take a bus from Kasturba Nagar which will drop you off at the Guindy Railway station in 5 minutes. Most locals prefer to use the well maintained luxury buses nowadays, which will get you to the airport from Kasturba Nagar in around half-an-hour. However, if you have to catch a flight in a hurry and are worried about traffic jams, it will be better to take the train from Guindy instead.)

[1] shows you a map to South Chennai's most famous organic food outlet from the Kasturba Nagar MRTS. As you can see, the train stop at Kasturba Nagar is quite close to this organic food outlet. The whole exercise shouldn't take you more than a couple of hours and you should be back at Chennai Central Railway Station with a bag full of organic food and hardly any sweat. But do carry a powerful torch with you. These stations may be pitch dark after sunset !

Kalahasti town is otherwise modern and well-equipped with all facilities for the intrepid tourist/pilgrim !!!

The temple itself is a magnificent and large complex though not large enough to get lost in ! There are no meal breaks and the temple is kept open continuously throughout the day. The temple is also open to all - regardless of nationality, religious background, etc.

After climbing up an interminable staircase near the car park we were told that another entrance @ gate level could have been used !! So look out for this entrance especially if there are aged/ handicapped persons in your tour group. Since this entrance is some distance away from the car park, use your mobile phone (outside the temple please !) to summon the driver for your return journey.

This temple is famous for the Rahu Ketu Sarpa Dosha Nivarana pooja. Though there are other minor poojas also, the Sarpa Dosha Nivarana pooja is classified as a combination of all the other poojas(rituals). So there is no need to buy separate tickets for each pooja if you are buying the Nivarana pooja ticket.

Astrology regards Rahu and Ketu as the only two "planets" which has varying degrees of malefic ( some benefic effect is also present) effects on ALL human beings. Which means that the Nivarana pooja at Kalahasti (for removing the bad effects of Rahu and Ketu) is good for ALL human beings. (See Systems Approach websites for details about astrology. These web-sites enjoy worldwide popularity due to their rigourous analytical approach to the subject of astrology).

If you are unable to visit Kalahasti (as well as shrines dedicated to other planets), you may visit [2] for remedies to propitiate the planets in your home. (This site contains a list of simple, but powerful, remedies for propitiating each planet - like feeding the birds, etc.) But before you visit the above site, please calculate your ascendant @ [3]. From the birth time field onwards, use the Tab key and Enter/ Return key, since the mouse doesn't seem to work here.) Remember, the above site is based on ascendant signs (which are more powerful) and thus you may be surprised to see your ascendant is totally different from your Sun sign.

The Rs.1000/- ticket is highly recommended, since they give you "5 star" service (like holding the pooja right within the temple). It takes around 25 minutes to perform the pooja.

No advance booking by telephone or money order is allowed. You can book the pooja only if you are physically present at the temple. And your pooja ticket must be used up on that day itself. If you are particular that the pooja be conducted during Rahukalam (for maximum effect) be at the temple at least an hour or two before the start of Rahukalam and buy your ticket from the appropriate counter located within the temple walls.

Tip (Source - Viveka Subha Yogam - a popular South Indian astrological almanac) : True Rahukalam starts some time after the official listing ( varying from 1 or 2 minutes to even up to 20 minutes and beyond). i.e. if your calendar shows Rahukalam as starting at around 1:30 P.M. on Thursday, time your pooja to start at around 2 P.M. or later so that you finish by at least 3 P.M. This is a little known fact. (No big deal though, it only depends on local sunrise/ sunset timings.[4] to calculate "true" Rahu Kalam @ Kalahasti. Don't be surprised if the length of Rahu Kalam also varies. This is because sunrise and sunset are not always 12 hours apart.).

Needless to add, all matters of faith are exhaustively disputed, so you may expect opposition about such things as the exact timing of Rahukulam. The book "Autobiography of a Yogi" can be referred to if you need more clarifications on "matters of faith". This book is a worldwide bestseller and is easily available. This book also has an enlightening chapter on astrology.

A good astrologer may guide you to select the appropriate day and time to visit the temple. Hopefully he may select a week day when no festival is being conducted (as the crowd may be unmanageable at other times). Also check and see if any visit by high profile VIPs are scheduled. Temple entry may be temporarily barred during such visits for security reasons.

CAUTION : Do not purchase pooja materials from the stalls outside the temple. Along with the Rs.1000/- ticket, you are also given all the materials that are needed for the pooja. This ticket also entitles you to an exclusive darshan(glimpse)and archana(special pooja) of the main deities within the temple.(i.e. There is no need to stand in the queue since you are taken right into the inner sanctum of the main deities within the temple).

Keep this ticket carefully and don't lose track of it. Also keep track of the materials given to you for the pooja. And don't hesitate to ask for clarifications when in doubt.

Though it may not be possible to answer philosophical queries, doubts about the conduct of the pooja as well as how to use the materials provided will be immediately answered.

The pooja itself is not a fire ceremony. You are only expected to carefully drop first some flowers(little by little) and then coloured ash on the metal representations of Rahu and Ketu while the priest chants the mantras. (After the pooja, these metal representations MUST be deposited in a special box @ the temple AFTER you give them to another priest in the main sanctum and get them back in a few minutes). The priest (conducting the Nivarana pooja) will want the names(only family members) and nakshatras for conducting the pooja (See [5] to calculate your nakshatra). Up To five members of a family(for Rs.1000/- ticket) are allowed to be physically present at the pooja though you are allowed to give a long list of other family members who are not present.

Tipping is inevitable and you may fix a fair amount at your discretion. Reserve your main tip for the priest condcuting the Nivarana pooja. (He will ask you for "dakshina").

Though there is a dress code for the pooja, the temple does not seem to be implementing it rigorously.

While searching for info about Kalahasti on the Internet, remember to vary the spelling : Srikalahasti (the official name), Kalahasthi, etc.

Most web-sites give you the basic story about the three animals, the mysterious flickering lamp and the hunter, but not much else besides, unless you are an expert at pulling out the info you want from the web.

[6] gives you the contact details (like telephone number) of the temple.

Also see Sri_Kaalahasti

Needless to add, watch your step in the temple. Slippery floors, dark corners, clothes catching fire, etc. are a common reality in Indian temples. Touts may take you for a ride, so it is better to deal only with authorised temple officials.

Get around[edit]

so if you want to go to airport from central railway station, faster way is to come out of the station, take underground walkway and go towrads park station( other side is govenment hospital) Buy a ticket at the counter for trisoolam station( there is no station named airport. there is a station named meenambakkam, the location of airport. but the rail station of meenambakkam is far from airport. ) from trisoolam its a walk about 10 or 15 minutes and you have to cut across main traffic road(signal available) or use subway to easily cross the road. Subway srarts within the trisoolam station Itself.

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Contact[edit]

Temple Address: Sri Kalahastiswaraswamy vari Devastanam SriKalaHasti Chittoor District. Andhra Pradhesh PIN: 517644

Telephone: 08578-221655, 222787

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