The sacred shrine of Lord Venkateswara or Balaji is situated on top the Tirumala Hills with nature in all its glory, splendour and charm. Tirumala is situated 2820 ft above sealevel. It comprises seven peaks ,representing the seven hoods of Aadisesha , thus earning the name Seshachalam. The seven peaks are called Seshadri, Vedadri, Garudadri, Anjandri, Vrishabhadri, Narayandri and Venkatadri.The Venkatadri hill is believed to be a part of the celestial mount meru, brought to the earth from Vaikuntam by Garuda.The sacred temple of Sri Venkateswara is located on the seventh peak,Venkatdri and there are several legends associated with the manifestation of the lord in Tirumala. The shrine of the lord is very ancient and there are ample references to it in the early inscriptions belonging to the Chola and Pallava periods as well in the Sangam literature.
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) and the town at the foothill is known as Tirupati. 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 their pilgrimage.
Hundi offering is an important part of the pilgrimage to Tirumala. The collections, running into crores of rupees annually, are utilised for charitable purposes besides for the upkeep of the temple and making of the Laddu Prassadam and other Neivedyams distributed among the lakhs of devotees daily. With crores worth of hundi collections and gold and diamond jewellery used to adorn the idol, the Tirumala temple is the richest in the country.
The history of the temple dates back to as far as 9th Century A.D, when Pallavas, the rulers of Kancheepuram, patronized this shrine. But it was not until the time of Vijayanagara dynasty in 15th Century AD that the temple got recognition, and the contributions started pouring in.
From 1843 AD, when the Empire started rising in India till 1933 AD, the administrative activities of the Tirumala temple were overseen by Mahants of the Hatiramji Mutt.
In 1933, the Madras government took over and handed the reins of administration to an autonomous body known as the Tirumala-Tirupati Devasthanam (TTD) Committee.
Again in 1951, the TTD was reconstituted with a board of trustees, while an Executive Officer operated as its administrative head.
It 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.
The Sanctum sanctorum called the Garbha Griha is where the main idol of lord Venkateswara resides. The idol stands majestically to a height of eight feet, in the centre of the sanctum directly beneath a gold guilded dome called the Ananda Nilaya Divay Vimana.The exquisitely wrought idol called the Mulabera is believed to be Svayambhu(self manifested) ,according to the legends. Further ,no human being is known to have either sculpted or installed the idol in the shrine.
He has on the right side of his chest a clear impression of Goddess Lakshmi's, his consort. The deity has a unique magnetism, many devotees who go through the fleeting Sarvadarsanam have unusual psychic experience. They leave with a sense of spiritual satisfaction, coupled with a religious hunger to stand in front of Lord Venkateswara and experience the bliss again and again.
According to a legend, when Brigu insulted Mahavishnu in Vaikuntam, an annoyed Goddess Lakshmi proceeded to Earth and did penance in Kolhapur. The Lord came in search of the Devi, reached these hills and remained as Srinivasa. Here He met Padmavathi, an incarnation of Bhoodevi and a princess of Narayanapuram, whom he had promised to marry in Rama Avatar.
As it was a royal wedding, Srinivasa needed huge funds. He borrowed it from Kubera, the celestial cashier, who insisted on repayment with interest. Hence devotees in Andhra Pradesh call the deity VADDIKASULASWAMY (The Lord of interest), repayment Kubera's interest which never ends. Kubera, enshrined in the Govindarajaswamy temple at Tirupathi at the base of the hills, is believed to be there collecting the interest with a brass measure.
The Lord at Tirupathi is also known as Venkatachalapati, Venkatesa Perumal, Venkataramanamurthi and Edukondalavada (The Lord of Seven Hills).
Govindaraja Swami Temple: One of the most important temples in the heart of Tirupati is Sri Govindaraja Swami Temple, which was consecrated by Saint Ramanujacharya in 1130 AD. It is built by the Nayakas, the successors to the Vijayanagar empire. The temple has an impressive outer gopuram. The inner most gopuram is the earliest dating from the 14th-15th centuries. The main shrines are dedicated to Vishnu and Krishna.
Silathoranam (Rock Arch): About 1km from Tirumala Temple is a rare naturally formed arch. Believed to be the source of Lord Venkateswara's idol, the rocks resemble hood of a serpent, a conch and a discus. It is a geological wonder.
Kodandaramaswami Temple: Located in the heart of the Tirupati town, the Kodandaramaswami Temple was built by a Chola king in the 10th century AD. The presiding deities here are Sita, Rama and Lakshmana. The temple of Anjaneyaswami, which is directly opposite, is a sub-shrine of this temple.
Sri Kapileswaraswami Temple: Sri Kapileswaraswami Temple, is situated about 3-km north at the foot of the Tirumala Hills. This is the only temple dedicated to Lord Shiva, in Tirupati. Annual ' Brahmotsavams' and festivals like ' Vinayaka Chavithi', ' Maha Shivaratri', ' Skhanda Shasthi' and ' Annabhishekam' are performed in a grand manner. The sacred and beautiful waterfall, 'Kapila Teertham' or 'Alwar Teertham' is located here.
Padmavati Temple( Tiruchanur): About 3 km south of Tirupati is the temple of goddess Padmavati, the consort of Lord Venkateswara (Balaji). The large temple is also known as 'Alamelumangapuram' and it is said that a visit to Tirumala is fruitful only after visiting the Sri Padmavati Devi temple.
Papa Vinasanam Dam: Located 5 km north of Tirupati, the Papa Vinasanam dam site is serene and beautiful. The dam is filled with fish.
Sri Venkatesvara Museum: This museum is situated at the Sri Govindarajaswamy Temple compound, Tirupati. Visit : 0800 - 2000, Entry fee -Re.1. This museum contains exhibits of temple arts.
Sri Bedi Anjaneyaswami Temple: Sri Anjaneyaswami temple is located opposite the Sri Varahaswami temple on the North Eastern banks of the Swami Pushkarini. It was constructed during the Mahant's period. The idol's hands are joined in supplication (in the Anjali pose).
Sri Anjaneyaswami Temple: Sri Anjaneyaswami is believed to be a bestowed of boons and a protector from all-evil. Abhishekam is conducted every Sunday.
Teerthams: There are several teerthams in Tirumala, like Swami Pushkarini, Akashganga Teertham, Papavinashanam Teertham, Pandava Teertham, Kumaradhara Teertham, Tumbhuru Teertham, Ramakrishna Teertham, Chakra Teertham, Vaikuntha Teertham, Sesha Teertham, Sitamma Teertham, Pasupu Teertham, Japali Teertham, Sanaka Sanandana Teertham Important festivals at the teerthams are held on Kumaradhara Magha Pournami, Ramakrishna Pushya Pournami Tumbhuru Phalguna Pournami, Chakra Karthika Masa - Ksheerabdhi Dwadasi.
TTD Gardens: The TTD Gardens - ornamental, landscape and flower gardens - occupy an area of 460 acres in Tirupati and Tirumala. The gardens were set up to beautify the area in and around Tirumala The Gardens Department of TTD meets the demand for flowers of all the temples in Tirumala. It supplies garlands for adorning the deities and for decorating the mandapam, pandals and vahanas on festive occasions.
Ashthana Mandapam: The Ashthana Mandapam or Sadas Hall is an auditorium near the main temple complex. Cultural events are held here.
Dhayana Mandiram: Originally Sri Venkateshwara Museum was established in 1980. Stone and wooden carvings, articles used for puja, and traditional art and architecture are displayed here.