Venkateswara Temple, Tirumala

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Sri Venkateswara Temple
శ్రీ వేంకటేశ్వర స్వామి వారి ఆలయం
Tirumala 090615.jpg
DeityVenkateswara (Vishnu)
FestivalsBrahmotsavam, Vaikunta Ekadasi, Ratha Saptami
Governing bodyTirumala Tirupati Devasthanams
StateAndhra Pradesh
Venkateswara Temple, Tirumala is located in Andhra Pradesh
Venkateswara Temple, Tirumala
Location in Andhra Pradesh
Geographic coordinates13°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
TypeDravidian architecture
CreatorVeera Narasingadeva Yadavaraya
Veera Rakshasa Yadavaraya
Ranganatha Yadavaraya[1]
InscriptionsKannada, Sanskrit, Tamil, Telugu[2]
Elevation853 m (2,799 ft)

Venkateswara Temple is a Hindu temple situated in the hill town of Tirumala at Tirupati in Chittoor district of Andhra Pradesh, India. The temple is dedicated to Venkateswara, a form of Vishnu, who is believed to have appeared here to save mankind from trials and troubles of Kali Yuga. Hence the place has also got the name Kaliyuga Vaikuntha and the Lord here is referred to as Kaliyuga Prathyaksha Daivam. The temple is also known by other names including Tirumala Temple, Tirupati Temple, Tirupati Balaji Temple. Venkateswara is known by many other names: Balaji, Govinda, and Srinivasa.[3] The temple is run by the body Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams (TTD) which is under direct control of the Andhra Pradesh Government, which also appoints the head of TTD and uses the revenue from the shrine.[4]

Tirumala Hills are part of the Seshachalam Hills range. The hills are 853 metres (2,799 ft) above sea level. The Hills comprise seven peaks, representing the seven heads of Adisesha. The temple lies on the seventh peak, Venkatadri, on the southern banks of Sri Swami Pushkarini, a holy water tank. Hence the temple is also referred to as the "Temple of Seven Hills". Tirumala town covers about 10.33 sq mi (26.75 km2) in area.[citation needed]

The temple is constructed in Tamil architecture. The first temple at Tirumala Tirupati was built by Tamil King Thondaiman, Tamil ruler of the ancient Thondaimandalam.[5][circular reference][6] He is said to have built the original Gopuram (tower) and the Prakhara in the 8th century[citation needed]. The Garbagruha (Sanctum Sanctorum) is called AnandaNilayam. The presiding deity, Venkateswara, is in standing posture and faces east in Garbha gruha. The temple follows Vaikhanasa Agama tradition of worship. The temple is one of the eight Vishnu Swayambhu Kshetras and is listed as 106th and the last earthly Divya Desam. The Temple premises had two modern Queue complex buildings to organise the pilgrim rush, Tarigonda Vengamamba Annaprasadam complex for free meals to Pilgrims, hair tonsure buildings and a number of pilgrim lodging sites.

It is the richest temple in the world in terms of donations received and wealth.[7][8][9] 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.[10] In 2016, it was reported that 27.3 million pilgrims visited the temple.[11]

There are several legends associated with the manifestation of the Lord in Tirumala. According to one legend, the temple has a murti (deity) of Venkateswara, which it is believed shall remain here for the entire duration of the present Kali Yuga.

Temple legend[edit]

During Dvapara Yuga, Adishesha resided on earth as the Seshachalam Hills after losing a contest with Vayu. According to Puranas, Tirumala is regarded as Adivaraha Kshetra. After killing Hiranyaksha, Varaha resided on this hill. Sri Venkatachala Mahatyam is the widely accepted legend over the Tirumala Temple.[12]

During Kali Yuga, Narada advised Rishis who were performing Yajna to decide who among the Trimurti's will be declared as the greatest God and thus can hold the fruits of the yagna. Bhrigu was sent to test Trimurtis. The sage who had an extra eye, representing ego, in the sole of his foot visited Brahma and Shiva and went unnoticed in both these locations. At last he visited Vishnu and the lord acted as if he had not noticed Bhrigu. Getting angered by this act, sage Bhrigu kicked Vishnu in the chest, to which Vishnu did not react and instead apologised to the Sage by massaging his feet. During this act, he squashed the extra eye that was present in the sole of Bhrigu's foot. However Lakshmi finds it as an insult to both Vishnu and herself as Lakshmi is said to reside in Vishnu's chest. By seeing Vishnu not stand up against Bhrigu and restore her pride and dignity, Lakshmi left Vaikunta and went on Earth to Kolhapur. During her stay at Kolhapur, Lakshmi defeated the demon Kolhasura and was referred to lovingly as Ambabai.[12] She became the Lakshmi idol at the Mahalakshmi Temple in Kolhapur.

