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Tirumala Tirupati - Lord of the Seven Hills

There are many legends associated with the Tirupati Balaji Temple. One of the popular legends has it that during the Dwaparayuga, (the Wind God) went to Vaikuntam to pay his obeisance to Lord Sri Vishnu but as the Lord was resting, Adisesha who was guarding the doorway didn't allow him to enter. Incensed with the behaviour of Adisesha, Vayudeva challenged him to a duel to see who was stronger. During the course of the duel Adisesha went on to encircle the Ananda hill, an off-shoot of the Meru Mountain with Vayudeva blow hard to try and dislodge the Ananda hill from Adisesha's hold.
Tirumala Tirupati Temple
The contest waxed furiously, and as the World trembled, Brahma, Indra and the other gods requested Adisesha to yield victory to Vayudeva for the welfare of the world. Relentlessly Adisesha agreed and the hill was blown away to the banks of the river Swarnamukhi. Adisesha was dejected by his defeat but Lord Brahma and the others appealed to him by saying that he would be merged with the hill of Venkatadri and Vishnu would reside on him. Adisesha then metamorphosed into the vast Seshadri, with his hood manifesting itself as Venkatadri sustaining Sri Venkateswara, his middle as Ahobila supporting Lord Narasimha, and his tail as Srisailam bearing Lord Mallikarjuna (Lord Siva).
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A small sleepy town in the days of yore but a major pilgrimage town thronged by millions in the 21st century, the town of Tirupati has surely come a long way. Located in the Chittoor district of southern Andhra Pradesh, the town of Tirupati is famous for the spectacular temple of Lord Sri Venkateswara, also known as Lord Balaji. The temple of Lord Balaji is located on top of the Venkatadri hill (also called Venkatachala) at 860 meters above sea level. The Venkatadri hill is one of the seven peaks of the sacred Tirumala Hills, which is 3200 ft above sea level and 10.33 sq miles in area. The Tirumala Hills are said to be representing the seven hoods of Adisesha and are called Seshadri, Neeladri, Garudadri, Anjanadri, Vrishabhadri, Narayanadri and Venkatadri respectively.

The history of the temple dates back to as far as 9th Century A.D, when Pallavas, the rulers of Kancheepuram patronised this shrine followed by the Cholas of Thanjavur, the Pandyas of Madurai, and the kings and chieftains of Vijayanagara. Most of these rulers paid their homage by making rich endowments to the temple in terms of lands, jewels and villages by virtue of which the temple is today, perhaps the richest shrine in the world. The Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams (TTD) maintains the main temple along with 12 temples and their sub-shrines.

Places of Interest
Sri Venkateshwara Temple, Tirupati

Sri Venkateshwara Temple: The Sri Venkateswara Temple has its origins in Vaishnavism and is dedicated to Lord Vishnu, who by virtue of his presidency over Venkatachala is also known as Venkateswara (Lord of the Venkata Hill) and the Lord of the Seven Hills. The sanctum sanctorum which houses the idol of the Lord Balaji is situated in the main temple complex of Tirumala. Inside the temple complex main places are the main shrine, Krishna Devaraya Mandapam, Padi Kavali Maha Dwara Sampangi Pradakshinam, Ranga Mandapam Tirumala Raya Mandapam, Aaina Mahal, Dhwajasthambha Mandapam Nadimi Padi Kavili, Vimana Pradakshinam, Sri Varadarajaswami Shrine Potu, Sankeertana Bhandara, Bangaru Bavi, Snapana Mandapam Ramar Meda, Shayana Mandapam, Garbha Gruha, Kalyana Mandapam Sri Ramanuja Shrine, Sri Narasimhaswami Shrine, Tirumamani Mandapam Bangaru Vakili, Mukkoti Pradakshinam, Sri Vishwaksena Temple, Sri Yoga Narasimhaswami Temple, Sri Garuda Temple.

The Sri Venkateswara Temple is one of the few temples in India which allows people of other religious faiths to enter the sanctum sanctorum of the temple. The Lord is considered as a great granter of boons and it is believed that one can attain mukti only worshipping Lord Balaji with full devotion. The day of of Ekadasi in the month of Vaikunta is considered as highly auspicious at which time all pilgrims in the abode of God will be absolved of their sins.

Sri Varahaswami Temple: The Sri Varahaswami Temple in Tirumala dedicated to Varaha Swami, an incarnation of Lord Vishnu in the form of a boar is located to the north of the Sri Venkateshwara temple, on the banks of Swami Pushkarini. According to legend, Tirumala was originally Adi Varaha Kshetra (the home of Sri Adi Varaha Swami), and it was with his permission that Lord Sri Venkateswara took up residence here and that pilgrims should first visit and offer naivedyam (food offered to God) to Sri Varahaswami  before visiting the Sri Venkateswara Temple.

