As we all know that a temple serves as a focal point for the Hindu community’s As we all know that a temple serves as a focal point for the Hindu community’s religious, cultural, educational, and social activities. It is a place where someone can escape the confines of the human world. We believe that our lives are just a series of steps on the path to salvation for which a temple is a place to approach God and seek divine knowledge. Such is the importance of temples in our Hindu culture. One such important temple which is considered very sacred in our culture is the Tirupati Balaji Mandir, which we will discuss today in this article.
Tirupati Balaji Temple is a well-known Hindu temple situated in Tirupati, Andhra Pradesh, devoted to Lord Vishnu’s avatar, Venkateshwara. Lord Venkateshwara is said to have descended on Earth to deliver humanity from the hardships and tribulations of the ‘Kaliyuga,’ as per Hindu mythology. The area is known as Kaliyuga Vaikuntam, and the Lord is known as Kaliyuga Prathyaksha Daivam, in accordance with this concept. Lord Venkateshwara is a manifestation of Lord Vishnu who is responsible for overseeing and caring for the universe. Venkatachalapathi, Kaliyug Vaikuntha, Venkataraman, Tirumal devar, Varadaraja, Srinivasa, Balaji, and Bithala are some of Lord Venkateshwara’s other names. The shrine is managed by Tirumala Tirupati Devsthanams (TTD).
Located at 853 meters above sea level, the Tirumala Hills have seven summits, each signifying one of Adisesha’s (Divine Serpent and Lord Vishnu’s) seven heads. The temple is located on the southern borders of late Sri Swami Pushkarini, a sacred water tank, atop the seventh peak, Venkatadri. As a result, the temple is also known as the “Temple of Seven Hills.” Seshadri, Neeladri, Garudadri, Anjanadri, Vrushabhadri, Narayanadri, and Venkatadri are the names of the seven summits.
Several literary works and sacred books or Puranas, such as the Varaha Purana and Bavishyottara Purana, have mentioned the Tirupati Balaji Temple’s heritage. In the eighth century, King Thondaiman, a Tamil prince from the ancient Thondaimandalam dynasty, built the very first shrine at Tirumala Tirupati. The temple received its initial donation in 966 CE, when Pallava Queen Samavai offered some valuables and two tracts of land (10 acres and 13 acres, respectively), with instructions to utilize the profits from the sale of the land to fund important temple festivities.
Following this, Emperor Krishnadevaraya, the most famous emperor of the Vijayanagara dynasty, contributed significantly throughout his travels. He contributed money and jewels, allowing the main shrine – Ananda Nilayam – to be embellished. Raghoji I Bhonsle, a Maratha general, came to the temple and established systematic management for the temple’s service. Following the culmination of the Vijayanagara Empire, new monarchs from the Mysore and Gadwal Samsthanam realms started worshipping and contributing gold, jewels, and other luxuries. The temple suffered a series of challenges, and authority was passed around a lot. It was first headed by Golconda in 1956, then passed into the clutches of the French, then the British. The Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams were formed in 1933 under the administration of Mahants, who continue to oversee the temples in Tirupati to this day.
There are numerous theories about the foundation of this ancient structure. One of Lord Vishnu’s eight ‘Swayambhu Kshetras’ (self-manifested images), the relatively large sculpture of the principal divinity is claimed to have emerged on its own. Many ancient works of literature, such as the Rig Veda, mention the temple’s presence and importance. Written literature from the Mauryan and Gupta periods refers to the temple as ‘Aadhi Varaha Kshetra.’
Since the Rishis (sages) were doing a Yajna (fire ceremony) in the Kaliyuga when Narada inquired about who will bear the Yajna’s fruit, they resolved to send Sage Bhrigu to put the God Triad to trial to see who is worthy of the sacred ritual’s fruits. On his feet, the sage had an additional eye. He went undetected when he visited Lord Brahma in Satyaloka and Lord Shiva in Kailasha. He went to Lord Vishnu’s residence Vaikunta, where Vishnu was reclining on his serpent bed (Adisesha) and Devi Lakshmi was caressing his feet. When Sage Bhrigu saw this, he became enraged, believing that Vishnu was feigning to rest attempting to avoid him, thus kicking the Lord in the chest. To this, when Vishnu opened his eyes, he put his foot against his third eye and subdued the sage, effectively squashing it.
