Abode of Lord Venkateswara
The temple of Lord Venkateswara, Lord of the Seven Hills, in Tirumala, commonly called Tirupati, is the richest and most revered temple in India.
It is located amidst picturesque surroundings - 860 metres above sea level on a hill named Venkatadri - the last of the seven hills - one has to cross to reach the temple from the small town of Tirupati.
Please remember that Tirupati is a small town from where the climb to the temple begins. The Tirupati temple is not in Tirupati, but in Tirumala.
The temple is believed to have existed from ancient times. There are references to it in the Rigveda.
According to Hindu mythology, after the great Deluge, Lord Vishnu, rescued the earth in the form of a White Boar, Sweta Varaha, and stayed back on the earth for some time to protect the good and destroy the evil. He stayed on the bank of the Varaha Tirutham at the northern portion of Pushkarini at Tirumala.
The Adj Varahaswami temple on the north western bank of the Pushkarini at Tirumala is believed to mark that place. This temple is older than the temple of Lord Venkateswara.
According to the Puranas, the seven hills of Tirumala represent the seven heads of the serpent Adisesha, on which Lord Vishnu rests.
Tirupati temple was patronised by successive kings - the Pallavas of Kancheepuram (9th century AD); the Cholas of Thanjavur (a century later); and the Pandyas of Madurai.
The Vijayanagar kings (14th - 15th century AD) were great devotees and patrons of Tirupati and made more contributions.
Krishnadevaraya had statues of himself and his wives installed inside the Tirupati temple. There is also a statue of Venkatapati Raya in the main temple. These canbe seen even today.
The Maratta general, Raghoji Bhonsle, visited the temple and set up a permanent endowment for the temple. He also presented valuable jewels to the temple, including the great emerald which is still preserved in a box named after him. The rulers of Mysore and Gadhwal also made donations.
After the end of the Hindu rule, the rulers of Karnataka; and after them, the Britishers continued the patronage. In 1843, administration of the temple passed to Sri Seva Dossji of the Hathiramji Mutt at Tirumala.
In 1933, the Government passed a special Act, handing over administration to the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams Committee. To-day, under another law, a Board of Trustees appointed by the Andhra Pradesh Government maintains the T.T. Devasthanams which include 12 temples and their sub-shrines. The TTD Board is a miniature government.
Places to see
The main temple is huge. It practically constitutes a township.
On weekends and on auspicious days, the queues are very, very long. Yet, the visitors await their turn without a single word of complaint.
It is a temple difficult to describe in words. There is something in the ambience, or in the atmosphere, which inspires a feeling of devotion.
Padmavati Devi Temple
The large temple dedicated to Goddess Padmavati, the consort of Lord Venkateswara, also known as “Alamelumangapuram”, is in Tiruchanur, 5 kms. from Tirupati.It is believed that a visit to Tirumala is incomplete without a visit to the Padmavati Devi temple.
Govindarajaswami Temple is one of the most important temples in Tirupati.
It was consecrated by Saint Ramanujacharya in 1130 AD. It is located in Tirupati.
This temple dedicated to Sita, Ram and Lakshman is also located in Tirupati.
The Chola kings built it during the 10th century AD.
It is believed that Sita, Ram and Lakshman visited Tirupati after returning from Sri Lanka.
This is the only temple in Tirupati dedicated to Lord Shiva. It is about 3 kms. to the north of Tirupati.
The sacred waterfall called “Kapila Teertham” (also known as “Alwar Teertham”) is located here.
Kalyana Venkateswaraswami Temple
It is believed that Lord Venkateswara stayed here after his marriage with Padmavati Devi before proceeding to Tirumala. It is about 12 kms. to the west of Tirupati.
The Unique Geological Arch (Shilatoran)
1 km. above the temple is a unique geological formation. It is a delight for geologists and scientists.
It is a place which few tourists even know about.
It should not be missed.
The nearest airport is in Tirupati.
There are direct flights to Tirupati from Hyderabad and Chennai.
The nearest railway station is Tirupati. But most trains take a diversion at Renigunta or Gudur.
You can get down at these stations and travel on by bus or taxi.
Tirupati to Chennai - 130 kms. Tirupati to Chittoor - 67 kms.
Tirumala is a beautiful place.
The Unique Geological Arch (Shilatoran) 1 km. above the temple is a unique geological formation. It is a delight for geologists and scientists.
Spend some time there. It is a beautiful place.
You will feel as if you are in the Grand Canyon itself.
It is really a surprise to see the huge numbers of pilgrims and other visitors.
There is hurry, no flurry. Everyone is calm and quiet.
The place is refreshingly neat and clean.
The lawns and gardens are very well maintained.
Lots of pilgrims come to offer their hair to the Lord.
Tonsure, as this is called, gives a lot of revenue to the temple because the hair is sold.
Even if you don’t believe in religion, this place should be visited.
There are plenty of places to stay in Tirumala.
Otherwise, you can stay at Tirupati where there are all kinds of hotels.