Swami Pushkarini, Tirupati

The Swami Pushkarini: The Swami Pushkarini (The Sacred Temple Water Tank) is located adjacent to the Sri Venkateswara temple. Devotees are required to bath here before entering the main temple. The wooden-float festival of Lord Sri Venkateswara in the month of February/March and Avabhrudhasnanam or Chakrasnanam during Brahmotsavam takes place in the Swami Pushkarini.

Sri Bedi Anjaneyaswami Temple: Located opposite the Sri Varahaswami Temple on the North Eastern banks of the Swami Pushkarini, the idol of Sri Anjaneya is shown with its hands folded in supplication (the Anjali pose) here.

The Tonsuring Ritual
Tonsuring Ritual
Tonsuring of the head is a long standing ritual associated with the temple. The objective behind tonsuring the head is to demonstrate that the person has completely surrendered his/her ego at the feet of the Lord.  Pilgrims can get their heads tonsured at the Kalyanakatta located opposite the Annanadanam Complex or at any of the seventeen sub-centers. The devotees can pay as per their discretion to the barbers after tonsuring. A bathroom has been provided next to the Kalyanakatta facilitate devotees to take bath. Alternately, a holy dip in the Pushkarini can also be taken, after which the devotees are then supposed to visit the temple for darshan. They can also request to be tonsured at the cottages where they are staying.
Interesting Fact: Tonsuring accounts for a sizeable amount for the TTD Board's revenue. The Board apparently makes a huge amount of money by selling the tonsured hair to wig makers.

Places Nearby

Sri Padmavati Samovar Temple: Tiruchanoor, also known as Alamelumangapuram, is about 5 km from Tirupati. The temple of Sri Padmavati Devi, the consort of Lord Sri Venkateshwara is situated here. It is said that a visit to Tirumala is fruitful only after visiting the Sri Padmavati Devi Temple. Darshan starts from 6.30 am on Weekdays and from 8.00 am on Fridays.

Sri Govindarajaswami

Sri Govindarajaswami Temple: The temple is dedicated to Sri Govindarajaswami - the elder brother of Lord Balaji. The temple is the main landmark of Tirupati town for it's an imposing Gopuram that can be seen from a distance. The principal deity is an impressive Sayanamurti (the Lord in a sleeping posture). Sri Govindarajaswami Temple was consecrated in 1130 AD by Saint Ramanujacharya. The annual Brahmotsavam in this temple is celebrated in the month of Vaisakha every year. This temple complex includes museum and a cluster of shrines like those of Sri Parthasarathy, Godadevi Aandal and Pundarikavalli.
The timings for Sarva Darshan are 9.30 am to 12.30 pm, 1.00 pm to 6.00 pm. and 7.00 pm to 8.45 pm.

Sri Kalyana Venkateshwaraswami Temple: Situated 12 km west of Tirupati at Shrinivasa Mangapuram, the temple is believed to have hosted Lord Venkateshwara after his marriage with Sri Padmavati Devi, before proceeding to Tirumala. Annual Brahmotsavam and Shakshatkara Vaibhavam are celebrated in grand manner.

Sri Kodandaramaswami Temple, Tirupati

Sri Kodandaramaswami Temple: Built in the 10th century by a Chola King, the temple is located in the heart of Tirupati town and houses the deities of Sita, Rama and Lakshmana. According to legend, this temple commemorates the visit of Sri Rama to Tirupati. The temple of Anjaneyaswami, which is directly opposite, is a sub shrine of this temple.

Sri Kapileshwaraswami Temple: The only temple dedicated to Lord Shiva, in the pantheon of Vaishnava temples in Tirupati, it is situated about 3 km north of Tirupati, at the foot of the Tirumala Hills. The sacred waterfall called Kapila Teertham (also known as Alwar Teertham) is located here.

Sri Veda Narayanaswami Temple, Nagalapuram

Sri Veda Narayanaswami Temple: Sri Veda Narayanaswami temple constructed by Sri Krishnadeva Raya is located in Nagalapuram, 70 km southeast of Tirupati. It is believed that Lord Sri Maha Vishnu, in the form of Matsya, killed the Rakshash (demon) Somakudu here, and retrieved the Vedas from the latter.

The Akashganga Waterfall: The Akashganga waterfall is about 3 km north of the Tirumala temple. This is very famous for the prime reason is that its waters are used for the Lord's bath every day. In the past, the priests took turns to carry the water all the way to the temple but now water lines have been laid into the temple.