Vishnu left Vaikunta, and bore a human form as Srinivasa who went in search of Lakshmi. Srinivasa, after searching for Lakshmi for a long time reached Tirumala Hills and started meditating. Lakshmi came to know about the condition of Srinivasa and prayed to Shiva and Brahma. Shiva and Brahma then converted themselves into Cow and Calf and Goddess Lakshmi had handed over the cow and calf to Chola king ruling over Tirumala Hills at that time. The Cow would provide milk to Srinivasa daily while it was taken for grazing. One day the cowherd saw this and tried to beat the Cow with staff but Srinivasa had borne the injury. Getting angered by this Srinivasa had cursed the Chola king to become a Demon as dharma says Servants sin should be borne by Kings. The king prayed for mercy after which Srinivasa said to him, that the King should take next birth as Akasharaja and should perform marriage of his daughter Padmavati with Vishnu as Srinivasa.[12]

Srinivasa, then traveled from the ant hill to Vakula Devi's ashram. During that travel, a Gandharva princess by the name of Neela saw Srinivasa. She noticed the scar of his forehead caused by the cowherd's axe and realized that a chunk of Srinivasa's hair was cut off due to it. Neela devi, having pity on Srinivasa and also to show her devotion towards Vishnu, chopped of her hair and magically attached it to Srinivasa's head on the place where his scar was. Srinivasa, sensing her true intentions and moved by her devotion, thanked her, changed her status to a goddess, and proclaimed that his devotees shall shave off their hair and donate it to her temple. Neela devi was grateful by hearing this. Vishnu blessed her and soon reached Vakula Devi's ashram.

Vakula Devi, whose previous life was none other than Yashoda, the foster mother of Krishna, earnestly waited for Srinivasa to become her child. In her previous life as Yashoda, she was not able to witness Krishna's wedding with Rukmini and his other queens and begged Krishna to allow her to see this. Krishna then told his foster mother that in her next life as Vakula Devi, he will come to her as Srinivasa and then she will be able to see the wedding. This was why Srinivasa was headed towards Vakula's ashram. After entering her ashram, he called out "Amma" or mother to Vakula Devi. Vakula Devi saw him and adopted him as her own son. Srinivasa acted as her vey own son and helped her when she need it.

On the other side, after being cursed by Srinivasa, the Chola king took rebirth as Akasaraja. He and his wife were childless and thus preformed a lowing ceremony to appease the Gods. During the ceremony, they hit a golden lotus, where in the middle situated a baby girl. Akasaraja named her as Padmavati as she was born in a golden lotus, which was found at present day Tiruchanur in Andhra Pradesh. Padmavathi was none other than Lakshmi, who after defeating Kholasura, decided to go along with Vishnu's leela and become born as the daughter of Akasaraja. Padmavati was soon educated and grew up to become to most beautiful princess.

One day, while Srinivasa was on a hunt, he noticed Padmavathi Devi and was smitten with love for her. Padmavathi at that time was playing with her friends whens suddenly an elephant arose and started chasing the princess. Padmavathi Devi ran towards Srinivasa and blindly fell into his arms, seeking protection. The elephant was none other than Ganesha, and after figuring out the true identity of the elephant, Srinivasa sent him away. Padmavathi and her friends questioned Srinivasa and his identity and Srinivasa did the same. Srinivasa asked for Padmavathi's hand in marriage, which infuriated her friends and they chased Srinivasa away, while smitten Padmavathi giggled at the situation. Srinivasa went back to Vakula Devi and told to her about his situation, to which Vakula replied that she will personally go to Akasaraja and ask that both he and Padmavathi get married. Srinivasa was afraid that the King will give the same reply to Vakula Devi as Padmavathi's friends. So, Srinivasa took the form of a female fortune teller and went to Akasaraja's palace. The Queen asked her to tell the fortune of her daughter, Padmavathi, to which the fotrune teller said yes. Srinivasa, in the form of the fortune teller, said that Padmavathi was to wed Vishnu who is now in the form of Srinivasa, and that a woman by the name of Vakula Devi will soon come to ask about this marriage. So when Vakula came to ask for the marriage of her son Srinivasa and Padmavathi, Akasaraja and the queen said yes to it.

