Tirumala Venkateswara Temple
|Tirumala Venkateswara Devasthanam|
|Proper name:||Sri Venkateswara Swamy vaari temple|
|Elevation:||853 m (2,799 ft)|
|Important festivals:||Brahmotsavam, Vaikunta Ekadasi, Ratha Saptami|
|Architecture and culture|
|Architectural styles:||Dravidian architecture|
|Number of temples:||2|
|Date built:||Earliest records date to 300 BC (probable)|
|Temple board:||Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams|
|Part of a series on|
Tirumala Sri Venkateswara Temple (తిరుమల శ్రీవేంకటేశ్వర స్వామి వారి ఆలయం) is a famous Vedic temple in the hill town of Tirumala, near Tirupati in Chittoor district of Andhra Pradesh. It is around 435 km (270 mi) from the state capital Vijayawada, 571.9 km(355.3 mi) from Hyderabad, 138 km (86 mi) from Chennai and 291 km (181 mi) from Bangalore.The nearest city is Chennai.Before the creation of states, the temple town was a part of the Madras Presidency.
The Tirumala Hill is 853m above sea level and is about 10.33 square miles (27 km2) in area. It comprises seven peaks, representing the seven heads of Adisesha, thus earning the name Seshachalam. The seven peaks are called Seshadri, Neeladri, Garudadri, Anjanadri, Vrushabhadri, Narayanadri and Venkatadri. The temple is on Venkatadri (also known as Venkatachala or Venkata Hill), the seventh peak, and is also known as the "Temple of Seven Hills". The presiding deity of the temple is Lord Venkateswara, an incarnation of lord Vishnu. Venkateswara is known by other names: Balaji, Govinda, and Srinivasa. The temple lies on the southern banks of Sri Swami Pushkarini, a holy water tank. The temple complex comprises a traditional temple building, with a number of modern queue and pilgrim lodging sites.The temple is listed as 106th and the last earthly divya desam(total).The rich legacy of this temple are supported by Tamil and Telugu texts.
It is the richest temple in the world in terms of donations received and wealth, and the most-visited place of worship in the world. The temple is visited by about 50,000 to 100,000 pilgrims daily (30 to 40 million people annually on average), while on special occasions and festivals, like the annual Brahmotsavam, the number of pilgrims shoots up to 500,000, making it the most-visited holy place in the world.
There are several legends associated with the manifestation of the Lord in Tirumala. According to one legend, the temple has a murti (deity) of Lord Venkateswara, which it is believed shall remain here for the entire duration of the present Kali Yuga.
- 1 Etymology
- 2 History of the temple
- 3 Architecture
- 4 Annamayya
- 5 Tarikonda Venkamamba
- 6 Tyagaraja
- 7 Deities in the temple
- 8 Worship
- 9 Epigraphical records
- 10 Temple activities
- 11 The Seven Hills
- 12 Festivals
- 13 Religious importance
- 14 Nearby temples
- 15 See also
- 16 Notes
- 17 References
- 18 External links
History of the temple
The deity itself is self-formed or swayambhu.Thondaiman, ruler of the ancient Thondaimandalam (present day Kanchipuram) (capital: Kanchipuram, just south of modern day Chennai), is believed to have first built the temple after visualizing Lord Vishnu in his dream. He built the Gopuram and the Prakhara, and arranged for regular prayers to be conducted in the temple. Later on the Chola dynasty vastly improved the temple and gave rich endowments. To date, you will find the various Tamil Grantha script within the Temple prakara walls. The Sangam literature of Tamil such as that of Silapadikaram and Satanar Manimekalai, dated between 500BC and 300AD, mentions Thiruvengadam (now named Tirupati) by the appellation "Nediyon Kunram" as the northernmost frontier of the Tamil kingdoms . In fact, a fairly detailed description of the deity is given in lines 41 to 51 of book 11 of the Silapadikaram .  