This temple is gloriously described by the Hindu scriptures as the earthly location where Lord Vishnu resides in the age of Kali. The Tirupati Balaji or Shree Venkateshwara Swami temple is one of the most pivotal landmarks of the Hindu mythology, holding a magnificent position in the Chittoor district of Andhra Pradesh.

Notably, Tirupati Balaji temple is the most popular temple on the earth today inviting the maximum number of devotes on any given day and attracting the largest amount of donations from them on a daily basis. Devotees pray the Lord to fulfill their wishes and upon their wishes getting fulfilled, it is a customary practice to offer their donations at the temple Hundi. In this manner lakhs of devotees pour into the temple to make their contributions.

Tirupati Balaji’s story

Some interesting stories from mythology say that the Lord manifested on the earth to bless the devotees during the age of Kali. Once, Sage Brighu wanted to evaluate who amongst the Holy Trinity was the greatest. When he checked with Lord Brahma and Lord Shiva, he was not satisfied, so he went to Vaikuntha and kicked Lord Vishnu on his chest. Goddess Lakshmi was residing in the chest of Lord Vishnu, she felt insulted and left Vaikuntha and came down to the Earth.

Lord Vishnu follows Mahalakshmi

Sad and dejected, Lord Vishnu came in search of his consort Mahalakshmi only to find that she had taken birth in the family of a king as Padmavati. The Lord entered an anthill and started meditating. Lord Shiva and Brahma came there as a cow and calf in search of the Lord. Shiva in the form of the cow poured its milk inside the anthill to feed the Lord on a daily basis. As per the divine plan, both Venkateshwara and Padmavati met each other and the gods approached the king to give his daughter in marriage to the Lord.

The unprecedented marriage

The lord received a huge sum of money from Kuber, the god of wealth to conduct a very grand marriage ceremony which was unprecedented. Following the marriage, the Lord stayed on the hills of Tirumala and a magnificent temple rose in the place. From then onwards, it is said the Lord is repaying the loan He received from Kuber in bits and pieces. It is said that the devotees make their contributions to help the Lord make his payments in a timely manner.

Hair donation at the Tirupati Balaji temple

It is an age old practice to donate their hair at the temple. To do this people of all ages make their prayers and shave their heads near the temple premises before having a darshan of the Lord. The temple management has built expansive facilities to help the people make their hair donations to the Lord.

The Sanctum Sanctorum

The place where Lord Sri Venkateswara’s self-manifested (Swayambu) statue is located in the Sanctum Sanctorum is called Ananda Nilayam. In the Ananda Nilayam, the beautiful idol of Bhoga Srinivasa Murthy is also present. During the morning ‘Suprabhata Seva’, this idol is removed and kept at the foot of the main deity. This signifies that the Bhoga Srinivasa Murthy acts as the presiding deity since the main deity is huge and can’t be moTirupati

The glory of the Tirupati Balaji temple

The Tirupati Balaji temple is rightly called the Bhuloka Vaikuntam – the abode of Vishnu on earth. Thus, it is believed that Lord Vishnu has manifested Himself in this temple during this Kali age to guide and direct His devotees towards salvation. It is said the main idol of Lord Venkateshwara is so unique and powerful. The charming idol has a number of miraculous characteristics that are amazing. On a daily basis, the idol is magnificently decorated with flowers dresses and ornaments. The temple has one of the massive stocks of golden ornaments used for decorating the Lord.

Tirupati Balaji temple construction

As far as the construction of the temple is concerned, King Thondaiman of Tondaimandalam kingdom constructed the precincts and the towering gateway (Gopuram) of the temple. He also made sure his subjects worshipped the Lord regularly.

The construction of the temple too has many legends associated with it. One such legend has it that Lord Vishnu appeared in King Thondaiman’s dream and asked him to construct the temple. The temple was later expanded by various kings and emperors who ruled over the place. Starting from 300 AD, the Tirupati Temple was built over a period of time. One of the earliest recorded evidences state the generosity of Pallava queen Samavai; she had donated precious jewels and 23 acres of land for celebrating the major festivals of the temple. During the Chola dynasty, the temple was developed further as many Chola Kings embellished it with riches. When the Vijayanagara Empire took over, diamonds and gold were donated to the temple. Krishnadevaraya, one of the famous Emperors of Vijayanagara, visited the temple on multiple occasions and contributed to the construction of the temple.