The wedding commenced. Padmavathi was getting ready by her maidens who where none other than the wives of the Gods, including Saraswati, Parvati, Indrani, etc. Srinivasa on the other hand had trouble getting ready. Being that he was part of the Brahmin caste, he and his mother Vakula Devi were extremely poor. The great Gods, Shiva, Brahma, and Indra suggested that Srinivasa should pray to Kubera, the God of Wealth. Kubera answered the prayers of Srinivasa and donated a huge amount of money, jewellry, etc, for Srinivasa to great ready and to make his wedding a huge event. However, he needed the money back, to which Srinivasa replied that he will have the help of his devotees who will donate money to his temple and his wife to repay the loan. The contract was signed an was witnessed by Shiva, Brahma, and Indra. Srinvasa soon was ready and, along with the Gods and their wives, headed towards Akasarja's palace. His procession was huge and they all sang and danced their way towards the palace.Srinivasa married Padmavati at present day Narayanavanam in Andhra Pradesh and will return to Tirumala Hills. Padmavathi, who was none other than Lakshmi, after hearing the loan Srinivasa took to get ready, decided to help him pay it back by taking the form of Dhana Lakshmi, where she provided wealth and money to Srinivasa to help him pay the loan back. Srinivasa and Padmavathi lived many long years in Tirumala before returning back to Vaikuntha as Lakshmi Narayana. In the murti of Venkateshwara,it is said that Lakshmi as Padmavathi acquired one spot on his chest while the other spot is said to be acquired by Bhudevi, who is another wife of Vishnu as well as another incarnation of Lakshmi

There are many variations to this legend. Another popular version is that Padmavathi is not Lakshmi but a reincarnation of Vedavati, and thus is separate from Lakshmi. In this version, after few months from the wedding of Srinivasa and Padmavati (who in this version is Vedavati), Goddess Lakshmi had come to know about the marriage and went to Tirumala hills to question Srinivasa. It is said that the Srinivasa turns into Stone right when he was encountered by Lakshmi and Padmavathi. Brahma and Shiva appear before the confused queens and explain the main purpose behind all this - The Lord's desire to be on the 7 hills for the emancipation of mankind from the perpetual troubles of Kali Yuga. Goddesses Lakshmi and Padmavathi also turn into stone deities expressing their wish to be with their husband always. Lakshmi stays with Him on His Chest on the left side while Padmavathi rests on His Chest's right side.[12]

History of the temple[edit]

Medieval history[edit]

The first recorded endowment was made by Pallava queen Samavai in the year 966 CE. She donated many jewels and two parcels of land (one 10 acres and other 13 acres) and ordered to use the revenues generated from that land to be used for the celebration of major festivals in the temple.[13] The Pallava dynasty (9th century), the Chola dynasty (10th century), and Vijayanagara pradhans (14th and 15th centuries) were committed devotees of Venkateswara. The temple gained most of its current wealth and size under the Vijayanagara Empire, with the donation of diamonds and gold.[14] In 1517, Vijayanagara Emperor Krishnadevaraya, on one of his many visits to the temple, donated gold and jewels, enabling the Ananda Nilayam (inner shrine) roofing to be gilded. On 2 January 1517, Krishnadevaraya installed his own statue in the temple and he has made several donations to the temple.[15] After the decline of Vijayanagara Empire, leaders from states such as the Kingdom of Mysore and the Gadwal Samsthanam 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.[citation needed][16] Between 1320 CA and 1369 CA, idols of Ranganatha temple of Srirangapatnam were kept in this temple for safe keeping.[15]

Modern history[edit]