Goddess Lakshmi, on the other hand, was upset with Sage’s misconduct of hitting Vishnu in the chest, in which the Goddess lives, and flew out of Vaikunta. In the Tirumala Hills, Lord Vishnu, dejected, assumed the physical form of Srinivasa and wedded Padmavati, Akasaraja’s daughter. When Goddess Lakshmi learned of this, she travelled to Tirumala to interrogate Vishnu regarding the union. When Lakshmi and Padmavati confronted Srinivasa, legend has it that he turned to stone. Lord Brahma and Lord Shiva insisted that the two ladies become the same as Srinivasa, as they desired to spend eternity with the Lord. Hence, Padmavati is on the right side of his chest, whereas Lakshmi is on the left.
The temple is built in the Dravidian architectural style, and has three paths that open at the main Sanctorum (main temple). ‘Mahadwaram’ is the name of the first entryway. Just anterior to the first gate is a colossal gateway (Gopuram) that stands 50 feet tall. There are two circumvent paths around the temple. The first pathway features several pillared halls and flagstaffs, and a special place for distributing the offerings, whilst the second pathway has several sub-shrines, the main gallery, the main Hundi, and many other significant structures. For the pilgrims’ convenience, guest accommodations and numerous snack counters have recently been built. The most prominent component of the temple is the ‘Ananda Nilayam,’ a gold-plated structure inside the temple complex. The major deity is housed in the inner temple of ‘Ananda Nilayam,’ which was built near the 12th century A.D. It was eventually rebuilt in the late 1950s and early 1960s. Swami Pushkarni, the temple’s sacred pool, is situated on the temple’s northern side. Among the holiest areas in the temple is Pushkarni which covers 1.5 acres of land. According to mythology, Garuda carried the pond entirely from Vaikuntham to the hills. In 1468, Saluva King Narasimha Raya built a columned pavilion in the center of the pond.
About richness and contributions, Tirumala Tirupati is the world’s wealthiest temple. The temple receives 50,000 to 100,000 pilgrims every day with the number of pilgrims increasing to 500,000 during important events and celebrations, such as the yearly Brahmotsavam, this makes it the world’s most-visited sacred location. From a religious standpoint, the Sri Venkateshwara Temple at Tirumala (Tirupati) is extremely important to Hindus. Every year, visitors, and pilgrims from across the world pay a visit to the temple. Sri Venkateshwara is a facilitator of bounties in the Dark Age (Kaliyuga), as per mythology. People gather here to receive the Lord’s graces.
According to legend, the temple’s principal deity has stood the test of time (Yugas). Devotees typically experience a mood of joy after visiting the temple because it is claimed that Lord Vishnu transformed himself into stone to assist humanity during the Dark Age. The temple is also important to the overall local economy and the administration of Andhra Pradesh specifically. As the world’s wealthiest temple, it employs thousands of people and is the primary source of income for many others.
Within the temple complex, there are shrines to a variety of gods. The statues of Lord Ram, Sita, Lakshman, and Hanuman are among them. There are shrines devoted to Lord Krishna, his wife Rukmani, Vishvaksena, Sugriva, and Angad in the temple. While Sugriva and Angad are well-known characters belonging to the Hindu epic Ramayanam, Lord Vishnu’s valet Vishvaksena is in charge of the Lord’s wealth. Aside from these, there are five major deities’ shrines, which are listed below:
- Tirumala Dhruva Bera: Dhruva Bera is the major shrine and is regarded as a spring of energy in Tirumala. Lord Venkateshwara’s idol has been fixed and is thought to be a Swayambhu (self-manifested image). Lord Vishnu is claimed to have been reborn on Earth and taken the shape of Srinivasa (physical form). He wedded princess Padmavati during his time on Earth. Goddess Lakshmi went in quest of her spouse after learning about his remarriage. Lord Vishnu, who had adopted the shape of Srinivasa, turns to stone when faced by both Goddess Lakshmi and Padmavati.
