Tirumala Venkateswara Temple

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Tirumala Venkateswara Temple
తిరుమల ఆలయం
Tirumala gopurams.JPG
Tirumala Venkateswara Templeతిరుమల ఆలయం is located in Andhra Pradesh
Tirumala Venkateswara Templeతిరుమల ఆలయం
Tirumala Venkateswara Temple
తిరుమల ఆలయం
Location in Andhra Pradesh
Proper name Sri Venkateswara Swamy vaari temple[1]
Telugu alphabet తిరుమల శ్రీ వేంకటేశ్వర స్వామి వారి ఆలయం
Coordinates 13°40′59.7″N 79°20′49.9″E / 13.683250°N 79.347194°E / 13.683250; 79.347194Coordinates: 13°40′59.7″N 79°20′49.9″E / 13.683250°N 79.347194°E / 13.683250; 79.347194
Country India
State Andhra Pradesh
District Chittoor
Locale Tirupati
Elevation 853 m (2,799 ft)
Primary deity Venkateswara
Festival deity Malayappa
Festival consort Lakshmi and Bhūmi
Direction and posture Standing and Facing east
Temple tank Swami Pushkarini
Shrine Ananda Nilayam
Appeared for saving Mankind from trails and troubles of Kali Yuga.[2]
Important festivals Brahmotsavam, Vaikunta Ekadasi, Ratha Saptami
Architectural styles Dravidian architecture
Number of temples 1
Inscriptions Sanskrit and Dravidian languages
History and governance
Date built Earliest records date to 300 BC (probable)
Temple board Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams
Website tirumala.org

Tirumala Venkateswara Temple is a famous temple in the hill town of Tirumala, near Tirupati in Chittoor district of Andhra Pradesh, India. 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.[3][4][5] 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.[6]

It is around 435 km (270 mi)[7] from Vijayawada, 571.9 km(355.3 mi) from Hyderabad, 138 km (86 mi)[8] from Chennai , 291 km (181 mi)[9] from Bangalore and 781.2 km(485.4 mi) from Visakhapatnam

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.[10] 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.

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.


Tirumala: Tiru means 'Holy' or 'Sacred' and mala means hills/ mountain in the Tamil language. Therefore, it translates as Holy mountains.[11][verification needed] In Sanskrit, Ven-kata-eswara means this: 'vem' = all the links with one's own sins, 'kata' = will be cut off in total to the one who surrenders to him, 'Eswara' = Supreme God.[12] Venkateswara: In Tamil , the meaning was given by Nammalwar(43rd Kali of 3059 BC-According to traditional scriptures)[13]) as, ‘kadangal ve:m’ kadangal=unavoidable debts like karmas, which soul carries along with it, will be, ve:m=burnt to ashes, when one who surrender to Him.[citation needed]

History of the temple[edit]

Medieval history[edit]

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. 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.[14] In 1517 Vijayanagara ruler Sri KrishnaDevaRaya, on one of his many visits to the temple, donated gold and jewels, enabling the Ananda Nilayam (inner shrine) roofing to be gilded. 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.[15] There is an idol of Raja Todar Mal who was the revenue minister of Akbar, greeting pilgrims in the premises of the temple.[citation needed]

Modern history[edit]

Swami Pushkarni of Tirumala

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 Government of India, integrating it as part of Andhra.

Temple today[edit]

Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams(TTD) is operated by a Board of Trustees that has increased in size from five (1951) to eighteen (2015)[16] 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.[17] The annual budget, estimated at INR 2530.10 Crores for the financial year 2015-16[18], runs charitable trusts whose funds are derived from the budget and donations from the devotees.[19] 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.[20]

Epigraphical records[edit]

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.[1]

Songs and hymns[edit]