Swami Pushkarni of Tirumala

After the dusk of Vijayanagara Empire, the temple went into the hands of Golconda in July 1656 and then it was under the French for a short period of time and under Nawab of Carnatic till 1801 CE. With the advent of British during the early 19th century, the management of the temple passed to hands of East India Company, who accorded special status to temple and avoided interference in temple activities.[17] Madras government passed Regulation seven of 1817, which passed the temple to Board of Revenue through collector of North Arcot District.[17] In 1821, Bruce of England had drawn rules for the management of Temple which is referred to as Bruce's Code.[17] The 7th Nizam of Hyderabad, Mir Osman Ali Khan donated 8,000 to the temple.[18]

In 1843 the East India Company transferred the Administration of Temple along with other Temples in Tirupati to Mahants of Hathiramji Muth, who acted as Vicaranakartas. It was under the rule of Mahants for six generations until 1933 when Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams was formed as a result of the TTD Act in 1933.[19] The Act of 1933 was superseded by Madras Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowment Act of 1951.[20] Again in 1966, the temple was placed under direct control of Andhra pradesh State Endowments Department, with Andhra Pradesh Charitable and Hindu Religious Institutions and Endowments act.[20] In 1979, act of 1966 was rolled back with new Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams act, where temple administration was vested to a committee consisting of Executive officer, Chairman and two other members nominated by Government of Andhra Pradesh.[20]

The temple bears as many as 640 inscriptions in Kannada, Sanskrit, Tamil, Telugu languages.[21] There is a unique collection of about 3000 copper plates on which the Telugu Sankirtanas of Tallapaka Annamacharya and his descendants are inscribed.[22][23] This collection forms a valuable source of material for a historical linguist in Telugu apart from its importance to musicologists.[23]

In 2006, The Andhra Pradesh government decided to build a church on sacred Tirumala hills and declared only two of seven hills of Tirumala are of Hindu worship and the rest can be used by the state for its use under the rule of Y.S Rajasekhara Reddy, who was a Christian. This resulted in heavy protests all over Andhra Pradesh. Finally, the court declared that all the area of 7 sacred hills are to be administered by Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams.[24]

Temple administration[edit]

Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams (TTD) is the trust board which oversees and manages the operations of Tirumala Venkateswara Temple. It is operated by a Board of Trustees that has increased in size from five (1951) to eighteen (2015)[25] 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.[26] The annual budget, estimated at INR 2530.10 Crores for the financial year 2015–16,[27] runs charitable trusts whose funds are derived from the budget and donations from the devotees.[28] 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.[29]


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

Dwarams and Prakarams[edit]

There are three Dwarams (entrances) that lead to Garbhagriha from outside. Mahadwaram also known as padikavali is the first entrance which is provided through Mahaprakaram (outer compound wall). A 50 feet, five-storied Gopuram (Temple tower) is constructed over this Mahadwaram with seven Kalasams at its apex. Vendivakili (Silver Entrance), also known as Nadimipadikavali, is the second entrance and is provided through SampangiPrakaram (Inner compound wall). A three-storied Gopuram is constructed over Vendivakili with seven Kalasams at its apex. Bangaruvakili (Golden Entrance) is the third entrance which will lead into Garbhagriha. There are two tall copper images of the Dvarapalakas Jaya-Vijaya on either side of this door. The thick wooden door is covered with gold gilt plates depicting the Dasavathaaram of Vishnu.


Circumambulation around Sanctum sanctorum in the temple or deities is called Pradakshinam. There are two circumambulation paths in the temple. The first one is the area between Mahaprakaram and sampangiprakaram. This path known as Sampangipradakshinam has many Mandapas, Dwajasthambam, Balipeetam, Kshetrapalika sila, prasadam distribution area etc. The Vimanapradakhinam is the second pradakshinam, which circumambulates Ananda Nilayam Vimanam. This path has sub-shrines dedicated to Varadaraja and Yoga Narasimha, 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, Lords's hundi and the seat of Vishvaksena.