Pallavas king of Thondaimandalam alias Tondai Nadu in Tamilnadu Raja Karunakara Thondaiman (Thondaiman Chakravarty) chiefly contributed to building the temple. Krishnadevaraya is also said to have made several endowments to the temple.The Pallavas of Kanchipuram (9th century AD), the Cholas of Tanjore (10th century), and Vijayanagara pradhans (14th and 15th centuries) were committed devotees of Lord Venkateswara. During the invasion of Srirangam by Malik Kafur in 1310–11 AD, the Ranga Mandapam of the temple served as the shelter for the presiding deity of Srirangam, Ranganatha Swamy. Later, under the rule of the Vijayanagara emperors, was when the temple gained most of its current wealth and size, with the donation of diamonds and gold. In 1517 Vijayanagara ruler Sri Krishna Deva Raya, on one of his many visits to the temple, donated gold and jewels, enabling the Vimana (inner shrine) roofing to be gilded. Statues of Sri Krishna Deva Raya and his spouse stand in the premises of the temple. After the decline of Vijayanagara Empire, kings from states such as Mysore and Gadwal worshiped as pilgrims and gave ornaments and valuables to the temple. Maratha general Raghoji I Bhonsle (died 1755) visited the temple and set up a permanent administration for the conduct of worship in the temple. There is an idol of Raja Todar Mal who was the revenue minister of Akbar, greeting pilgrims in the premises of the temple.
In 1843, with the coming of the Madras Presidency, the administration of the Sri Venkateswara Temple and a number of shrines was entrusted to Seva Dossji of the Hathiramji Mutt at Tirumala as Vicaranakarta for nearly a century until the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams (TTD) was established as a result of the TTD Act in 1932.
After independence Andhra state was created on linguistic grounds, wherein Tirupati which had and still has a majority of Telugu speaking population was assigned by Govt. of India, integrating it as part of Andhra.
TTD is operated by a Board of Trustees that has increased in size from five (1951) to fifteen (1987) through the adoption of Acts. The daily operation and management of TTD is the responsibility of an executive officer who is appointed by the government of Andhra Pradesh.
The temple attracts approximately 75,000 pilgrims every day. The annual budget, estimated at INR 10 billion in 2008, runs charitable trusts whose funds are derived from the budget and donations from the devotees. The popularity of the temple can be judged by its annual budget. The annual income is estimated at INR 10 billion in 2008. Most of its income is derived from the donations in SriVari Hundi. Devotees donate to the TTD, which runs into millions of rupees. TTD, the organisation running the welfare of the temple, runs various charitable trusts, whose funds are derived from the budget and donations from the devotees.
The civet is an endangered cat-like animal that first appeared in historic texts during the 12th century. In these texts, it was depicted that Kings would be bathed in the oil created from the secretion of these cats, called Punugu oil, for aromatic purposes. In the 14th century the oil became known as being a very prestigious perfume. In the 21st century, the temple has used this oil to anoint the sacred image of Sri Venkateswara every Friday. Due to the weekly occurrence of this practice, the TTD reared nine of these civets in the Sri Venkateswara dairy farms to easily collect the secretions. Then in 2002, due to the endangered nature of the animals, this practice came under fire. The topic cropped up again in 2008, this time accompanied by the confiscation of their civets due to the violation of the 1972 Wildlife Protection Act. The temple tried to re-obtain the civets by stating that without these animals it would go against their ageless religious practices. If that plan failed, which it most likely would, they had hopes of funding a zoo refuge for these animals and in turn be able to collect their secretions. 
Songs and hymns
The outpouring divine grace of Sri Balaji inspired Tallapaka Annamacharya to sing His glories in Telugu and in Sanskrit. Of the 36000 songs composed by him, only 12000 are available. Keertanas like 'Brahma Kadigina Paadamu' and 'Adivo Alladivo Sriharivaasamu' are popular even today.
Purandaradasa was another who composed thousands of songs regarding Lord Venkateswara. Only a few hundred of his songs are available. 'Daasana Maadiko Enna', 'Nambide Ninna Paadava Venkataramana' are worthy of mention.