After the decline of the Vijayanagara Empire, the temple was patronised by several kings until the advent of the East India Company. When the British took over the temple, they leased it for various purposes to different tenants. The East India Company then bestowed the administration of the temple to the chief priest of Hathiramji Muth. The Hathiramji Muth administered the temple until 1933, after which the ‘Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam’ (TTD) took over the administration of the temple. In 1966, a court order transferred the administration of the temple to the government of Andhra Pradesh. This order was rolled back in 1979, when the administration of the temple was vested to the members of TTD. A committee, including a couple of members representing the government of Andhra Pradesh, was formed for running the day-to-day administration.

Architecture

Built in accordance with the Dravidian style of architecture, the temple has three entrances, which lead to the sanctum sanctorum. The first entrance is called as ‘Mahadwaram.’ A towering gateway (Gopuram), measuring 50 feet high, is placed right in front of the first entrance. The temple has two circumambulation paths. While the first path houses many pillared halls, flagstaffs and a dedicated area to distribute the offertories, the second path has many sub-shrines, main kitchen, main hundi and many other important edifices. Guest houses and various food counters have been recently constructed for the benefit of the pilgrims. A gold-plated tower inside the main shrine is called ‘Ananda Nilayam’ and is the most important part of the temple. The inner temple of ‘Ananda Nilayam’ houses the main deity and was constructed around the 12th Century A.D. It was later reconstructed throughout late the 1950s to 1960s. The temple also has a holy pond called Swami Pushkarni, located towards the northern side. Pushkarni, which covers a huge area of 1.5 acres, is one of the most sacred places of the temple. A legend has it that the pond was carried to the hills all the way from Vaikuntham (Lord Vishnu’s abode) by Garuda. Saluva King Narasimha Raya constructed a pillared hall at the center of the pond in 1468.

Festivals

The Tirupati Temple celebrates a staggering 433 festivals in a year, practically turning every day into a festival. Out of all those festivals, ‘Brahmotsavam’ is the most famous festival of Tirupati. ‘Brahmotsavam’ is celebrated in a grand style over a period of nine days. The festival attracts pilgrims and tourists from all over the country. According to a legend, Lord Brahma descends to earth every year in order to perform this festival and hence it is called ‘Brahmotsavam’ which literally translates to ‘the festival performed by Brahma’. Another important festival which is celebrated in the temple is called ‘Vaikunta Ekadashi.’ It is believed that the gates of heaven (Lord Vishnu’s abode) will remain open on this particular day. Hence the festival holds great significance. Other important festivals celebrated in the temple include ‘Rathasapthami’, ‘Rama Navami’, ‘Janmashtami’, ‘Vasanthotsavam’, ‘Pushpa yagam’ and ‘Teppotsavam.’

Significance

Sri Venkateswara Temple at Tirumala (Tirupati) is really significant to the Hindus from a religious point of view. Every year, the temple attracts tourists and devotees from all over the world. According to the legend, Sri Venkateswara is a benefactor of boons in the Dark Age (Kaliyuga), and people come here to seek the blessings of the Lord. Legend has it that the main deity of the temple has stood through epochs (Yugas). Since it is believed that Lord Vishnu turned Himself into stone in order to help mankind in the Dark Age, devotees often experience a state of bliss after visiting the temple. The temple also plays a vital role in the economy of the local people in general and the government of Andhra Pradesh in particular. Being the world’s richest temple, it creates job opportunities for thousands and is the only source of income to many.

Comparison

Daily Visited in Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams

No.Laddu are sold 300000
No. Pilgrims Visited 80000
Annaprasadam 284878
Kalyanakatta 25683
Special Entry Darshan Rs.300/- per pilgrim with two Laddus free

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