Anandanilayam vimanam and Garbhagriha[edit]

King Thondama laid the foundation at this place before the commencement of construction of Ananda Nilaya Gopuram and other associated works. TTDTempleHistory

Garbhagriha is the Sanctum sanctorum where the presiding deity Venkateswara resides along with other small deities. Golden Entrance leads to Garbhagriha. There are two more doors in between Bangaruvakili and Garbhagriha. The deity will be in a standing posture with four hands, one in varada posture, one placed over the thigh and other two holding Shanka and Sudarshana Chakra. The deity is decorated with precious ornaments. The deity bears Goddess Lakshmi on the right chest and Goddess Padmavathi on the left. Pilgrims are not allowed to enter the Garbhagriha (beyond Kulasekharapadi (path)).

Ananda Nilayam Vimanam is the main Gopuram constructed over 'Garbhagriha. This is a three-storied Gopuram and has single Kalasam at its apex. It was covered with gilt copper plates and covered a golden vase. There are many deities of gods carved over this Gopuram. On this Gopuram, Venkateswara's deity is known as "Vimana Venkateswara," which is believed to be a replica of the deity inside. Garbhagriha. [check quotation syntax]

Deities in the temple[edit]

Venkateswara, an avatar of Vishnu is the presiding deity of the temple. It is believed that the Moolavirat is Swayambhu (self manifested).[30]

A replica of the Garbhagriha of the Venkateswara Temple depicting Left- Sridevi-Bhudevi, Malayappa Swamy, Center- Lord Venkateswara Main Deity (Dhruva Bēram),Center bottom- Bhoga Srinivasa, Right- Ugra Srinivasa, Sita, Lakshmana Sri Rama, Krishna, Rukmini.

Pancha berams[edit]

As per Vaikanasa agamas, Venkateswara is represented by five deities (berams) including the Moolavirat which are together referred to as Pancha beramulu (Pancha means five; Beram means Deity).[31] The five deities are Dhruva Beram (Moolavar), Kautuka Beram, Snapana Beram, Utsava Beram, Bali Beram. All the pancha berams are placed in the Garbha griha under Ananda Nilayam Vimanam.[31]

  1. Moolavirat or Dhruva Beram- In the centre of Garbha griha, under the Ananda Nilayam Vimana, the Moolavirat of Venkateswara is seen in standing posture on lotus base, with four arms, two holding Shanka and Chakra and one in Varada posture and other in Kati posture. This deity is considered the main source of energy for the temple and adorns with Namam and jewels including vajra kiritam (diamond crown), Makarakundalams, Nagabharanam, Makara Kanti, Saligrama haram, Lakshmi haram.[31] Venkateswara's consort, Lakshmi will be staying on the chest of the Moolavirat as Vyuha Lakshmi.
  2. Bhoga Srinivasa or Kautuka Beram -- This is a small one-foot (0.3 m) silver deity which was given to the temple in 614 AD by Pallava Queen Samavai for conducting festivals. Bhoga Srinivasa is always placed near the left foot of Moolavirat and is always connected to the main deity by a holy Sambandha Kroocha. This deity will receive many daily sevas (pleasures) on behalf of Moolavar and hence known as Bhoga Srinivasa (In Telugu: Bhoga means Pleasure). This deity receives Ekanthaseva daily[32] and SahasraKalasabhisheka on Wednesdays.
  3. Ugra Srinivasa or Snapana Beram - This deity represents the fearsome (Telugu: Ugra means angry) aspect of Venkateswara.[33][34] This deity was the main processional deity until 1330 CE when it was replaced by Malayappa swami deity.[31] Ugra Srinivasa remains inside the sanctum sanctorum and comes out on a procession only one day in a year: on Kaishika Dwadasi, before the sunrise.[34][33] This deity receives daily abhishekam on behalf of Moolavirat, giving the name Snapana Beram (Sanskrit: Snapana means cleansing).
  4. Malayappa swamy or Utsava Beram - Malayappa is the processional deity (Utsava beram) of the Temple and is always flanked by the deities of his consorts Sridevi and Bhudevi. This deity receives all festivals like Brahmotsavams,Kalyanotsavam, Dolotsavam, Vasanthotsavam, Sahasra deepalankarana seva, Padmavati parinyotsavams, pushpapallaki, Anivara asthanam, Ugadi asthanam etc.
  5. Koluvu Srinivasa or Bali Beram- Koluvu Srinivasa represents Bali Beram. Koluvu Srinivasa is regarded as the guardian deity of the temple that presides over its financial and economic affairs. Daily Koluvu seva (Telugu: Koluvu means engaged in) will be held in the morning, during which, the previous day's offerings, income, expenditures are notified to this deity, with a presentation of accounts. Panchanga sravanam also will be held at the same time during which that particular days Tithi, sunrise and sunset time, nakshatra are notified to the Venkateswara.