Ramabhakta and Sri Tyagaraja (writer of over 4000 songs), were also among the devotees of Lord Venkateswara. 'Tera Teeyagarada', 'Venkatesa! Ninnu Sevimpanu' are among his well-known Keertanas on the Lord Venkateswara.
The vimanam is a monumental tower with a golden roof. Its inner temple or vimanam houses the main deity, Lord Sri Venkateswara. The deity stands directly beneath a gilt dome called the Ananda Nilaya Divya Vimana. This exquisitely wrought deity, called the Mulaberam, is believed to be self-manifested, and no human being is known to have installed it in the shrine. The Lord wears a gold crown with a large emerald embedded in the front. On special occasions, he is adorned with a diamond crown. The Lord has a thick double tilaka drawn on his forehead, which screens his eyes. His ears are decorated with golden earrings. The right hand is pointing to his lotus feet. His left hand is akimbo. His body is dressed with yellow clothing tied with gold string and a gold belt with gold bells. He has a yajnopavita (sacred thread) flowing down crosswise from his left shoulder. He bears Lakshmi Devi on his right chest and Padmavathi Devi on his left chest. His feet are covered with gold frames and decked with gold anklets. A curved gold belt encompasses his legs. The Ananda Nilaya Divya Vimana was covered with gilt copper plates and surmounted with a golden vase in the 13th century, during the reign of the Vijayanagara king Yadava Raya.The ancient and sacred temple of Sri Venkateswara is located on the seventh peak, Venkatachala (Venkata Hill) of the Tirupati Hill, and lies on the southern banks of Sri Swami Pushkarini. It is by the Lord's presidency over Venkatachala, that He has received the appellation, Venkateswara (Lord of the Venkata Hill). He is also called the Lord of the Seven Hills.
From the Tirumamani Mandapam, one can enter the Bangaru Vakili (Meaning Golden Entrance in Telugu) to reach the inner sanctum sanctorum. There are two tall copper images of the dwarapalakas Jaya and Vijaya on either side of the door. The thick wooden door is covered with gilt plates depicting the dasavataram of Sri Maha Vishnu. The doorway is directly in line with the Padi Kavali and the Vendi Vakili(Meaning Silver Corridor in Telugu). It admits pilgrims to the Snapana Mandapam. Suprabhatam is sung in front of this door.
The Garbhagruha or sanctum is where the idol of Lord Sri Venkateswara is placed. The idol stands majestically in the Garbha Gruha, directly beneath a gilt-dome called the "Ananda Nilaya Divya Vimana". This idol, called the Mulaberam, is believed to be self-manifested. As there is no known sculptor possessing the capability to sculpt idols of god so proportionately. Further, no human being is known to have installed it in the shrine.
The idol of the Lord wears a gold crown (Kiritam), which has a large emerald embedded on its front. On special occasions, it is replaced with a diamond kiritam. On the forehead of the idol, two thick patches of tilak drawn with refined camphor, almost covers the eyes of the idol. In between the two white patches is a Kasturitilakam made of saffron.
Golden makara kundalas hang on the ears of the idol. The palm of its raised right hand is embedded with a gem-set Sudarshana Chakra and the left palm with the Holy Cone. The slightly outstretched front right hand, has its fingers pointing toward the feet, as if the Lord is the only recourse to his devotees to dissolve in him and enjoy eternal bliss. The akimbo of the front left hand implies lord's protection to devotees and to show that the Samsara Sagara (Ocean of Life) is never deeper than to hip's height, if they seek his refuge.
The body of the Idol is spun with a Gold-stringed-Pitambaram, with a belt of golden-bells. The idol is decorated with precious ornaments. It has a sacred thread flowing down, crossing from the left shoulder. It bears Goddess Lakshmi on the right chest and Sri Padmavathi Devi on the left. Nagaabharanam ornaments are on both shoulders of the idol. The lotus feet are covered with gold frames and decked with clinging gold anklets. A strong curved belt of gold encompasses the legs. During abhishekam, we can have darshan of Goddess Lakshmi.
The Ananda Nilaya Divya Vimana was covered with gilt copper plates and covered with a golden vase, in the thirteenth century, during the reign of the Vijayanagara king, Yadava Raya.
