The Visa Granting Balaji of Chilkur

J B S Umanadh

In northern state of Punjab, a gurudwara is believed to help those planning to immigrate to other countries. Once the wish is fulfilled, they offer aircraft to gurudwara. Down south, people believe that a visit to a temple is a sureshot success to get visa to go abroad. Believers throng this place—popularly known as Visa Balaji temple—at Chilkur in Ranga Reddy district of Andhra Pradesh, about 20 km from Hyderabad.

Hundreds of students planning higher studies in the USA, Canada or Australia or professionals seeking a H1 (B) visa to the USA first pray for the blessings of the Visa Balaji even before applying for their visas. They believe that Visa Balaji will see that the consular staff will stamp on their passports without any trouble. It will not end with one visit to the temple. After the wish is granted, the devotees make it a point to return to thank the deity for the favour bestowed upon them.

“My son, who recently started a business, can really be considered a potential immigrant. He is a graduate with IT specialisation with no regular income and is not even married. He was granted the visa after just two questions. Whereas people known to us and relatives abroad were not granted visa,” D Gopala Krishna Murty, a retired bank employee, said. He believes that the visit to the temple before attending the interview at the Hyderabad consulate made the difference.

A software firm in Hyderabad has another miracle story to tell. The firm, which has witnessed many rejections in the recent past, decided to apply for the H3 (training) visas. These visas are a lot more expensive. They have to be applied for in the USA. Once the request is approved, the applicants have to attend the interview at a US consulate in India and then the visa is granted.

 “Because of the work curre­ntly going on in the Mumbai consulate, we had to send our people to Hyderabad. They went there for the visa interviews. Things worked, and they got their visas. They came back to Mumbai with the story of Visa Balaji. A visa seeker, after submitting his application, has to come to this temple and perform 11 pradakshinas (circumambulations). Having done this, it is believed that the applicant is granted visa. “I am married to a software professional posted in the UK. Last time when I visited the temple, I pra­yed that I should go abroad. Because of the Chilkur Balaji I got a double whammy,” said Lohitha Reddy from Karimnagar, who was completing her 108 thanks-giving circumambulations, and she is all set to take her flight.

The Chilkur Balaji temple is an ancient Hindu temple of Balaji on the banks of OsmanSagarLake. This was built during the time of Madanna and Akkanna, the uncles of Bhakta Ramadas, who built the Bhadrachalam temple. “During the eighties, a few students who faced rejections at the Chennai consulate prayed at the temple and their wishes were fulfilled. Slowly the word spread and by the grace god of Hyderabad got its own consulate now,” says Chandrasekhar Reddy of Visu Consultants.

The temple has also earned another distinction for not accepting any money from the devotees, no hundies, no green channel or privileges for VIPs, and it fought and won the right to stay out of the purview of Endowments Department of the Andh­ra Pradesh Government. According to the legend, a devotee who used to visit Tirupati every year could not do so on one occasion owing to serious health problems.

Lord Venkateshwara appeared in his dream and said that he is in the nearby jungle. Following the lord’s direction, he stumbled upon a molehill, which he dug up. Accidentally, the axe struck Balaji’s idol below the chin and on the chest. Surprisingly blood started flowing profusely from the wounds, flooding the ground and turning it scarlet. He heard a voice saying, “Flood the molehill with cow’s milk.” When the devotee did so, a Swayambhu idol of Lord Balaji accompanied by Sridevi and Bhoodevi was found, and this idol was installed with due rituals and a temple built for it.

The routine for visa seeking devotees During a visit, the devotee goes through the usual rituals of prayer, including 11 circumambulations of the inner shrine, and makes a vow. Once the wish is fulfilled, devotees then walk 108 times around the sanctum sanctorum. The majority of wishes by devotees are visa related, thus Chilkur Balaji is also referred to as “Visa” Balaji.

According to C S Rangarajan, the chief priest of the temple, 11 circumambulations represent the secret of creation — 11 means “1 soul and 1 body” — uniting both with devotion and full determination to fulfill wish, believe in the lord; there is no second and everything is god. In the 108 circumambulations, one represents the existence, almighty and god, 0 represents creation and eight represents human body has to spend eight months in a womb before birth. The temple priests with the help of a mega phone will guide the devotees while they make rounds. They say that chanting of names of Lord Vishnu immensely helps in overcoming the obstacles in our daily life.

“Om Vashatkaaraaya Namaha” for success in business, “Om Aksharaaya Namaha” for success in studies, “Om Bhuthabhavanaya Namaha” for good health, and “Om Paramaathmane Namaha” for self- confidence. Rangarajan, giving a word advice to the visa seeking and thanks-giving students, said: “don’t forget to carry a pen and take the numeric card (given free) to mark the completed rounds. It will make your circumambulation to  thank the lord that much easier to carryout. Eat, especially before you start on the 108 pradakshinas. The Lord or his servants should not be blamed if you cannot sustain the physical exertion. Take regular breaks between the circumambulations. It’s only human if your head starts spinning after going round and round and so rest.” One more tradition followed here is that every devotee has to keep eyes open while doing darshan of the idol in the temple. As there are no special darshan tickets or break darshans, around 75,000 to 1,00,000 devotees visit the temple every week. Generally, temple witnesses heavy rush on Fridays and Sundays.

Courtesy: Nov 10, 2012, DHNS