- Bhoga S. Srinivasa: This one is a little silver idol of the main deity (Dhruva Bera). Queen Samavai belonging to the Pallava dynasty donated this idol to the temple in 614 A.D. Bhoga S. Srinivasa is the name given to the idol since it enjoys all of life’s pleasures.
- Ugra Srinivasa: This idol is housed in the Sanctorum and is bathed daily with ghee, curd, sanctified water, and other elements. The idol was featured in the parades at first, but Utsava Beram eventually took its place. According to legend, anytime Ugra Srinivasa’s idol was carried out for marches, fires would surely occur. As a result, this idol was regarded as Lord Venkateshwara’s ferocious manifestation.
- Utsava Beram: When the devotees recognized they couldn’t wield Ugra Srinivasa’s idol for ceremonial occasions anymore, they prayed to God, asking Him to give a solution. One of his disciples dreamt of the Lord and informed him of that other idol that may be placed on ceremonial occasions. The worshippers then discovered Utsava Beram’s idol in the Seshachalam hills. To this day, the very same idol is utilized in processions.
- Koluvu Srinivasa: Koluvu Srinivasa is a guardian deity that oversees all operations, including the temple’s money, and is made of a blend of five metals. The idol is also known as Bali Beram and looks a lot like Dhruva Bera.
Best Time to Visit
Summer in this part of the country is quite hot. As a result, the most appropriate season to visit this shrine is between November and February, when the temperature is mild. Because this temple is large and packed all year, this period may be a better alternative because the weather is favorable. Remember to get yourself enrolled before entering the temple, as it is a requirement to visit the sacred temple. Your trip will last about 2 to 3 hours if you explore the entire temple.
Every year, the Tirupati Shrine celebrates 433 festivals, thereby transforming each day into a festival. ‘Brahmotsavam’ is Tirupati’s most well-known festival among all of them. Over nine days, ‘Brahmotsavam’ is performed in magnificent style. Visitors and tourists from all across the country attend the celebration. According to tradition, Lord Brahma returns to Earth every year just to partake in this celebration, which is why it is known as ‘Brahmotsavam,’ which directly translates to ‘Brahma’s festival.’ The ‘Vaikunta Ekadashi,’ is another important festival observed in the temple. On this day, it is said that the portals of paradise (Lord Vishnu’s dwelling) will stay open. As a result, the event is extremely important. ‘Rathasapthami,’ ‘Rama Navami,’ ‘Janmashtami,’ ‘Vasanthotsavam,’ ‘Pushpa yagam,’ and ‘Teppotsavam’ are some other prominent festivals observed in the temple.’
Reaching Tirupati Balaji Temple:
- Via Air: Tirupati Airport is the closest airport. The nearest international airport is in Chennai, which offers good connections to all parts of the country and overseas. Taxis are readily available from the airport to the temple.
- Via Train: Tirupati is the closest station. You may take a taxi or bus to the temple from here. Another station, called the “Renigunta” junction, is around 35 kilometers from the shrine.
- Via Road: Tirupati is connected to the rest of the country through a well-developed road network in Andhra Pradesh. There are daily regular buses to this temple from both private and state bus companies (APSRTC and KSRTC). Chennai, Bangalore, and Hyderabad are the closest cities.
- On Foot: To fulfill a vow, many worshippers walk up the hills to Tirumala. Tirumala is accessible via two well-kept stone walkways.
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Frequently Asked Questions
What is the location of Tirupati temple?
It lies in the hill town of Tirumala, in the Chittoor district of Andhra Pradesh, near Tirupati.
Lord Venkateshwara is a manifestation of Lord Vishnu, who is said to have descended on Earth to liberate humanity from the ‘Kaliyuga’s trials and tribulations.
The principal divinity of the Tirupati Shrine is Lord Sri Venkateshwara, a Vishnu avatar.