Pilgrims are not allowed to enter the Garbha Gruha (beyond Kulasekhara padi (path)).
Ramanuja (1017–1137 .E) (Holy People of the World: A Cross-Cultural Encyclopedia) born in a Tamil Brahmin family in the village of Sriperumbudur, Tamil Nadu.(Philosophers and Religious Leaders: An Encyclopedia of People Who Changed the World Lives & Legacies) was the architect of Tirupati and the father of the Sri Vaishnava community. He was responsible for managing the worshipping procedures and other affairs of the Sri Venkateswara temple. His shrine was built around the 13th century. It overlooks the western end of the Tirumamani Mandapam. There are two tall copper images of the Dvarapalas (door guardians) Jaya and Vijaya on either side of the door. The door is covered with gilt plates depicting the Dashavatara of Sri Maha Vishnu. The doorway is directly in line with the Padi Kavali and the Vendi Vakili. It admits pilgrims to the Snapana Mandapam. Suprabhatam is sung in front of this door. The right hand of the stone image of Ramanuja is held in the gesture of exposition (vyakhyana mudra), and the left hand in the form of boon bestowal (varada hasta) or of holding a book (pustaka hasta). The shrine figures prominently during the festival of Adhyayanotsavam, which is a typical Pancharatra observance. Special worship is conducted in this shrine during Gandhapodi Utsavam and Bhashyakara Utsavam. The presiding deity of Ramanuja is taken in a grand procession to meet Malayappa near the Padi Kavali.
Jeeyar Mattam was established by Ramanuja, with the call of the Divine that made today's Chinna Jeeyar Swamy the young Srimannarayana Ramanujacharyulu to take up the ascetic order of JEEYAR(Lion) at a very young age of 23 years. He is reckoned very high among the monks of the India and abroad as the pioneer and Crusader of Peace.
Sri Tallapaka Annamacharya (or Annamayya) (9 May 1408 – 23 February 1503) was the official songmaster of the Tirumala Venkateswara Temple, and a Telugu composer who composed around 36000 keertana songs, many of which were in praise of Venkateswara, the presiding deity of the temple. The musical form of the keertana songs that he composed have strongly influenced the structure of Carnatic music compositions, which are still popular among Carnatic music concert artists. Sri Annamacharya is remembered for his saintly life, and is honoured as a great Bhakta/devotee of Bhagwaan Govinda by devotees and saintly singers.He is widely regarded as the Pada-kavita Pitaamaha (grand old man of song-writing) of the Telugu language. Annamacharya is said to have composed as many as 36,000 sankeertanas (songs) on Bhagwaan Govinda Venkateswara, of which only about 12,000 are available today. Annamacharya considered his compositions as floral offerings to Bhagwaan Govinda. In the poems, he praises Venkateswara, describes his love for him, argues and quarrels with the Lord, confesses the devotee's failures and apprehensions, and surrenders himself to Venkateswara. His songs are classified into the Adhyaatma (spiritual) and Sringaara (romantic) sankeertanas genres. His songs in the "Sringaara" genre worship Bhagwaan Venkateswara by describing his amorous and romantic adventures of Venkateswara and Alamel Manga, while others describe the Bhakti of his devotees. In his later keertanas, he espouses subjects such as morality, dharma and righteousness. He was one of the first few who opposed the social stigma towards the untouchable castes in his era, with his sankeertanas explaining that the relationship between God and human is the same irrespective of the latters' color, caste and financial status, in beautiful yet powerful usage of words in his songs "Brahmam Okkate Parabrahmam Okkate..." and "E Kulajudainanemi Evvadainanemi..."
