Chilkur Balaji, literally meaning the small Balaji is the most famous temple in and around Hyderabad. It is a famous wish-fulfilling temple. The deity here has the reputation of being a Visa God i.e. a God that specializes in fulfilling the wish of stamped Visa on your passport.
Curiosity took me to this temple one fine morning. I planned to go on a weekend but the regular visitors said the crowds swell on weekends. So we planned to go on a Monday and yes, the crowd was there but not too much. The road to this temple passes by the entrance of Mrugvani national park and through farms and farmhouses. It is located close to Osman Sagar Lake. Visiting this temple is a happy respite after crossing the city traffic.
Chilkur Balaji Temple, Hyderabad
Chilkur Balaji is one of the oldest in Hyderabad. It was built in 17th CE during the time of Akkanna and Madanna, the uncles of Bhakta Ramdas, a Carnatic music composer, and an ardent devotee of Lord Ram.
The temple has a thriving market on the street leading to it. This is the only place in Hyderabad where I saw small artifacts in white and green marble being sold along with the regular merchandise that you find outside temples.
A curious thing you find being sold here is a card with numbers 1 to 108 marked on it along with a basic pen. I wondered what this card is used for and, to be honest, my first thoughts went to Tambola cards. And my brain went overboard trying to connect the game with the temple. I was then explained that you are supposed to do 108 parikramas or round around the temple once your wish is fulfilled. Since you tend to lose count, these cards help you to remember. Inside the temple, we were to discover these used colorful cards everywhere.
Even when you are aware that it is a very small temple, it seems even smaller than you would imagine. A small colorful Gopuram shines through the plain white walls of the temple along with the golden flagstaff. There were barriers all around to put the people in the queue. Since it was not too crowded on that day, we went straight to the Chilkur Balaji Temple premises where devotees were chanting and taking rounds of the temple.
11 rounds to seek a wish
My companions joined in for 11 rounds that are supposed to be done when asking for a wish. I too joined in and the only board that I could read on the premises said ‘Concentrate on God, not on the number’. People chanted Govinda, Govinda while a person on the mike chanted another Vishnu mantra. Young boys were roaming around selling water bottles.
After 11 rounds, we entered the temple and the board there said ‘Do not close your eyes during Darshan’. The main doorjamb was in silver with Vaishnavi Devi carved at the top. Inside there was another arch carved in Rajasthani style. Idol, as usual, is covered in so many layers that you only see the covering and imagine the rest. There is no Hundi or a donation box in the temple and technically no donations are accepted.
A story of the Chilkur Balaji Temple
From here we went to the back of the temple to meet the head priest Sh. Chilkur Madabhushi Gopalakrishnan. His family has been taking care of the temple for more than 400 years out of its existence of 500 years or so. He narrated the stories and legends associated with it to us.
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The old legends tell us about how this temple was built. A devotee used to visit the Tirupati Balaji temple every year. One year he could not visit due to ill health. Balaji appeared in his dream and told him not to worry. He said he is in a jungle near him and gave him the directions. The man reached the spot to find a molehill there. He discovered a Murti of Balaji along with Sridevi and Bhudevi. In due course, a temple was built for the Murtis and came to be known as Chilkur, or a small Balaji temple. For those who can not visit the big temple, this is a closer temple to visit.
The Temple website tells me another legend
An idol of Ammavaru was installed in 1963 the year following the Chinese aggression, and when the aggression was unilaterally vacated, Ammavaru was given the name of Rajya Lakshmi, signifying this welcome event. The unique feature of this idol is that lotus flowers are held in three hands and the fourth hand is in such a position towards the lotus feet which signifies the doctrine of Saranagathi.
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What the priest told us were the legends that formed in his life like the legend of asking for a Visa and getting it. He narrated the beginnings of these beliefs in the 1980s. He said he was circling the temple when a well was being dug. As soon as he finished 11 rounds, the water came out of the well. In gratitude, he did 108 circumambulations of the temple. This became a tradition. Do 11 Parikramas and ask for a wish. Once the wish is fulfilled, come back and do the 108 parikramas.
Given that in the 1980s and 1990s youngsters wished for a Visa to go abroad, Chilkur Balaji got a new name – Visa God. Now, I understood, why so many people were holding those numbered cards, chanting, and going around the temple.
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Finally, Gopalakrishnan Ji smiled and said – This is a temple of young people.
In most temples, parents bring their children, but in this temple, children bring their parents. The common wishes that get fulfilled here are getting through entrance exams, getting married to the person of your choice, getting a job and of course, getting a visa – most of the needs of young people.
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I do not know how many wishes come true but what I saw on the faces of those doing Parikrama were pure devotion and sheer faith. If faith can move mountains, maybe this is one of its ways to do so.
Travel Tips for Chilkur Balaji Temple
Temple is about 33 km from Hyderabad city, located close to Osman Sagar Lake.
APTDC has a Haritha hotel within 100 meters of the temple that is a good option to eat and stay close to the temple. On the weekend, as many as 100,000 people visit the temple.
Temple gets the maximum rush on Fridays and Saturdays, so plan your trip accordingly.
Temple is open from 5 AM – 8 PM.
Photography is not allowed inside the temple.
For more details, check out the temple website.