Sri Venkateswara Suprabhatam is the first and pre-dawn seva performed to Lord Venkateswara at Sayana Mandapam inside sanctum sanctorum of Tirumala Temple. 'Suprabhatam' is a Sanskrit term which literally means ‘Good Morning’ and is meant to wake up the Lord from His celestial sleep.[21] Sri Venkateswara Suprabhatam hymns were composed by Prativadi Bhayankara Annan and consists of 70 slokas in four parts including Suprabhatam(29), Stotram(11), Prapatti(14) and Mangalasasanam(16). Suprabhata seva will be performed throughout the year except during Dhanurmasa during which Tiruppavai written by Andal is recited.[21] The first sloka of Sri venkateswara Suprabhatam is as follows:

कौसल्यासुप्रजा राम पूर्वा संध्या प्रवर्तते ।
उत्तिष्ठ नरशार्दूल कर्त्तव्यं दैवमाह्निकम् ॥

kausalyāsuprajā rāma pūrvā sandhyā pravartate ।
uttiṣṭha naraśārdūla karttavyaṃ daivamāhnikam ॥

The outpouring divine grace of Sri Venkateswara inspired Tallapaka Annamacharya to sing His glories in Telugu and in Sanskrit. Keertanas like 'Brahma Kadigina Paadamu' and 'Adivo Alladivo Sriharivaasamu' are popular even today. His keerthana, Jo achyutanada is sung every night to the Lord by his descendants. Annamayya Keerthanas(Songs) were also sung by his decendants at the first corridor of the sanctum sanctorum of Tirumala Temple, at the same time of Suprabhatam. ‘Muthyala harathi ‘ composed by Tarikonda Venkamamba in Telugu is still sung by her decendants to Lord Venkateswara during Ekantha Seva. 'Daasana Maadiko Enna', 'Nambide Ninna Paadava Venkataramana' composed by Purandaradasa in kannada and 'Tera Teeyagarada', 'Venkatesa! Ninnu Sevimpanu' composed by Tyagaraja in Telugu are worthy of mention. The temple had been praised in Divya Prabhandam, a collection of hymns in Tamil, in praise of Vishnu by 12 Alvars. Tiruppavai sung during Dhanurmasa is also a part of Divya Prabhandam. The songs like 'Srivenkatesam Manasa smarami', 'Sri Venkteswara Charitra Gaanamrutham' and 'Govinda Namalu'(108 names of Venkatesa) had gained more popularity which are in praise of Lord Venkateswara.


Maha Dwaram(Bronze Entrance)[22]

Maha Dwaram of Sri Venkateswara Temple with Five storied Gopuram over it encircled by Mahaprakaram

Maha Dwaram is the main entrance of the Temple. It provides access from outside of temple to Sampangi Pradakshinam which are seprated by outer compound wall(Maha Prakaram). A five storied gopuram(Temple Tower) of 50 feet was built on this entrance with seven Kalasams at its apex. It is also known as ‘Padikavali’ or ‘SimhaDwaram’. On either side of this entrance there are two panchaloha(metal) statues dedicated for Sankanidhi and Padmanidhi who are believed to be guardians of navanidhi(Treasures of Lord Venkateswara).

Sampangi Pradakshinam[22]

The area which circumambulates the outer and inner compound walls is called Sampangi Pradakshinam. In olden days Magnolia champaca Flowers (Telugu:Sampangi) were grown in this area hence it got the name Sampangi Pradakshinam. Sampangi Pradakshinam includes Krishnadevarayala Mandapam(Pratima Mandapam), Addala Mandapam, Ranganayaka Mandapam, Tirumalaraya Mandapam, Dwajasthambha Mandapam, Kalyanotsava Mandapam, Ugranam (Store house), Balipetam(Altar), Kshetra palaka sila, Tulabharam. It also includes idols of Vijayanagara Kings Sri Krishnadevarayalu and his two consorts, Tirumala Devi and Chinnadevi, Venkatapatirayalu, Lala khemaramu, Lala’s mother Mata Mohana Devi and Lala’s wife Pita Bibi. Dwajastambam- the golden flagstaff is found in between Maha dwaram and Vendi vakili in Dwajastambha mandapam. While entering or leavingInner sanctorum one has to encircumbulate Dwajastambam including Lord Venkateswara. During Sri Venkateswara Brahmotsavams the imprint of garuda is hoisted on this flagstaff inviting all Gods and Godesses to the festival. During the invasion of Srirangam by Malik Kafur in 1310–11 AD, the Ranganayaka Mandapam of the temple served as the shelter for the presiding deity of Srirangam, Ranganatha Swamy.

