Tirupati Tirumala Information
This the sacred abode of Lord Venkateswara or Balaji is one of the oldest and richest Hindu pilgrim centres of the country. Tirupati, literally the ‘Lord of Lakshmi’ is the town and transport hub set in the foot hills of Tirumala. The sacred Tirumala hill in the Eastern Ghats has seven peaks, representing the seven headed serpent Adisesha, on whose coil Lord Vishnu sleeps.
Sri Venkateswara temple atop the Tirumala hills is one of the biggest centres of the country. Situated at an altitude of 2800 ft. amongst 7 hills covered with abundant greenery in the Eastern Ghats. This temple is believed to be in existence for over 2000 years. The main temple facing the east is a masterpiece of Dravidian architecture and the Vimana and Dwajastamba are fully gold plated. Lakhs of devotees visit the temple throughout the year and their belief and faith in this god is stupendous. In the Garba Griha, the 7ft. idol of the Lord is made of granite stone standing majestically on a high lotus pedestal. The Crown, Shanka and Chakra studded with diamonds on both hands dazzle the eye. Many devotees tonsure their heads in devotion.
Situated on a peak of the Tirumalai Hills, overlooking Tirupati (just across the Tamil Nadu border into Andhra Pradesh), is the most active religious pilgrimage destination on earth, drawing more than 10 million devoted pilgrims every year—apparently, more than either Jerusalem or Rome. The richest in all India, and potentially the wealthiest single temple or church on earth, Dravidian-style Sri Venkateshvara Temple is said to be the heart of Hindu piety, but in many ways it appears to exist expressly for the collection of wealth connected to a legendary loan: Lord Venkateshwara, the living form of Vishnu, apparently borrowed an enormous amount of money from the God of Wealth in order to secure a dowry for his bride. Devotees donate generously in order to help their god settle his debt—the loan must be repaid in full, with interest, before the end of this epoch. Annual donations of jewelry, cash, and gold (along with sales of laddus or sweets and donated human hair) total around 1.5 billion rupees. Much of this goes to the temple kitchens that prepare meals, free accommodations for pilgrims, and various charitable hospitals and schools. The inner shrine is presided over by a diamond-ornamented 2m (6-ft.) black idol that stands at the end of a narrow passage. Pilgrims queue for hours, sometimes days, excitedly preparing for darshan—the extraordinarily brief moment when you’re all but pushed past the god by guards to ensure that the sanctum doesn’t become clogged with devotees, many of whom succumb to the moment by falling to the ground. Waiting amid the mass of anxious, highly charged pilgrims, you’ll get a good sense of the religious fervor of the Hindu faith. By the time you reach the moment of darshan, thousands of excited, expectant worshippers will be behind you, chanting Vishnu’s name. Once out of the inner shrine (one of the few in South India that non-Hindus can enter), you’ll make your way past a massive fish-tank-like enclosure, where temple clerks count the day’s takings—possibly the most cash you’re ever likely to see in one place.
Lord Venkateswara Temple
The majestic shrine of Lord Venkateswara nestling amidst the Tirumala Hill, about 700m above the town is one of the most popular Hindu temples in the world. It is visited by over 25,000 pilgrims a day and the number reaches up to 100,000 on festival days. The temple staff alone accounts to a number of about 18,000. The popularity of the temple can be judged by its annual income, which is over two billion rupees. Devotees offer money and precious articles etc in the hundi or collection box placed at various sites in the temple. The entire sum is administered by the temple trust which ploughs this bulk of money back into hundreds of choultries and charities, such as schools, colleges, art academies, craft training centres and in the home of poor and orphans. The sacred temple finds mention in the ancient religious texts and was perhaps built during the 9th century. Several additions and renovations were later made under the patronage of Pallavas, Pandyas, Cholas, the Vijayanagar rulers and the Maharaja of Mysore. This masterpiece of Dravidian architecture has a huge outer courtyard or sampangi pradakshinam, which is dotted by several interesting mandapams. The glittering gold Vimanam, known as Ananda Vimanam rises protectively over the sanctum sanctorum, which enshrines the ‘Swayambhu’ or naturally formed two metres high jet-black stone idol of Lord Venkateshwara. The magnificent idol depicts the Lord with four hands in a standing posture over a lotus and is adorned with exquisite jewellery.
‘Brahmotsavam’ (September – October) is the main temple festival celebrated in a grand way for nine days and attracts a large number of devotees. Another attraction of the shrine is the Prasad cooked in the temple kitchen. This mouth watering delicacy is of great value for the devotees. Many devotees also considered very auspicious to have their heads shaven on visiting the temple, an act symbolic of renouncing their ego.
Many pilgrims take holy dip in the sacred tank before having a darshan of the Lord.
This perennial stream flowing 3km north of the main shrine is regarded as one of the sacred Thirthams. The stream is said to be flowing from the feet of Lord Vishnu and its sacred water is used for the daily rituals in the temple.
This arch like natural rock formation just 1km north of Venkateswara temple is only one of its kind in Asia and a must visit site.
Sri Govindrajaswamy Temple, Tirupati
It is the largest shrine of Tirupati town and is dedicated to Krishna and Vishnu. The temple was consecrated in 1130, by saint Ramanujacharya. The present structure was built by the Nayaks.
Goddess Alamelumanga (Padmavati) temple
The shrine dedicated to Padmavati, the consort of Lord Venkateswara lies at Tiruchanur, 4km from Tirupati.
Tirupati Tirumala Tour
Sri Venkateswara Wildlife Sanctuary (10km)
It is spread over an area of 505.94 km in Chittoor and Cuddapah district with rich variety of plant and animal species. The sanctuary is inhabited by very rare slender loris, endangered golden gecko, Indian giant squirrel, tree shrew and flying lizard. It is also home to panther, sloth bear, sambar, wild boar, hyena, civet cat etc.
Sri Kalahasti (38km)
This important Hindu pilgrim centre is located between two steep hills on the banks of Swarnamukhi River. The Sri Kalahsthisvara temple here id dedicated to Lord Shiva in the form of Vayulinga. According to a legend, a spider (Sri) spun a web over the liga, a snake (Kala) placed a gem atop it and an elephant (Hasti), brought the water to wash the linga. All three were ardent devotees of Shiva and the shrine is named after them. The flame of the temple deepam (lamp) flickers regularly as air (Vayu) is said to be constantly emanating from the Shivalinga.
Tirupati Distance Guide
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