A Hindu temple in the hill town of 300 ad Tirumala is Tirumala Venkateswara Temple. It is near Tirupati in the Chittoor district of Andhra Pradesh in INIDA. It is around 600 km from Hyderabad, 138 km from Chennai and 291 km from Bangalore. This temple is opened in 300 AD and it’s architectural style is Dravidian architecture. After the Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple in Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala, this temple is the richest pilgrimage centre.
Interesting things in this temple:
Moolavirat or Dhruva Beram — the deity is about 8 feet (2.4 m) from the toes to the top of the crown and is considered the main source of energy for the temple.
the main deity is also known as Balaji, Srinivasa, Venkateswara,Edukondalavadu(Lord of seven hills in Telugu) and Venkatachalapathyor Venkataramana. The goddess Sri or Lakshmi resides on the chest of Venkateswara; so that, he is also known by the epithet “Srinivasa” (the one in whom Sri resides).
The goddesses Lakshmi and Padmavathi reside on either side of his chest. The deity is considered the Kali yuga varada, that is, ‘the boon-granting Lord of Kali yuga’. (Kali yuga is the fourth and final age of the Hindu cycle of ages). The temple is held in particular reverence by the sect who hails from of “Naimisharanya” (north India), known as the Sri Vaikhanasa/ Adhi Vaikhanasas followers of Sri Vikanasa Muni.
As per Vaikhanasa traditions only Lord Vishnu is worshiped in the Temple. The ancient texts of the sage Marichi (the Bhagvad Shastram and Vimanarchana Kalpam) state that Lord Vishnu here should be worshipped six times a day. They are
UshaKala Aradhana — worship (or Aradhana) should start and finish before sunrise
Prathakala Aradhana — worship should start after sunrise and finish before noon
Madhyanika Aradhana — worship should start and finish at noon
Aparahana Aradhana — worship should start when the sun starts to descend
SandhyaKala Aradhana — worship should start and finish around the sunset
Ardharatri Aradhana — worship should start after the horizon is completely dark
Names of the The Seven Hills
These seven hills also called as Saptagiri, represent the Saptarishi (seven sages). They sometimes called the Sapathagiri. Thus the Lord is named Saptagirinivasa.
The following are the seven hills:
Vrushabhadri — Hill of Nandi, the vahana of Lord Shiva
Anjanadri — Hill of Lord Hanuman
Neeladri — Hill of Neela Devi — It is believed that hair offered by the devotees is accepted by Neela Devi. It is because of boon granted by Lord Venkateswara to Neela Devi.
Garudadri or Garudachalam — Hill of Garuda, the vahana of Lord Vishnu
Seshadri or Seshachalam — Hill of Sesha, the dasa of Lord Vishnu
Naraynadri — Hill of Narayana. Srivari Padalu is located here
Venkatadri — Hill of Lord Venkateswara
Prasadam- Tirupati Laddu is given at Tirumala Temple as prasadam is the world famous. Why because no one can prepare the same Laddu. Many other prasadams are also available including daddojanam (curd rice), pulihora (tamarind rice), vada and chakkera-pongali (sweet pongal), miryala-pongali, Appam, Paayasam, Jilebi, Muruku, Dosa, seera (kesari). Free meals are given daily to the pilgrims. On Thursdays, the Tirupavadai seva occurs, where food items are kept for naivedyam to Lord Srinivasa.
Hair tonsuring- Many devotees offer their hair to lord balaji. . The daily amount of hair collected is over a ton. The hair thus gathered is sold by the temple organization a few times a year by public auction to international buyers for use as hair extensions and in cosmetics, bringing over $6 million to the temple’s treasury.
Story behind hair offered by devotees to Lord
When Lord Balaji was hit on his head by a shepherd, a small portion of his scalp became bald. This is noticed by Neela Devi, a Gandharva princess. She feels “such an attractive face should not have a flaw”. Immediately she cuts a portion of her hair and with her magical power she implants it on his scalp. Lord Balaji notices her sacrifice. As hair is a beautiful aspect of the female, he promises her that all his devotees who come to his abode should render their hair to him, and she would be the recipient of all the hair received. Hence it is believed that hair offered by the devotees is accepted by Neela Devi. The hill Neeladri, one among seven hills is named after her.