Vendi Vakili (Silver Entrance)[22]

Vendi Vakili is the second entrance of the temple which is provided through inner compound wall and leads to Vimana Pradakhinam. This entrance is also known as ‘Nadimipadikavali’. The inner compound wall separates Sampangi Pradakshinam and Vimana Pradakshinam. The doors of this entrance are plated with Silver and hence the name. A three storied Gopuram was built over this entrance eith seven kalisams during 12th and 13th centuries.

Vimana Pradakshinam[22]

Vendivakili leads to Vimana Pradakshinam. Vimana Pradakshinam is the area which circumambulates Ananda Nilayam Vimana Gopuram or Sanctum sanctorum or Main Shrine. Angapradakshina Seva will be performed in this area and hence this path is also called Anga pradakshina Margam. Just after entering the Vimana pradakshinam opposite to Vendivakili and behind the Garuda Mandapam there are small idols of Sri Varadaraja Swamy, Sri Ranganatha Swamu in sleeping posture over Adisesha and Sri Venkateswara Swamy plated in gold. Vimana Pradakshina includes small shrines dedicated to Varadaraja Swamy Temple to the right of Vendi vakili facing towards west and Yoga Narasimha Swamy Temple to the left of Vendi vakili also facing west. Other Rooms include Potu(main kitchen), Bangaru Bavi(golden well), Ankurarpana Mandapam, Yagasala, Nanala (coins and Notla (Paper notes) Parkamani, Almyrah of Sandal paste (Chandanapu ara), cell of records, Sannidhi Bhashyakarulu - the seat of Sri Ramanuja, Lords’s hundi and the seat of Vishvaksena. Devotees will have darshan of ‘Vimana Venkteswara Swamy’ residing on Ananda Nilayam from Sampangi Pradakshinam. All the small temples in this path way are called ‘Chutttu Gullu’(Sub-shrines encircling the main shrine).

Ananda Nilayam Vimanam

Tirumala Temple and Vaikuntam Queue Complex (semicircular building in the foreground) as seen from Srivari Padalu on Narayanagiri hill

The Ananda Nilayam 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.

Bangaru Vakili(Golden Entrance)

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.[23]

Garbha Gruham

A replica of Sanctum Sanctorum(Garba Griha) of Tirumala Venkateswara Temple depicting SriDevi BhuDevi Sametha Malayappa Swamy-Left, Lord Venkateswara Main Deity(Dhruva beram)-Center, Bhoga Srinivasa-Center bottom, Ugra Srinivasa, Sita Lakshmana Sametha Sri Rama, Sri Krishna, Rukhmini- Right

The Garbhagruha or sanctum sanctorum 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.[24]

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)).

Deities in the temple[edit]

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
    Malayappa swami along with his consorts Sridevi and Bhudevi during the annual Vasanthotsavam ceremony
  4. 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.
  5. 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.


Tirumala Temple entrance

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.

  1. UshaKala Aradhana — worship (or Aradhana) should start and finish before sunrise
  2. Prathakala Aradhana — worship should start after sunrise and finish before noon
  3. Madhyanika Aradhana — worship should start and finish at noon
  4. Aparahana Aradhana — worship should start when the sun starts to descend
  5. SandhyaKala Aradhana — worship should start and finish around the sunset
  6. 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.

Temple activities[edit]


The world famous Tirupati Laddu is given at Tirumala Temple as prasadam.[25] 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), puliohora (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 SriSrinivasa.