Tarikonda Venkamamba (born 1730) was a poetess and staunch devotee of Lord Venkateswara in the 18th century. She wrote numerous poems and songs. Her first poem was Tarikonda Nrusimha Satakam; it was followed by three Yakshaganams, Nrusimha Vilasa Katha, Siva Natakam and Balakrishna Natakam; and Rajayogamrutha Saram, a Dwipada Kavyam. These works were completed when she was in Tarikonda. On her return to Tirumala from Tumburakona caves, Venkamamba composed Vishnu Parijatham, Chenchu Natakam, Rukmini Natakam and Jala Krida Vilasam and Mukthi Kanthi Vilasam (all Yakshaganams), Gopi Natakam (Golla Kalapam-Yakshaganam), Rama Parinayam, Sri Bhagavatham, Sri Krishna Manjari, Tatva Keerthanalu and Vashista Ramayanam (Dwipada), Sri Venkataachala Mahatyam (Padya Prabhandam) and Ashtanga Yoga,Saram (Padyakruthi).
Kakarla Tyagabrahmam (4 May 1767 – 6 January 1847), colloquially known as Tyagayya and Tyāgarājar, was one of the greatest composers of Carnatic music or classical South Indian music. He, along with his contemporaries Muthuswami Dikshitar and Shyama Shastry, forms the Trinity of Carnatic music. He was a prolific composer and highly influential in the development of the South Indian classical music tradition. Tyagaraja composed thousands of devotional compositions, most of them in praise of Lord Rama – most of which remain very popular even today. Of special mention are five of his compositions called the Pancharatna Krithis (English: 'five gems'), which are often sung in programs in his honour. His compositions in praise of Lord Venkateswara include – 'Tera Teeyagarada', 'Venkatesa! Ninnu Sevimpanu' among others.
Deities in the temple
- Moolavirat or Dhruva Beram — The main stone deity of Lord Venkateswara is called Dhruva Beram (beram means "deity", and dhruva means "pole star" or "fixed"). 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.
- Kautuka Beram or Bhoga Srinivasa — This is a tiny one-foot (0.3 m) silver deity, which was given to the temple in 614 AD by Pallava Queen Samavai Perindevi, and has never been removed from the temple from the day it was installed. This deity is popularly known as Bhoga Srinivasa, because it enjoys all the Bhoga (worldly pleasures) which the Moolavirat has. This deity sleeps in a golden cot every night and receives Sahasra Kalashabishekam every Wednesday. This deity is always placed near the left foot of Moolavirat and is always connected to the main deity by a holy Sambandha Kroocha. The deity is always faced at an angle of 45 degrees towards the devotees, because it holds a Prayoga ("ready to strike") Chakra.
- Snapana Beram or Ugra Srinivasa — This idol of the Lord represents the anger part of Lord Venkateswara. He remains inside the sanctum sanctorum, and comes out on only one day each year: on Kaishika Dwadasi, before the sunrise. Snapana means "cleansing". The idol is cleansed daily with holy waters, milk, curds, ghee, sandalwood paste, turmeric, and so on.
- Utsava Beram — This is the form of the Lord which comes out of the temple to see the devotees. This deity is also called Malayappa, and its consorts are Sridevi and Bhudevi. These three deities were found in a cave called Malayappan Konai in the holy Tirumala Hills. Originally Ugra Srinivasa was the Utsava Beram (the procession deity), and frequently disastrous fires were happening whenever the deity was taken out for processions. People prayed to the Lord for a solution. The Lord appeared in dreams, and ordered the people to find a suitable set of idols hidden in the Holy Tirumala hills for the Utsavar (procession). The hunt began, and the villagers called the idol they found Malayappa, which means "King of the Hills". After these idols were brought to the temple, the number of programmes increased to include Nitya Kalyanaotsavam, Sahasra Deepalankara Seva, Arjita Brahmotsavam, Nityaotsvam, Dolotsavam, and others. Jewels worth millions of rupees have been donated as offerings to these idols.
- Bali Beram or Koluvu Srinivasa — This panchaloha idol resembles the main deity, and represents the presiding officer for all activities and rituals in the temple. The idol is also called Bali Beram. Koluvu Srinivasa is regarded as the guardian deity of the temple that presides over its financial and economic affairs. Daily offerings are made to the deity, with a presentation of accounts. Every year during July i.e. according to Hindu calendar "Dakshinaya Sankaramana" the temple celebrates "Anivar Asthanam" which is the end of the fiscal year.
