Many pilgrims prefer to go by foot from Tirupati to Tirumala to seek the Darshan and blessings of the Lord. It is also a part of Sankalpam (commitment).
For those who would like to climb the hills to Tirumala to fulfil a vow, there are two well-laid stone footpaths leading to Tirumala. These paths are called Sopanamargas. The more ancient of the two Sopanamargas which start from Alipiri at the foot of the hills, is about 11 km in length, and is the commonly-used route. The other Sopanamarga from Chandragiri, though only about 6 km in length, is a more difficult route. It is mainly used by the local people and traders.
Following facilities are provided to the piligrims who walk up the hills to Tirumala, by the administration:
· Free transport of the pilgrims’ luggage from the base of the hill to the Top
· Well cemented steps with hand rails for support
· Supply of potable water along the way
· Toilets for both ladies and gents
· Well lit path way and security guards to ensure safety of the pilgrims
· Small restaurants along the way for refreshments and snacks
The pilgrims have to get to Alipiri toll gate where the steps to the Tirumala begin. This is 4 km away from the railway station. Pilgrims can deposit their luggage at the T.T.D transport office and obtain a receipt for the same. On reaching the top, they can redeem their luggage after producing this receipt. The foot way is 16 km in distance. It takes roughly between 3 to 4 hours to reach Tirumala by foot.
The natural beauty along the way is breathtaking. Though the steps at the start are a bit steep, the rest of the way is quite even and one wouldn't need to strain much. All along the way one can see pilgrims of every age climbing the steps with equal gusto. There are small mandapams along the way where pilgrims can take rest. Though the journey is physically tiring, it is a spiritually satisfying as well.
Andhra Pradesh State Road Transport Corporation (APSRTC) runs two free buses from the Tirupati Railway station to Alipiri, with a frequency of 30 minutes. Pilgrims who intend to walk up the hills to Tirumala can use these buses.