Hair tonsuring[edit]

Devotees shaving their heads at Tirumala Venkateswara Temple

Many devotees have their head tonsured as "Mokku", an offering to God. The daily amount of hair collected is over a ton.[26] 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,[27] bringing over $6 million to the temple's treasury.[28] 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)[edit]

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.[citation needed] 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.[3] 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.[29]


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)[edit]

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.[30]

Festivals or sevas[edit]

Elephants marching during a festival at Tirumala

Tirumala Sri Venkateswara Temple is a paradise of Festivals where over 433 festivals are being observed in 365 days of a year suiting the title "Nitya Kalyanam Paccha Toranam" where every day is a festival.[31]

Main article: Seva in Tirumala

Daily Sevas[edit]

The daily sevas in Temple(in order of occurrence) include Suprabhata Seva, Thomala Seva, Archana, Kalyanotsavam, Dolotsavam (Unjal Seva), Arjita Brahmotsavam, Arjita Vasantotsavam, Sahasra Dipalankarana Seva, Ekanta Seva

Weekly Sevas[edit]

Weekly sevas of the Temple include Vishesha Pooja on Monday, Ashtadala Pada Padmaradhana on Tuesday, Sahasra Kalasabhishekam on Wednesday, Tiruppavada Seva on Thursday, Abhishekam and Nijapada Darshanam on Friday. There are no weekly sevas on Saturday and Sunday.

Annual Sevas[edit]

Sri Venkateswara Brahmotsavams, a nine day event, which is celebrated every year during month of October, is the major event of Sri Venkateswara Temple. During brahmotsavams the processional deityMalayappa along with his concerts SriDevi and BhuDevi, is taken in a procession in four mada streets around the temple on different vahanams. Vahanams include Dwajarohanam, Pedda Sesha Vahanam, Chinna Sesha Vahanam, Hamsa Vahanam, Simha Vahanam, Muthaypu pandiri Vahanam, Kalpavriksha Vahanam, Sarava Bhoopala Vahanam, Mohini Avataram, Garuda Vahanam, Hanumantha Vahanam, Swarna Rathotsavam(Golden Chariot, Gajavahanam, Rathotsavam(Chariot), Ashwa Vahanam, Chakra Snanam. During Brahmotsavams, The temple will witness lakhs of devotees particulary on Garuda vahanam. Vaikunta Ekadasi, the day on which it is believed that Vaikunta Dwarams will be opened and the most important Vasihnavite festival, is celebrated with grandeur in Tirumala. The Tirumala Venkateswara Temple will be flooded with devotees on a single day with numbers reaching up to 1.5 lakhs, to have a darshan of Venkateswara through special entrance which encircles inner sanctum called "Vaikunta Dwaram".[32][33] Rathasapthami is another festival, celebrated during February, when Lord Venkateswara's processional deity(Malayappa) is taken in a procession around the temple on seven different vahanams starting from early morning to late night.[34] The other annual festivals include Rama Navami, Janmashtami , Ugadi, Teppotsavam(Float Festival), Sri Padmavati Pariyanotsavams, Pushpa yagam, Pushpa pallaki, Aaniwara Asthanam, Vasanthotsavam (spring festival) conducted in March–April, Jyesthabhishekam were celebrated with great splendor.

The Seven Hills[edit]

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:

Lord Anjaneya's magnificent statue in Tirumala
  • 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 are located here
  • Venkatadri – Hill of Lord Venkateswara

Notable Devotees[edit]


Ramanuja (1017–1137)[35][36] (Holy People of the World: A Cross-Cultural Encyclopedia)[37] born in a Tamil Brahmin family in the village of Sriperumbudur, Tamil Nadu.[38] was the architect of Tirupati and the father of the Sri Vaishnava community.[39] 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.


Statue of Pada-kavita Pitaamaha, Sri Tallapaka Annamacharya (or Annamayya) - official songmaster of the Tirumala Venkateswara Temple

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[40] (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[edit]

Tarikonda Venkamamba (born 1730) was a poetess and staunch devotee of Lord Venkateswara in the 18th century. She wrote numerous poems and songs in Telugu. 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.

Religious importance[edit]

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.[41]

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.