TTD Gardens
The TTD Gardens occupy an area of 460 acres and the gardens meet the demand for flowers of all the temples in Tirumala.

The Papa Vinashanam (cleanser of Sins): About 5 km north of the Tirumala Temple is a deep bowl formed by the surrounding hills that created a reservoir ages ago. Its waters were initially used for worshipping purposes but abandoned later because of the distance from the temple. It is believed that the holy waters of this place dissolve the sins of the devotees. Hence this place is known as Papavinashanam. A dam constructed here regulates the water flow and it is still used though, for special occasions

Silathoranam: It is a natural rock formation in the form of an arch, near the Chakra Tirtham. Geologists have identified the rocks on the hill as pre-Cambrian, and this arch formation 25ft in length, l0ft in height suggests an antiquity of several million years to the Tirumala hill.  No buses are available and a private vehicle or a 20-minute walk from Sri Varahaswamy Temple brings you here.

Sri Venkateswara Canteen Complex
Wholesome vegetarian meals are provided free of cost to devotees, in the Sri Venkateswara Canteen Complex, from 1000 hrs to 2300 hrs, everyday. You can avail of this facility on production of the free meal coupon which is distributed inside the temple after worshipping the Lord.

Other nearby places: Other places worth visiting are Sri Venugopalaswami Temple of  Karvetinagaram (58 km from Tirupati); Sri Prasanna Venkateshwaraswami temple of Appalayagunta, (14 km from Tirupati); Sri Chennakeshavaswami Temple of  Tallapaka village (100 km from Tirupati);  Sri Kariya Manikyaswami Temple (also called Sri Perumala Swami temple) of Nagiri ( 51 km from Tirupati); Sri Annapurna Sameta Kashi Vishweshwaraswami Temple of Bugga Agraharam (56 km from Tirupati).

Brahmotsavam Festival
The Brahmothsavam festival of Lord Venkateshwara is the most important festival associated with Lord Venkateshwara. The festival is said to have been first celebrated by Brahma Himself and hence the name. According to the legend, when Goddess Lakshmi unable to bear the insult of sage Bhrigu kicking Lord Vishnu on his chest, which She considered her holy abode left Vaikunth, the Lord could not stand the agony of solitude began searching for her during the course of which he reached the Seshachala hill (Tirumala Hills).

Brahmotsavam Festival

Finding the place serene and salubrious, he settled down than ant-hill as Lord Sri Venkateshwara. Lord Brahma, then commemorated the occasion of Lord Venkateshwara's manifestation on earth with a grand celebration lasting 9-days. The tradition since then is being meticulously followed. This year the festival is going to be held from October 1st-October 9th.

Stay Options

The Tiruamala-Tirupati Devastanam Board has free dormitories, cottages and guesthouses which are leased out on different rates as per the facilities offered. Central Reception Office of the TTD takes care of the booking of rented accommodations. During off season, you can reserve a room a month in advance by sending them a letter and a draft for Rs. 100. Check more hotels in Tirupati.

How to reach

By Air: There is a small airport at Tirupati which receives flights from Hyderabad on Tuesdays and Saturdays. Chennai the closest city is at a distance of 150 km from Tirupati, which is well connected by various domestic and international from different parts of India and world.

By Rail: Tirupati is only 130 kilometers away from Chennai, a major railway station. Even otherwise it is well connected to Hyderabad, Bangalore and Chennai by road and rail transport.

By Road: APSRTC runs bus services from the airport to Tirumala and back for the benefit of air passengers apart from that a free bus service is also provided in and around Tirumala-Tirupati.

Check Driving Directions from Chennai to Tirupati
Check Driving Directions from Hyderabad to Tirupati

Best time to visit
Tirupati can be visited any time in the year but the ideal time to visit Tirupati is from September to March. The early weeks of December in particular are best if you wish to avoid crowd. The 10-day Brahmotsavam festival in October draws maximum visitors.

About Tirupati: Tirupati Information & Fact File
Altitude 162 meters
Summer 42 (Max) & 30 (Min) Degrees Celsius
Winter 35 (Max) & 12 (Min) Degrees Celsius
Best time to Go November – February
Monsoon July - September
Summer March - June
Clothes Cottons all year round
Nearest Airport Tirupati
Nearest Railway Station Tirupati East
Bus Station Tirupati (3rd largest bus station in Andhra Pradesh)
Hospital & Doctor

A Government General Hospital and a Super Specialty centre equipped to handle emergencies is available in Tirupati town. 

Places to see Tirumala Venkateswara Temple, Padmavati Temple, Govindaraja Swamy Temple, Kapila Theertham, ISCKON Temple…
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