The train Journey to Tirupati
I (along with my Dad) boarded the Tirupati Express at 7.40 am on a sleepy Monday. The fastest train from Bangalore to Tirupati was slower than any Rajdhani or Shatabdi I’d ever been on. The only advantage was: it didn’t stop at as many stations as the rest of the trains. Also, if you have kids or you’re a fussy eater (like me), it’s best you pack something from a nearby stall. There is no food on the train; albeit some vendors did hop on for sugary coffee, lemon rice and idli. When I asked them for a spoon, you should have seen the guys’ face.
We reached Tirupati at 1.15 pm on a sunny afternoon and made our way towards the exit. The autos were lined up outside the station, willing to take you straight to any of the holy spots of your choice. We chose to cross the road and head to our hotel, Fortune Kences Hotel.
Proximity: The hotel is literally 1-1.5 kilometers away from the hotel and I’m pretty sure my Dad was willing to walk if it hadn’t been for the heat. Yup, I was so busy trying to escape Delhi’s mood swings, I didn’t realise I was visiting South India in peak summers. A 5 minute ride later (no exaggerations), we were at the reception of Fortune Kences. Checking in didn’t take long…but the employees could have been a bit more professional at it.
Room: The room was spacious and clean. It had all the basic amenities: separate beds, study table, coffee table with a kettle, a cupboard and a safe. The bathroom was clean; had a good speed shower and instant hot water. The toiletries were too small in my opinion, and the brand was Biotique. If you have major skin issues or if you breakout too easily, carry your own body wash and towels.
Food and Restaurants: So we had lunch and breakfast at Greens, their vegetarian restaurant. The lunch was a buffet which was a broken down south indian thali: they had about 8-12 different options including staples like rice, rotis, sambhar, rasam, veggies and yoghurt. The breakfast too had rice (it’s like the French eating cakes all over again) but I stuck to some idli/vada sambar and some English Breakfast Tea. Surprisingly, their order-in menu was, well, more broad minded and forgiving. They had every booze, non-vegetarians appetisers and mains. This must be a relief for those coming around from all parts of the world or staying for longer than a night.
Distance/Amenities: The cab rental services in the hotel were much higher but since my Dad was with me, we got a better deal just outside the hotel to go to Kalahasti temple (and back). Try to haggle with the cabbies and auto drivers since they don’t really have a meter installed and will try to rip you off.
How much did the room cost? I think it was Rs 2,700 + taxes
And the food? Each meal costs between Rs 250-300 +taxes
Local autos start from Rs 40 and go upto Rs 1,000-1,500 bucks depending on which hill you need to go to.
How to get to Tirupati: Trains, Airplanes and Roads.
Trains and Roads suit only those from Hyderabad, Chennai, Bangalore and other nearby places.
Highlights of the room: You can ask for standard/single/ or bigger rooms depending on the number of people you’re travelling with.
For bookings, head to Fortune Kences Tirupati’s website or check more reviews on Tripadvisor and Bookings.com.