Civet Controversy[edit]

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. [42]

Nearby temples[edit]

  • 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.
Padmasarovaram and Sri Padmavathi Temple(background), Tiruchanur, Tirupati
  • Sri Padmavathi Ammavari Temple, Tiruchanur, 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.
  • 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.
  • "Soumyanatha Swami Temple", Soumyanatha Swami is another name and form of Lord Venkateswara in Nandalur Kadapa District

See also[edit]


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  2. ^ "Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams-Temple Legend". Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams. Retrieved 31 July 2015. 
  3. ^ a b "NDTV Report". Retrieved 13 September 2007. 
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  5. ^ Ramachandran, Nirmala (2004). The Hindu legacy to Sri Lanka. Pannapitiya: Stamford Lake (Pvt.) Ltd. 2004. ISBN 9789558733974. OCLC 230674424. Portuguese writer De Queyroz compares Konesvaram to the famous Hindu temples in Rameswaram, Kanchipuram, Tirupatti-Tirumalai, Jagannath and Vaijayanthi and concludes that while these latter temples were well visited by the Hindus, the former had surpassed all the latter temples by the early 1600s 
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  11. ^ Google Books. 
  12. ^ "Chinnajeeyar.org". 
  13. ^ M. Srinivasachariar (1974). History of Classical Sanskrit Literature: Being an Elaborate Account of All Branches of Classical Sanskrit Literature, with Full Epigraphical and Archaeological Notes and References, an Introduction Dealing with Language, Philology, and Chronology, and Index of Authors & Works. Motilal Banarsidass Publisher. pp. 278–. ISBN 978-81-208-0284-1. 
  14. ^ Dr. N.Ramesan (1981). The Tirumala Temple. Tirumala: Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams. 
  15. ^ "Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams: Temple History". Retrieved 15 July 2011. 
  16. ^ "New TTD Board Members to Take Oath on May 2". Retrieved 31 July 2015. 
  17. ^ Jatania, Prachi (2 November 2006). "Tirumala, the epicentre of faith". CNN-IBN. Retrieved 15 July 2011. 
  18. ^ "TTD approves annual budget for the year 2015-16". 
  19. ^ "Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams: Social Service". Retrieved 15 July 2011. 
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  21. ^ a b "Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams-Suprabhatam". Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams. Retrieved 29 July 2015. 
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  26. ^ Saritha Rai (14 July 2004). "A Religious Tangle Over the Hair of Pious Hindus". The New York Times. Retrieved 26 April 2009. 
  27. ^ Sandberg, Britta (19 February 2008). "Der Spiegel: Hindu Locks Keep Human Hair Trade Humming (19/02/2008)". Spiegel.de. Retrieved 17 June 2013. 
  28. ^ "Temple Hair Sale". BBC World Service. Retrieved 10 February 2013. 
  29. ^ "Times of India – TTD Deposits Gold with SBI". The Times of India. Retrieved 13 September 2007. 
  30. ^ "Stories location=Chennai, India". The Hindu. 23 November 2000. 
  31. ^ "Tirumala- The Paradise of Festivals". Retrieved 2015-06-07. 
  32. ^ "Pilgrims throng Tirumala". The Hindhu. Retrieved 21 June 2015. 
  33. ^ "Pilgrims throng Tirumala". Deccan Herrald. Retrieved 21 June 2015. 
  34. ^ "Rathasapthami photos". Archived from the original on 2009-10-27. 
  35. ^ Philosophers and Religious Leaders – Google Books. Books.google.co.in. Retrieved 17 June 2013. 
  36. ^ Holy People of the World: A Cross-Cultural Encyclopedia – Google Books. Books.google.co.in. Retrieved 17 June 2013. 
  37. ^ "Holy People of the World". google.co.in. 
  38. ^ "Philosophers and Religious Leaders". google.co.in. 
  39. ^ Philosophers and Religious Leaders – Google Books. Books.google.co.in. Retrieved 17 June 2013. 
  40. ^ "S. P. Sailaja keeps audience spellbound". The Hindu News. 28 February 2012. Retrieved 2 March 2013. 
  41. ^ S., Prabhu (10 May 2012). "Symbolising religious unity". The Hindu. Retrieved 13 October 2014. 
  42. ^ McHugh, James (April 1, 2012). "The Disputed Civets and the Complextion of the God: Secretions and History in India". Journal of the American Oriental Society (American Oriental Society) 132 (2): 245–273. 


External links[edit]