Tirumala Venkateswara Temple is a Hindu temple in the hill town of Tirumala, near Tirupati in the Chittoor district of Andhra Pradesh. It is around 600 km (370 mi) from Hyderabad, 138 km (86 mi) from Chennai and 291 km (181 mi) from Bangalore.
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, a form of the Hindu god 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 the richest pilgrimage center, after the Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple in Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala, of any faith (at more than 50,000 crore) 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.
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The Garbha Griha or sanctum is where the idol of Lord Sri Venkateswara is placed. The idol stands majestically in the Garbha Griha, directly beneath a gilt-dome called the "Ananda Nilaya Divya Vimana".
View Larger Map Garbha Griha
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 patchs of tilak drawn with refined camphor, almost covers the eyes of the idol. In between the two white patches is a Kasturitilakam.
Golden makara kundalas hang to the ears of the idol. The palm of its raised right hand is embedded with a gem-set Sudershana Chakra, and the left palm with the Holy Cone. The slightly outstretched front right hand, has its fingers pointing toward the feet, as if 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 Umbilical Chord flowing down, cross from the left shoulder. It bears Goddess Lakshmi on the right chest and Sri Padmavathi Devi on the left. Nagaabharanam ornaments are on both of the idol's shoulders.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
- Moolavirat or Dhruva Beram — The main stone deity of Lord Venkateshwara 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 Venkateshwara. 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
- 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.
Tirumala Temple entranceThe names ascribed to the main deity are Balaji, Srinivasa, Venkateswara,Edukondalavadu(Lord of seven hills in Telugu) and Venkatachalapathyor Venkataramana. 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 of "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 Yedu Kondala Vada 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