Saturday 19 January 2013

The God who grants Visas

He is one of the Dashavatars of Hindu religion and he is also among the oldest of  the Gods worshipped in India. On the other hand, this is piece of paper that has much value in modern world. Without the paper, which has legal sanction, you cannot  go to any other country. This is the piece of paper that would enable you to enter and exit a country you are visiting.
Yet, this God and the piece of paper have a close connection, s much so that the temple of the gods is better known by the piece of paper.
This paper which enables you to visit a country is called a Visa. Though a Visa is the sole prerogative of the country, people here come to the Balaji Temple for getting a visa expeditiously. Hence, the temple is better known as the Visa Balaji Temple and it is located in Hyderabad.
Balaji is one of the many popular names of Srinivasa or Vankataramana, one of the ten avatars of Vishnu. The Balaji in this temple located on the banks of the Osmansagar lake in Hyderabad has attained worldwide fame as a quick “granter of Visas”.
Its real name is Chilkur Balaji Temple but the last few decades have seen it being renamed as Visa Balaji.
The temple is 17 kms from Mehedipatnam and it is among the oldest temples of the walled city of Hyderabad. The locals associate the temple with Madanna and Akkanna, uncles of saint Bhakt Ramdas.
A person wanting to obtain a Visa must go through certain set rituals. The devotee has to  circumambulate the deity eleven times and then make a vow. Once the wish is fulfilled, the devotees is expected to walk around the sanctum sanctorum 108 times.
Millions of devotees throng the temple and a majority of them are related to Visas.
By the way, this is the only temple apart from the Ramanuj Kot temple in Jodhour, Rajasthan, which  does not accept any money. Nor does  it have a hundi so that devotees can place their offerings. All devotees, including VIPs, have to stand in a queue. The temple is not under Government control.
The priest of the temple told me that 75,000 devotees to one lakh visit the temple  in a week. There is very heavy rush of people on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.
Bus service is available to Chilkur Balaji Temple from Mehdipatnam, Hyderabad.

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