Saturday, December 25, 2010

Prasanthi Nilayam - Heaven on Earth...Part 1

Sri Sathya Sai Baba needs no introduction to his devotees and non devotees alike. But a few non devotees may be keen to know more about Him and the place where his ashram is Viz. Puttaparthi aka Prasanthi Nilayam. There is an enormous amount of information on the internet about Sri Sathya Sai Baba and the service projects of Sri Sathya Sai Trust. However the following extract from the official website of Sri Sathya Sai trust  characterizes beautifully in a nutshell who He is and what He stands for :

"His numerous service projects, be it free hospitals, free schools and colleges, free drinking water supply or free housing projects, all stand testimony to His selfless love and compassion for the needy and less privileged. True to His declaration - “My Life is My Message”, He has inspired and continues to inspire millions of His devotees worldwide by His personal example to live the ideal that service to man is service to God. The Sri Sathya Sai Organization today has a presence in over 167 countries in the world and members undertake group service activities that benefit their immediate community"

Visit the the official website of the Sri Sathya Sai Central Trust for more details.

The purpose of this post is to give a glimpse of Puttaparthi. I was fortunate to have been in this great place during Nov 19-24 this year (2010), to witness the celebrations of 85th Birthday of Sri Sathya Sai Baba. I had captured the carnivel like atmosphere and the happenings thru my camera for relaying it to my friends and fellow devotees back home..One of my friends who keenly follows my travel posts had a look at these pictures/videos and suggested  that I should blog post it..He said that he enjoyed viewing them all and opined will be of interest to all to see more of this place. Hence it is here..!

Hope you find them interesting..and as with any blogger, it would gladden me to know if it is interesting to you ...So take a second to comment and let me know what you think... !

As usual, almost all details about Puttaparthi can be found in wikipedia. ( a competitor for us ..bloggers..this wikipedia (lol.!)..A complementor truly, I love wikipedia...!). I've just given a few details below based on my knowledge that could be useful for new  visitors from South India.

Puttaparthi can be easily reached from Bangalore (about 160kms). Numerous buses ply from Bangalore.
There are two APSRTC buses direct to Puttaparthi from Chennai first one starting at 8pm and another at 8:30pm from Koyambedu bus stand. I do not think there is an online booking for this. ( I need to check it out).There is a week-end special train from Chennai that departs at about 10:30pm on every Fri and reaches Puttaparthi the next day at 10:30am. On week days there are a number of trains to Bangalore from Chennai. There is a daily train (Guntur Passenger) from Yeswantpur @8:30am to Guntur that goes via Sai Prasanthi Nilayam Station (Puttaparthi). Yeswantpur junction is at about 8km from Bangalore. Local trains and autos are available.
The ashram is just opposit to the bus stand but is at about 8kms from the railway station and autos,share autos,buses are availble from the railway station. 
There are a number of lodges,hotels available in Puttaparthi and numerous houses and flats have been covereted to lodges where one gets a room for Rs 150 a day. But generally the hotels are expensive during festivities. Festivals of all relegions are important here.. and so is crowded during all festivals.
Guru poornima is an auspecious day here and attracts large number of devotees from all over the world.
Of course Nov 23, the birth day of Sri Sathya Sai baba attracts lakhs of deveotees from all over the globe... Celebrations of which I was fortunate enough to witness this year (2010).
Many devotees who regularly visit, own an accommodation (flat) in Puttaparthi that they use when visiting this great place.
I used to stay in Sai Brindavan Hotel which is a kind of  mid of the way budget hotel ,a double room (a/c) costs about Rs 1200/- a day and Non A/C Rs 800/-.I like the spacious rooms here..You need to inspect and choose one..!.I was lucky to get hold of a house of one of my relatives during this visit without which I doubt if I would have ventured into this trip during the Birth day..
Food is available inside ashram at subsidised rates.. There is a south indian canteen, a North Indian canteen and one for Westerners..apart from a few Coffee Kiosks..and snack counters.. all operated by the trust.

Google will throw up a number of  links to get all sorts of details of this great place.

These are captures (Photos and Videos) of this place are during the festivities of the 85th Birth day celebrations.I have listed them in a logical order of the happenings to give a sense of cogency and a feeling of taking a virtual tour..!
I know, as usual, there are lot of Pictures and videos in my post and require lot of time to go through.But, you will find them useful if and when you decide to visit this great place..! With this background I will leave it to the pictures and Videos to do the talking..!

A word of caution with respect to the number of photographs. I actually uploaded all photos every night from Puttaparthi during my stay to share them with others as soon as possible. So I had little time editing-selecting which to post..etc.. So there may be some duplicates that I would not have removed ...I tried deleting some from the web albums later, but realized it is not only  not worth doing it..but also each photo was subtly different in some sense..So left them as it is...But some of the albums may contain a huge number of photos..Bear with me...!

Before starting with my main picture story I want to post the picture of  Sai Kulwant hall where Sri Sathya Sai Baba gives Darshan to thousands of devotees every day...Sitting there, I used to wonder, is this how Indra Sabha will look like ? This truley magnificent hall always inspires me..and whoever has sat in it will endorse my view..!

(Photos courtesy :

I can understand your curiosity and will be too happy to take you along with me.
Please join me in this Virtual tour...!

Let us start from Sri Sai Prasathi Nilayam Railway Station (Part 2)

Next we head towards the happening place ..The Prasanthi Nilayam Ashram (Part 3) , after which to another interesting spot, a tree- Karpaga Vritcham (Part 4) on a small hillock from where we are also going to take an areal view of all the interesting spots of Puttaparthi from above the hillock.

Next we move on to the unique and beautiful Chaitanya Jothi museum (Part 5) to get to know more about our cultural heritage after which we go around this beautiful village Puttaparthi (Part 6).

Having covered almost all interesting spots in Puttaparthi, it is time to soak into the festivities of the celebrations. The stage is set for some color full cultural Dance and Music (Part 7).

Don't we now wonder, We have heard so much talk about the service activities of this great organization Sri Sathya Sai Seva Trust. Can we get some details now.. Yes.. Let's head towards the Exhibition (Part 8).

It is time for the climax...the Birthday celebrations on 23rd Nov at the Hill view stadium (Part 9).

Pack your bags ...!
Travel from Virtuality to Reality...from Intense activity to the Immense Serenity & Prasanthi...!