The Marasa Sarovar Premiere Tirupati , Andhra Pradesh, India

A Stay At The Marasa Sarovar Premiere Tirupati Can Redefine The Way Pilgrims Travel

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Talk sacred and all that spins in the head are idols and priests. And all one looks for is a clean bed and simple food. But this five-star hotel changed my perception of the way pilgrims travel nowadays. With clean lines and open spaces, I got a room that had all the amenities that one could need and an excellent view of the sacred Tirumala hills. A welcome tray with cookies and fruits was the added pleasure.

The hotel has been inspired by the 10 avatars of Vishnu. With 121 rooms, it has an open courtyard with a water body. A walk around the hotel revealed the colours and emotions that each avatar evoked. No two guesses as to what Matsya was—the swimming pool. Varaha, the competitive one, turned out to be the games room. Narasimha embodied by transition, was the all-day dining of The Lotus Café. Here, breakfast and dinner is a buffet; lunch is a la carte. Vamana, the intellectual dwarf, was represented in the business centre. Of course, Parasurama, the saint with the axe, had to be the gym. Rama, the social leader, was the banquet hall where a conference for 300 people can be held easily. At the restaurant Krishna, a vegetarian thali ruled. And for rejuvenation, it was Buddha, the spa. It’s best to book an appointment. I had the signature massage and it worked wonders for me. The food is a good variety, with a mix of the continental and traditional. Room service was good, I enjoyed the juice and coffee. There’s also a bar at the hotel if you want to enjoy a drink.

While most would like to see the traditional temple, it’s best to do booking for the darshan online. But Tirumala has some exotic temples in the neighbourhood too. Srilakshmi, who takes care of the marketing in the hotel, took me to an ancient Shiva temple in a neighbouring village. This had the trinity in the linga. Then, we went to Tirumala and visited the Padmavati temple, Kapileshwara temple and went to see the spot on top of a hill where the feet of Lord Venkateswara lay. The hills are quite exotic with lots of greenery, places to stay and sacred spots. There’s also a deer park here and you can feed them cucumber and other veggies. What did take me by surprise though was the fine dining restaurant in the vicinity. There are buses plying for the pilgrims in the hills. And the area is so clean that it could teach the rest of the country some much-needed lessons. If you thought this was one of those dirty sacred places with priests badgering you and beggars crossing your path, think again, for it changed the term ‘pilgrimage in India’ for me. The best part: The hotel is a bare 20-minute drive from the international airport.

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