Other Murtis[edit]

Along with Pancha berams, garbha griha also hosts panchaloha deities of Sita, Rama, Lakshmana, Rukmini, Krishna,[32] Chakratalvaar. The temple hosts the deities of Garuda, Narasimha, Varadaraja, Kubera, Hanuman in their respective sub-shrines. The temple also host the deities of Anantha, Garuda, Viswaksena, Sugriva, Ramanuja. Vimana Venkateswara is the exact replica icon of Venkateswara carved on the Ananda Nilayam Viamana's second tier north west corner.[31]



The temple follows "Vaikhanasa Agama" tradition of worship,[35] which is believed to be revealed by Sage Vikhanasa[36][37] and is propagated by his disciples Atri, Bhrigu, Marichi, Kasyapa.[36][38] Vaikhanasa is one of the principal traditions of Hinduism and primarily worships Vishnu (and his associated Avatars) as the Supreme God. This ancient texts recommends six times puja (worship) a day for Vishnu, of which minimum one puja is mandatory.[39] Rituals are classified as daily, weekly and periodical. 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 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. Periodical rituals include Jyesthabhishekam, Aaniwara Asthanam, Pavithrotsavam, Koil Alwar Tirumanjanam.


Laddu offered to Venkateswara at Venkateswara Temple, Tirumala

The world-famous "Tirupati Laddu" is given at Tirumala Temple as prasadam.[40] Tirupati Laddu had got Geographical indication tag which entitles only Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams to make or sell it.[41][42] Many other prasadams are also offered to Venkateswara and they are classified as Anna-prasadams and Panyarams.[43] Annaprasadams include chakerapongal (sweet), Pulihora (tamarind rice), miryala pongal, kadambham, daddojanam (curd rice).[44] Panyarams include laddu, vada, Dosa, Appam, jilebi, muruku, poli, payasam.[44] Free meals are given daily to the pilgrims. On Thursdays, the Tiruppavada seva is conducted, where huge quantity of pulihora is offered to Venkateswara by heaping up into a pyramidal shape in Tirummani mandapam (ghanta mandapam).[44]


More than 50,000 to 100,000 pilgrims have Darshan of presiding deity, Venkateswara, while on special occasions and festivals, like the annual Brahmotsavams, the number of pilgrims visiting the temple shoots up to 500,000, making it the most-visited holy place in the world.[10] To manage the huge number of Devotees visiting the temple, Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam constructed two Vaikuntam Queue Complexes: one in the year 1983 and the other in the year 2000. Vaikuntam Queue complexes have rooms where Devotees can sit and wait until their turn for Darshan. According to tradition, it is important for a devotee to have darshan of Bhuvaraha swamy temple lying on the northern banks of Swami Pushkarini before having Darshan of Venkateswara in the main temple.[45]

Recently, the administration introduced a separate queue for pedestrian pilgrims. Free but limited number of biometric tokens are issued for the pilgrims to access this special queue. Tokens are provided on a first-come, first-served basis. The pilgrims can worship Venkateswara on the allotted time slots issued in the token. There are two entry points for the foot-path pilgrims: Alipiri Mettu and Srivari Mettu. Alipiri Mettu is open round the clock, whereas Srivari Mettu is open from 6am - 6pm.[46]

Hair tonsuring[edit]

Many devotees have their head tonsured as "Mokku", an offering to God. The daily amount of hair collected is over a ton. The hair is collected and is sold internationally creating a substantial profit for the temple.[47] As per legend, when Venkateswara was hit on his head by a cowherd, a small portion of his scalp became bald. This was noticed by Neela Devi, a Gandharva princess. Immediately, she cut a portion of her hair and, with her magic, implanted it on his scalp.[48] Venkateswara 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.[citation needed] Traditionally the barbers employed to do the tonsuring were male and from the Nayee caste and this caused some discrimination and failed to resolve the requests from women that they would like a female barber.[49] A protest led by Kagganapalli Radha Devi overturned the objections and temple agreed to appoint women barbers. Devi was recognised by Andhra Pradesh in 2017 and with an award of the Nari Shakti Puraskar by the President of India in 2019.[49]