Hundi (donation pot)- The story is believed that Srinivasa had to make arrangements for his wedding. Lord Kubera credited money to the god Venkateswara (a form of the god Vishnu) for his marriage with Padmavati. Srinivasa sought a loan of one crore and 14 lakh (11,400,000) coins of gold from Kubera and had Viswakarma, the divine architect, create heavenly surroundings in the Seshadri hills. Together, Srinivasa and Padmavathy lived for all eternity while Goddess Lakshmi, understanding the commitments of Lord Vishnu, chose to live in his heart forever. In remembrance of this, devotees go to Tirupati to donate money in Venkateswara’s hundi (donation pot) so that he can pay it back to Kubera. The hundi collections go as high as 22.5 million INR a day. Devotees offer gold as a token of their love for God. The annual gold offering goes as high as 3000 kg.
Thulabharam- One of the most important offering in this temple is the ‘thulabharam.’ In the Thulabaram ritual, a devotee sits on a pan of a weighing balance and the other pan is filled with materials greater than the weight of the devotee. Devotees usually offer sugar, jaggery, tulsi leaves, banana, gold, coins. This is mostly performed with newborn babies or children.
Arjitha seva (paid services)- Pilgrims can view and participate in the various sevas performed to Dhruva bera (main idol), Bhoga Srinivasa, Sri Malayappa swami and other idols in the temple.
When pilgrims purchase arjitha seva tickets, they get the opportunity to see a seva performed to the Lord, obtain prasadam in the form of vastram (clothes), akshantalu (sacred and blessed rice) and food articles (laddus, vadas, dosas, pongal, rice items) and a darshan of the utsava murti.
Srikalahasti Temple is an ancient temple of Lord Shiva situated on the banks of the River Swarnamukhi. The renowned devotee of Lord Shiva, Kannappa, attained salvation here. This temple is 38 kilometres (24 mi) away from Tirupati, and is connected by frequent buses.
Srinivasa Mangapuram is situated 5 kilometres (3.1 mi) from Tirupati. This temple houses Lord Venkateswara, also known as Prasanna Venkateswara or Kalyana Venkateswara. Bus connections are available from Tirupati.
Sri Padmavati Devi Alayam (Alamelu Mangapuram), located 4 kilometres (2.5 mi) south of Tirupati, is an important temple which is visited by every pilgrim who visits Tirupati. It is this temple that houses the spouses of the Lord, Sri Padmavathi Devi (Alamelu Mangamma) and Thayaru. According to the legends, the goddess Padmavathi was born in a tank called Pushakarini at this place. The temples of Sri Krishna Swamy and Sri Sundara Raja Swamy are also inside the complex.
Sri Govinda Raja Swami Temple is located in Tirupati near the railway station. The highlight of the temple is its outer pinnacle (Gaali Gopuram), which is visible from a distance. In addition to a shrine to Sri Govinda Raja Swami, the temple complex also houses the shrines of Andal Ammavaru, Sri Krishna, Sri Ramanuja Thirumangai Alwar, Sri Vedanta Desika, Sri Lakshmi, and Sri Manevala Mahamunlu. The Bramhotsavam of Govinda Raja Swami during the month of Vaisakha (May–June) attracts a large number of devotees every year.
Sri Kodanda Rama Swami Temple is also situated in Tirupati. This temple houses the shrines of Lord Rama, Sita, and Lakshmana. The beautiful idols of this temple are famous. Bramhotsavam in this temple takes place in the month of Falgun (March–April).
Sri Kapileswara Swami Temple is the only temple of Lord Shiva in Tirupati. Pilgrims normally proceed to Tirumala for Darshan after taking a customary dip in the temple tank. Located amidst foothills of Tirumala, the place is also known for its waterfalls.
Sri Kalyana Venkateswara Swami Temple is located at Narayanavanam, according to legends. Lord Venkateswara courted and married goddess Padmavathi Devi here. Soumyanatha Swami Temple, Soumyanatha Swami is another name and form of Lord Venkateswara in Nandalur Kadapa District.