Reputed to be one of the
oldest and most venerated holy shrines of the Hindus. Tirupati is the abode of
Lord Venkateshwara (Balaji). The main temple is ensconced in the seven hills -
Tirumala (13 Km/8 mile). The temple dedicated to Lord
Venkateshwara at Tirumala is perched at a height of 874 m above sea level and 15
km north-west of Tirupati, which is another temple town. Tirupathi is located at
the foot of the seven hills of the Eastern Ghats in the Chittoor district of
Andhra Pradesh.Every day thousands of pilgrims descend on
Tirupati spilling out of buses, cars, taxis and trains. They are all in their
way up to the temple of the Lord Venkateswara. It is a pleasent drive from
Tirupati up to Tirumala and as the road winds its way up the forested slopes
there are splendid views of Tirupati and the plains. In earlier times people
climbed to the temple on foot, many do so even today making the trek a part of
The 12th-century Vaishnavite shrine is one of
the richest shrines of the world, the annual income of the temple being more
than six billion rupees. Often referred as the ‘Vatican of the East’, the
number of the visiting pilgrims and the wealth the temple town offers in terms
of religious, cultural and natural splendour, make it an unsurpassed pilgrimage
The exact period in which the temple was founded is not known, and tradition has it that the temple is Swayambhustala, meaning that it came into existence on its own without anyone constructing it. According to folk legends, there was a huge anthill at Tirupati. A farmer heard a voice from the heavens asking him to feed the ants. By chance the local king heard the voice and began supplying milk for the ants himself. His compassion resulted in the liquid uncovering a magnificent idol of Lord Venkateshwara hidden beneath the anthill.
According to some evidence the history of the temple dates back almost 2,000 years. In ancient times, a queen called Samavai, belonging to the Pallava dynasty (614 AD), is said to have consecrated the first silver image here. The temple is also mentioned in Sangam poetry (500 BC – 2000 AD). Numerous temple inscriptions from the 9th century record details of the temple and contributions made by both Pallavas and Chola Kings. It is believed that originally there was only one shrine at Tirumala. When the Vaishnavite saint, Ramanuja, visited Andhra in the 12th century, the temple at Tirupathi was built. The Chola period saw the temple complex prosper and expand further. In 1517, Krishnadevaraya, on one of his many visits to the temple, donated gold and jewels enabling the Vimana (inner shrine) roofing to be gilded. The Maratha general Raghoji Bhonsle visited the temple and set up a permanent administration for the conduct of worship in the temple. Among the later rulers who endowed large benefactions were the rulers of Mysore and Gadwal. In 1843, with the coming of the East India Company, the administration of the Shri Venkateshwara temple and a number of shrines was entrusted to Seva Dossji of the Hathiramji Mutt at Tirumala as Vicaranakarta for nearly a century until 1933, when the temple was under the administrative charge of the mahants. The Madras legislature passed a special act in 1933 whereby the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam (TTD) committee was invested with powers of administration and control through a commissioner appointed by the Government of Madras. A Ryot Advisory Council was formed for the management of the estates of the TTD, and was assisted by a Religious Advisory Council with regard to religious matters.
Temple of Lord
is an ancient temple, that has witnessed the rise and fall of powerful
dynasties. The Pallavas, Cholas and Pandyas all patrons of the shrine and
they endowed it with jewels and wealth. Later in the 16th century the great
Vijayanagar kings enriched & embellished the temple and gave it a new lease
of life. The temple is perfect example of the Dravidian style of temple
architecture. Within the three prakarams or enclosures of the temple complex is
the main shrine with its exquisitely worked and glided vimang above it. Within
the sanctum is the majestic "Swayambhu" or naturally formed image of
the Lord Venkateswara. He is seen standing on a lotus with his symbols, the
shankh (conch) and the chakra (discus) in his hands and on the chest are the
image of the goddesses Lakshmi & Padmavati. The figure is laden with jewels.
Today this shrine probably
attracts more devotees than any other temple in India and about 25000 people
coming from all over the country visit it daily, firm in the belief that any
wish expressed before this image of the Lord Venkateswara will be granted.
Devotees are directed to well equipped sheds where they form orderly queues as
they wait patiently for a darshana or a glimpse of the deity. Worship at the
temple starts in early hours of the morning before dawn, with the "Suprabhatham"
when Lord Venkateswara is woken from his rest. This early morning ritual
is an unforgettable experience - as the myriad flickering oil lamps light up the
sanctum and the majesty of the deity decked in glittering ornaments is seen.
The Brahmotsavam festival is celebrated here in
September and October. Sacred texts are recited each day. Every morning and
evening images of the deities are taken in a colourful procession around the
temple. The chariot of Lord Brahma, believed to be the initiator of the
festival, leads the procession in the name of Adika-masam which comes in every
A second Brahmotsava is held, which is known as
Navratri Brahmotsavam. These festivals attract thousands of pilgrims from
various parts of the country.