Hundi (donation pot)[edit]

As per legend, it is believed that Srinivasa had to make arrangements for his wedding. Kubera credited money to Venkateswara (a form of the god Vishnu) for his marriage with Padmavathi. 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 Padmavathi lived for all eternity while Goddess Lakshmi, understanding the commitments of 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.[7][50]


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.[51]


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.[52]

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 deity Malayappa along with his consorts 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, Sarva Bhoopala Vahanam, Mohini Avataram, Garuda Vahanam, Hanumantha Vahanam, Swarna Rathotsavam (Golden Chariot), Gajavahanam, Rathotsavam (Chariot), Ashwa Vahanam, and Chakra Snanam. During Brahmotsavams, the temple will witness lakhs of devotees particularly 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 150,000, to have a darshan of Venkateswara through special entrance which encircles inner sanctum called "Vaikunta Dwaram".[53][54] Rathasapthami is another festival, celebrated during February, when Venkateswara's processional deity (Malayappa) is taken in a procession around the temple on seven different vahanams starting from early morning to late night.[55] The other annual festivals include Rama Navami, Janmashtami, Ugadi, Teppotsavam (Float Festival), Sri Padmavati Parinayotsavams, Pushpa yagam, Pushpa pallaki, Vasanthotsavam (spring festival) conducted in March–April, were celebrated with great splendor.

Songs and hymns[edit]

Sri Venkateswara Suprabhatam is the first and pre-dawn seva performed to 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.[56][57] Sri Venkateswara Suprabhatam hymns were composed by Prathivadhi Bhayankaram Annangaracharya during 13th century and consists of 70 slokas in four parts including Suprabhatam(29), Stotram(11), Prapatti(14) and Mangalasasanam(16).[57][56] The thirteenth sloka of Sri venkateswara Suprabhatam is as follows:[56]

One with Lakshmi! One who grants boons! Friend of all the worlds! Abode of Sri Lakshmi! The matchless ocean of compassion! One having a charming form on account of the chest which is the abode of Sri Lakshmi! Lord of Venkatachala! May it be an auspicious dawn to Thee. ॥ 13 ॥

Tallapaka Annamacharya (Annamayya), the poet saint[58] of 14th century, one of the greatest Telugu poets and a great devotee of Venkateswara, had sung 32000 songs in praise of Venkateswara.[59][58] All his songs which are in Telugu and Sanskrit, are referred to as Sankirtanas and are classified as Sringara Sankirtanalu and Adhyatma Sankirtanalu.[58]

The Seven Hills[edit]

The temple is located on seven hills.[60] The presiding deity is also referred to as Sapthagirisha[60] or Lord of Seven hills.[61] It is believed that seven hills, also referred to as Saptagiri, represent the seven hoods of Adisesha. The seven hills are as follows:[60]

A magnificent statue of Hanuman in Tirumala
  • Vrushabhadri—Hill of Nandi, the vahana of Shiva and Incarnation of Vishnu
  • Anjanadri—Hill of Hanuman.
  • Neeladri—Hill of Neela Devi
  • Garudadri or Garudachalam—Hill of Garuda, the vahana of Vishnu
  • Seshadri or Seshachalam—Hill of Sesha, the dasa of Vishnu
  • Narayanadri—Hill of Narayana. Srivari Padalu are located here
  • Venkatadri—Hill of Venkateswara


Varadaraja Temple

There is a small shrine dedicated to Varadaraja located in Vimana-pradakshinam, towards left of Vendivakili (silver entrance) while entering temple.[62] It is not known when this deity was installed. The stone deity[62] is sitting posture facing west.

