Difference between revisions of "Kalahasti"
Revision as of 03:59, 3 August 2007
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.
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. If well planned, Tirupati, Tirumala and Kalahasti can be covered in a day's trip from Chennai by car. 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). It is however possible to order certain items in a restaurant - like a cup of hot milk - that may not adversely affect your health. 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 or religious background, etc.
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).
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 for 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 upto 20 minutes and beyond). i.e. if your calendar shows Rahukalam as starting around 1:30 P.M. on Thursday, time your pooja to start at around 2 P.M. or later and be sure to finish by at least 3 P.M. This is a little known fact.
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(sighting)and archana(special pooja) of the main deities within the temple.(i.e. no need to stand in the queue and 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. The priest will want the names(only family members) and nakshatras for conducting the pooja. Upto 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.
Though there is a dress code for the pooja, the temple does not seem to be implementing it rigourously.
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 and the hunter, but not much else besides, unless you are an expert at pulling out the info you want from the web.
http://www.srikalahasti.org/subpage.html gives you the contact details (like telephone number) of the temple.
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.