The names ascribed to the main deity are Balaji, Srinivasa, Venkateswara, Edukondalavadu (Lord of seven hills in Telugu), "Aapadhamrokkuluvaadu" (Saviour of devotees during calamities in Telugu), Venkatachalapathy' 'or Venkataramana in Telugu, Malayappa (Father of hill in Tamil), Elumalaiyaan(Lord of seven hills in Tamil). The goddess Sri or Lakshmi (Vishnu's consort) resides on the chest of Venkateswara; thus, 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 "Naimisharanya" (north India), known as the Sri Vaikhanasa/ Adhi Vaikhanasas followers of Sri Vikanasa Muni.
For worshippers, the deity Venkateswara symbolises goodness. When people travel to Tirupati, they chant the mantra Ezhumalayanukku Govinda Govinda or Venkataramana Govinda (in Tamil),Yedukondalavada Venkataramana Govinda Govinda (in Telugu) or Om Namo Narayanaaya or Om Sri Venkatesaya Namah (in Sanskrit). Lord Venkateswara is believed by followers to be a very merciful form of Vishnu, being the fulfiller of every wish made to him by the devotees.
Several composers composed beautiful kirtanas about Lord Venkateswara, the most notable amongst them being Tyagaraja and Annamacharya, who composed mostly in Telugu. Annamacharya (1408–1503) was a legendary devotee of Lord Venkateswara and composed songs almost exclusively about the deity.
Lord Vishnu is worshiped in the Temple as per Vaikhanasa traditions. 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.
- 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
All the Aradhana is done by hereditary Vaikhanasa priests, who have performed the services for generations. Only these priests have the right to touch and offer services to the Lord. These set of Archakas are called Mirasidars (owners and shareholders of the temple). The four families of the Tirumala Temple which are in this Mirasi are the Gollapalli, Peddintti, Paidipalli, and Tirupathammagari family.
To assist the Archakas in temple work and rituals,other Vaikhanasa who don't belongs to this family & Jeeyar Mattam established by Ramanuja, would take care of the temple work. Currently Thridanda Ramanuja Chinna Jeeyar Swamy heads the Jeeyar Mattam established by Ramanuja.
This Temple bears on its walls several inscriptions which are of historical, cultural and linguistic importance. The number of inscriptions on the Hill Temple and in the temples of Lower Tirupati and Tiruchanur exceed one thousand and they furnish a continuous and authentic record of the transactions of the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams for over seven or eight centuries. There is evidence to suggest that many early inscriptions on the walls of the temples have disappeared beyond recovery due to restorations and renovations undertaken from time to time.
As many as 1060 inscriptions are found engraved on the walls of the temples under the management of the Devasthanam. They are published by the T.T. Devasthanams and are classified as follows:
- Sri Venkateswara's Temple, Tirumala: # of inscriptions: 640.
- Sri Govindaraja's Temple, Tirupati: # of inscriptions: 340.
- Other Temples: # of inscriptions: 80.
Additionally, in the temple, there is a unique collection of about 3000 copper plates on which the Telugu Sankirtanas of Tallapaka Annamacharya and his descendants are inscribed. This collection forms a valuable source of material for a historical linguist in Telugu apart from its importance to musicologists.
Under the patronage of almost all important dynasties of South India, this sacred Temple of Tirumala enjoyed full benefits and glory. The Pallavas, the Cholas, the Pandyas, Kadavarayas, Yadavarayas, Telugu Cholas, Telugu Pallavas, Vijayanagara kings (Sangama, Saluva and Tuluva lines) have left the marks of their patronage and endowments on the walls of the temples of Tirumala and Tirupati.
The world famous Tirupati Laddu is given at Tirumala Temple as prasadam. Recently, the Trust has taken Geographical Indication of Laddu prasadam, hence, no one can prepare the same Laddu. Many other prasadams are also available including daddojanam (curd rice), pulioharey (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 is conducted, where food items are kept as naivedyam to Lord Srinivasa..
