It is not very easy to have darshan of Lord Sri Venkateshwara Swamy unless you have bought some special ‘Seva’ ticket. These ‘Seva’ tickets are sold in limited quantity and will have to be booked in advance. With such tickets you will have to report at the specified time at the main entrance of ‘Vaikuntam queue complex’. This complex has a number of compartments between two gangways. Each compartment has gallery type seating to accommodate about 300 persons. The compartments have TVs for entertainment and vendors selling snacks and soft drinks. Devotees are made to wait in these compartments. Depending on the type of darshan or ‘Seva’ devotees are let into the main gangway to queue up for the darshan of the Lord.
The free darshan called ‘Sarvadarshanam’ might take 4 to 12 hours of waiting in the queue complex and after such long wait they can be in the main temple for few seconds and a fraction of a second in front of the main deity. The other ‘non-Seva’ darshans are ‘Sudershanam token system’ darshan at Rs. 50/-, which has a specific reporting time so that the waiting time is slightly lowered. And ‘Seeghra darshanam’ at Rs. 300/- which is little faster. All these special darshan devotees and ‘Seva’ darshan devotees are combined in the common queue of ‘Sarvadarshanam’ devotees at different points closer to the Temple depending on the value of their ticket.
In any case except for a very few ‘Sevas’ all devotees get to spend only a few seconds in the Sanctum sanctorum and less than a second in front of Lord Sri Venkteshwara Swamy. But the entire experience is a very fulfilling one. Whenever possible we try to have more than one darshan during our trips to Tirupati.
The daily ‘Sevas’ are Suprabatham, Thomala Seva, Archana, Kalyanotsavam, Arjita Brahmotsavam, Dolotsavam or Unjal Seva, Vasanthotsavam and Sahasra Deepalankarana Seva. Apart from this there are other special weekly ‘Sevas’. One very important weekly (Friday) ‘Seva’ which our entire family got to witness few years back is ‘Poorabhishekam’ when we got to sit in the Sanctum sanctorum in front of the deity for close to one hour and participate in the ‘Abhishekam’ ritual. It is the most satisfying darshan of Sri Venakteshwars Swamy. Nowadays these tickets are booked well in advance and I understand that they are not available for the next 6 years.
It is said that Lord Sri Venkateshwara Swamy enjoys ‘Utsavams’ (festivals) and it is for this reason that every moment in the Temple and Tirumala town is celebrated as a festive occasion. Brahmotsavam is a major annual celebration of nine days when on each day there are different grand rituals conducted and procession of the Utsava Vigrahas carried out in grandeur.