Tirumala Tirupati Venkateswara Temple
Tirumala, near Tirupati in the Chittoor district of Andhra Pradesh, India. It is around 150 km from Chennai,500 km from Hyderabad,and 250 km from BangaloreTirumala Venkateswara Temple is a Hindu temple in the hill town of The Tirumala Hills are 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 (Being presiding on the seventh peak of Tirupati Hill, Sri Venkateswara is also known as the Lord of the Seven Hills.), the seventh peak, and is also known as the “Temple of Seven Hills”.
Balaji and Venkatachalapati , is a form of the Hindu god Vishnu. Venkateswara means the Lord who destroys the sins of the people According to the Hindu scriptures, Vishnu, out of love towards his devotees, incarnated as Venkateswara and appeared for the salvation and upliftment of humanity in this Kali Yuga age. It is considered the supreme form of Vishnu in this age. The Venkateswara swami temple is also called Kaliyuga Vaikuntam.
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 .
This ancient temple is supposed to have been standing since ages. Comprised of ‘Gopuram’ (tower), the temple is a fine example of Dravidian style of architecture. There is a gilded cupola (Vimana) by the name of “the Ananda Nilayam” over the main shrine. The shrine comprises three enclosures, which are also known as ‘Prakarams’. The outmost enclosure comprises the ‘Dhvajastambha’ (banner post) and the other enclosures have many statues including statues of King Krishnadevraya and Todarmal (minister of Akbar). The striking idol of Sri Venkateswara / Balaji lies in the main sanctum sanctorum of the temple.
This temple is known for its construction according to “Vastu”. The temple is the richest pilgrimage center, after Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple in Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala, of any faith (at more than INR 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.
There is an interesting story behind that why people visit Tirupati. Venkateshwara took a loan of one crore and 14 lakh coins of gold from Kubera (God of Wealth) and had Viswakarma for the arrangement for marriage. And he agreed to repay the interest from the collections of temple at Tirupati, Andra Pradesh State, India. We don’t know how far the story is true. But, people have got much faith on Lord Balaji. It is believed the turning point will come in the life of a suffering person, if he visits this temple once. Many people visit the temple before doing something new.
Managed by Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam
The temple affairs are in the control of the TTD (Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam)and managed by TTD.The TTD has made adequate arrangements to provide services to the pilgrims and to maintain healthy environmental condition on the hills. Guest Houses and various food counters are maintained for the benefit of the pilgrims. On the way to the temple, amenities of toilets, shelters and drinking water have been made to facilitate the pilgrims, who come on foot to the temple.
Till date, the Balaji temple follows complex rituals and sermons of worship that were prescribed by Ramanuja Acharya in the 12th century. Every day, the program begins with ‘Suprabhatam’, which encompasses awakening of the Lord at 3’O clock in the morning. ‘Ekanta Seva’ is the last program, in which, the Lord is made to sleep at 1’O clock in the night.
As per the day and period, different ‘sevas’ (services) and ‘utsavams’ (festivals) are held in the shrine of the Lord. ‘Hundi’ is a donation box and this is the main source of temple’s income. Devotees offer donations as per their desire in these boxes that are kept at intervals in the temple. For the ease of the pilgrims, different ‘darshans’ including ‘Sarvadarshan’, ‘Special Darshan’ and ‘Sudarshanam’ are prearranged.
Laddu is the world famous prasadam given at Tirumala Temple.Recently the Trust has taken copy right of Laddu prasaddam, hence, no one can prepare the same Laddu. Many other prasadams are also available including daddojanam (curd rice), pulihora (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 occurs, where food items are kept for naivedyam to Lord Srinivasa.
Many devotees have their head tonsured as an offer. The daily amount of hair collected is over a ton. The hair thus gathered is sold by the temple organization a few times a year by public auction to international buyers for use as hair extensions and in cosmetics, bringing over $6 million to the temple’s treasury.(Hair tonsuring is a symbole having visited to Balaji Temple specialy in A P,Karnatka,Tamil Nadu, and Costal Maharashtra)
When Lord Balaji was hit on his head by a shepherd, a small portion of his scalp became bald. This is noticed by Neela Devi, a Gandharva princess. She feels “such an attractive face should not have a flaw”. Immediately she cuts a portion of herhair and with her magical power she implants it on his scalp.Lord Balaji notices her sacrifice. As hair is a beautiful aspect of the female, he promises her that, all his devotees who come to his abode should render 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 among seven hills is named after her.
it is the most important offering in this temple, 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.