Yoga Narasimha Temple

A shrine is dedicated to Narasimha in North-east corner of the Vimana-Pradakshina.[63] The shrine is said to have been built between 1330 A.D. – 1360 A.D.[citation needed] The Yoga-Narasimha is seen sitting in cross-legged posture bound by yoga patta and holding Shankha and chakra in upper two hands and two lower hands in yoga mudra.[63]

Garuthmantha Temple

A small shrine dedicated to Garuda the vehicle of Venkateswara is situated exactly opposite to the Bangaruvakili (Golden Entrance) of Jaya-Vijaya. This sub-shrine is part of Garudamandapam. The Garuthmantha deity is six feet tall and faces west looking towards Venkateswara inside Garbhagriha.

Bhuvaraha Swamy Temple

Bhuvaraha Swamy Temple is the temple dedicated to Varaha an incarnation of Vishnu. This temple is believed to be older than Sri Venkateswara Temple. The temple lies on the Northern Banks of Swami Pushkarini. As per tradition, at first Naivedyam will be offered to Bhuvaraha Swamy before offering it to Venkateswara in main Temple. And also as per tradition, devotees should have the darshan of Bhuvaraha swamy before Venkateswara.

Bedi-Anjaneya Temple

Bedi-Anjaneya Temple is the sub-shrine dedicated to Hanuman. The temple lies exactly opposite to the Mahadwaram near Akhilandam (place where coconuts are offered). The deity in this temple has both of his hands handcuffed (Telugu Language:Bedilu).

Vakulamatha Sannidhi

Vakulamatha is the mother of Venkateswara. There is statue dedicated to her in the main temple just ahead of Varadaraja shrine. The deity is in sitting posture. As per legend, she supervises the preparation of food that is to be offered to her son. For this reason a hole is made to the wall which separates Vakulamatha sannidhi and Srivari potu(Kitchen).

Kubera Sannidi

There is a sub-shrine dedicated to Kubera within the Vimanapradakshina. The deity lies to the right side of Garbhagriha and faces south towards preciding deity.

Ramanuja Shrine

The Shrine of Sri Ramanuja is located adjacent to the northern corridor of the Vimana Pradakshinam. It is also known as the Bhashyakara Sannidhi. The shrine was built around in the 13th century A.D.

Notable devotees[edit]

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

Ramanuja (1017–1137)[64] the most important Acharya of Sri Vaishnavism.[64] was responsible for managing the worshipping procedures and other affairs of the Sri Venkateswara temple. He is credited for gifting the holy conch and the discus, the weapons of Vishnu during his visit. So he is considered as 'Acharya' (guru or teacher) to the himself.[65][66] He established the Pedda Jeeyar Matam. He has a sannidhi(shrine) inside the temple.

Sri Tallapaka Annamacharya (or Annamayya) (22 May 1408 – 4 April 1503) was the official songmaster of the Tirumala Venkateswara Temple, and a Telugu composer who composed around 36,000 keertanas,[67] many of which were in praise of Venkateswara, the presiding deity of the temple.

Hathiram Bhavaji was a saint from Ayodhya who visited Tirumala around 1500 CE[68] on a pilgrimage and became a devotee of Venkateswara.[69][70]

Religious significance[edit]

The temple is considered one of the eight Swayambhu 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 in Nepal, Naimisaranya, Pushkar and Badrinath Temple in North India.[71]

The temple is revered by Alvars in Divya Prabandham. The temple is classified as a Divyadesam, one of the 108 Vishnu temples that are mentioned in these books. 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 at Tirumala.

Nearby temples[edit]

There are many ancient temples nearby Tirumala. Sri Padamavathi Temple is temple dedicated to Padmavathi, the wife of Venkateswara, situated at Tiruchanur which is 5 km from Tirupati. Srikalahasteeswara Temple is the temple dedicated to Shiva which represents "Vayu" (air) form of elements of Nature, is situated at Srikalahasti which is 38 km from Tirupati. Sri Varasiddhi Vinayaka Temple, situated at Kanipakam town, is a 10th-century Temple dedicated to Vinayaka at 75 km from Tirupati. Other than these, temples like Govindaraja Temple, Kalyana Venkateswara Temple(Srinivasa Mangapuram), Kodandarama Temple, Kapila Theertham are situated within the Tirupati city.

See also[edit]


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General references[edit]

External links[edit]