Many devotees have their head tonsured as "Mokku", an offering to God. The daily amount of hair collected is over a ton. The hair thus gathered is sold by the temple organisation 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. This is the second highest income generating activity in the temple next to the Hundi Collection.
When Lord Balaji was hit on his head by a shepherd, a small portion of his scalp became bald. This was noticed by Neela Devi, a Gandharva princess. She felt "such an attractive face should not have a flaw". Immediately, she cut a portion of her hair and, with her magical power, implanted it on his scalp. Lord Balaji noticed her sacrifice. As hair is a beautiful asset of the female form, he promised her that all his devotees who come to his abode would offer 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 of the seven hills, is named after her.
Hundi (donation pot)
It 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 11.4 million (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. Temple sources said that in April 2010 the temple deposited 3,000 kg of gold with SBI as gold offerings in the temple hundi by devotees, which had accumulated for the last several years.
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 a limited fashion) 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.
The Seven Hills
The seven hills, also called Saptagiri, represent the Saptarishi (seven sages). They sometimes called the Sapathagiri. Hence 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. It is said to be birthplace 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 are located here
- Venkatadri – Hill of Lord Venkateswara
The town celebrates most Vaishnava festivals, including Vaikuntha Ekadasi, Rama Navami, and Janmashtami with great splendor, while the Brahmotsavam celebrated every year during September is the most important festival in Tirumala. The temple receives millions of devotees over the short span of a week. Other major festivals include Vasanthotsavam (spring festival), conducted in March–April, and Rathasapthami (Magha Shuddha Saptami), celebrated in February, when Lord Venkateswara's deity is taken on procession around the temple chariots.
The temple is considered one of the eight Sywayambu Kshetras of Vishnu where presiding deity is believed to have manifested on its own. Seven other temples in the line are Srirangam Ranganathaswamy temple, Bhu Varaha Swamy temple, and Vanamamalai Perumal Temple in South India and Saligrama, Naimisaranya, Pushkar and Badrinath Temple in North India.
The temple is revered in Nalayira Divya Prabandham, the 7th–9th century Vaishnava canon, by Azhwars. The Azhwars have sung praise on the different forms of Perumal. The temple is classified as a Divyadesam, one of the 108 Vishnu temples that are mentioned in the book. Many Acharyas have also written songs on the various forms of God in this Temple. The benefits acquired by a pilgrimage to Venkatachala are mentioned in the Rig Veda and Asthadasa Puranas. In these epics, Sri Venkateswara is described as the great bestower of boons. There are several legends associated with the manifestation of the Lord at Tirumala. The temple has its origins in Vaishnavism, an ancient sect which advocates the principles of equality and love, and prohibits animal sacrifice.
- 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 there. It is 38 kilometres (24 mi) from Tirupati, and is connected by frequent buses.
- Srinivasa Mangapuram is situated 12 kilometres (7.5 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 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 there. The temples of Sri Krishna Swamy and Sri Sundara Raja Swamy are also inside the complex. The temple is considered as a Shakti Peeth. Adi Parashakti, the Mother Goddess. The origin of Shakti Peethas is related to the mythology of Daksha Yaga and Sati's self immolation. It had immense significance in shaping the ancient Sanskrit literature and even had impact on the culture of India. It led to the development of the concept of Shakti Peethas and there by strengthening Shaktism.Shakti Peethas are shrines that are believes to have enshrined with the presence of Shakti due to the falling of body parts of the corpse of Sati Devi, when Lord Shiva carried it and wandered throughout Aryavartha in sorrow. There are 51 Shakti Peeth linking to the 51 alphabets in Sanskrit. Each temple have shrines for Shakti and Kalabhairava and mostly the each temple associates different names to Shakti and Kalabhairava in that temple.
- 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 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 there.
- "Sri Mallayana Perumala Swamy Devalayalam" is located at gajulamandyam village. From Tirupathi it is about 15 km. It was constructed before 500 years. According to the legend, Swami Venkateswara on his way to Tirumala met a maharshi named mandavya there.
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