The word Tirupati means the Lord of Lakshmi and the word Tirumala means Abode of Lakshmi. Tiru means Lakshmi, Pati means husband or king, and Mala means hill. Within Vaishnava tradition the temple is considered as one of the 108 most sacred temples throughout India, collectively known as 'Tirupathis'. Tirupati town is 67-km from Chittoor in Chittoor district, the southern portion of Andhra Pradesh. The most important place of interest at the place is the historic shrine of Sri Venkateswara, the Lord of Seven Hills, who is famous all over the country.
Tirupati - A Fine Example Of Dravidian Temple Architecture The temple at Tirumala is believed to have existed from ancient times. The dynasties like the Pallavas of Kanchipuram, the Cholas of Tanjore, the Pandyas of Madurai and the Kings and chiefs of Vijayanagara, vied with one another in endowing the Shrine and offering worship of the presiding deity. The Tirupati temple with its 'gopuram' or tower is a fine example of Dravidian architecture.
The legends taken from the Venkatachala Mahatmya and the Varaha Purana, pertaining to the manifestation of the Lord at Tirumala, are of particular interest. According to the Varaha Purana, Adi Varaha manifested Himself on the western bank of the Swami Pushkarini, while Vishnu in the form of Venkateswara came to reside on the southern bank of the Swami Pushkarini. One day, Rangadasa, a staunch devotee of Vishnu, in the course of his pilgrimage, joined Vaikhanasa Gopinatha, who was going up the Tirumala Hill for the daily worship of Lord Venkateswara. After bathing in the Swami Pushkarini, he beheld the lotus-eyed and blue-bodied Vishnu beneath a tamarind tree. Vishnu was exposed to the sun, wind and rain and was only protected by the extended wings of Garuda. Rangadasa was astounded by the wonderful sight. He raised a rough wall of stones around the deity, and started supplying flowers faithfully to Gopinatha everyday for Vishnu's worship. One day, Rangadasa was distracted by a Gandharva king and his ladies. Consequently, he forgot to supply flowers to Gopinatha for Vishnu's worship. The Lord then revealed Himself and told Rangadasa that He had been testing the latter's continence, but Rangadasa had not been steadfast and had succumbed to temptation.
However, the Lord accepted and appreciated Rangadasa's devoted service to Him till then, and blessed Rangadasa that he would be reborn as an affluent ruler of a province and would enjoy the earthly pleasures. He would continue to serve the Lord, construct a beautiful temple with a vimana and high surrounding walls, and thereby earn eternal glory. Rangadasa was reborn as Tondaman, the son of the royal couple, Suvira and Nandini. Tondaman enjoyed a pleasurable life as a young man. One day, he set out on a hunting expedition on the Tirumala Hill, and with the help of a forester, saw Vishnu under the tamarind tree. Tondaman returned home, deeply affected by the vision of Vishnu. Tondaman later inherited his father's kingdom, Tondamandalam. In accordance with the directions given by Adi Varaha to a forester, Tondaman constructed a prakaram and dvara gopura, and arranged for regular worship of the Lord (according to Vaikhanasa Agama).
In the Kali Yuga, Akasaraja came to rule over Tondamandalam. His daughter Padmavathi was married to Venkateswara. The marriage, officiated by Brahma, was celebrated with great pomp and splendour. All the great dynasties of rulers of the southern peninsula have paid homage to Lord Sri Venkateswara in this ancient shrine. The Pallavas of Kancheepuram (9th century AD), the Cholas of Thanjavur (a century later), the Pandyas of Madurai, and the kings and chieftains of Vijayanagar (14th - 15th century AD) were devotees of the Lord and they competed with one another in endowing the temple with rich offerings and contributions. It was during the rule of the Vijayanagar dynasty that the contributions to the temple increased. Sri Krishnadevaraya had statues of himself and his consorts installed at the portals of the temple, and these statues can be seen to this day. There is also a statue of Venkatapati Raya in the main temple. After the decline of the Vijayanagar dynasty, nobles and chieftains from all parts of the country continued to pay their homage and offer gifts to the temple. The Maratha general, Raghoji Bhonsle, visited the temple and set up a permanent endowment for the conduct of worship in the temple. He also presented valuable jewels to the Lord, including a large emerald which is still preserved in a box named after the General. Among the later rulers who have endowed large amounts are the rulers of Mysore and Gadwal.
Tirumala – The Shrine
The shrine is located on a hill at Tirumala, a cluster of seven hills known as Seshachalam or Venkatachalam with an elevation of 853m (2,800ft.) above the sea level. Said to be the richest temple in the world, this temple is a vibrant cultural and philanthropic institution with a grand history spanning several centuries. It attracts pilgrims from all over the country who stand in line for hours together to obtain a glimpse of the presiding deity.
The elaborate rituals and mode of worship in the temple were prescribed by the saint Ramanujacharya and are being followed even today. Anointing the idol with camphor, and the offering by pilgrims of the hair on their heads by getting themselves shaved by licensed barbers are the important customs in vogue at Tirupati Temple.
The 'Vimana' or Cupola over the sanctum sanctorum is covered entirely with gold plate and is known as "the Ananda Nilayam". The Shrine consists of three 'Prakarams' or enclosures. The outermost enclosure contains the 'Dhvajastambha' or the banner post and, among others, the statues of Vijayanagara king Krishnadevaraya and his consorts, and of Todarmal, the minister of Akbar. The idol of the deity, the full figure of Lord Venkateswara or 'Venkataramana' or 'Srinivasa' or 'Balaji' (as is called in various parts of the country) has the attributes of both Vishnu and Shiva, preserving and destroying aspects of the Hindu Trinity. Festivals of Tirupati
Everyday is a day of festivity at Tirumala. The most famous is the annual festival called 'Brahmotsavam', which is celebrated on grand scale for nine days in September, attracting pilgrims and tourists from all parts of the country. The fifth and ninth days of the festival are especially significant in as much as Garudostavam and Rathotavam takes place on those days.
Location and Climate
Tirupati is located in southern part of Andhra Pradesh. It has an average elevation of 162 metres (531 feet).
The Tirumala Hill is 3200 ft above sea level, and is about 10.33 sq miles in area. It comprises seven peaks, representing the seven hoods of Adisesha, thus earning the name, Seshachalam. The seven peaks are called Seshadri, Neeladri, Garudadri, Anjanadri, Vrishabhadri, Narayanadri and Venkatadri.
In summer temperatures may go up to 42 to 45 degrees Celsius (107.6 F to 113 F),and in winter the minimum temperatures will be between 10 and 18 degrees Celsius ( 50 F to 64.4 F). Usually summer lasts from March to June. With the advent of rainy season in
July, followed by winter which lasts till the end of February.
Tirupati is well connected with all three major cities Hyderabad (555km), Chennai (140 km) and Bangalore (280 km) in South India by air, road or rail. The distance between Tirumla and Tirupathi down hills is 22 kms. From the foothills, the Pilgrims are provided the shuttle buses by Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam (T.T.D) and Andhra Pradesh State Road Transport Service (A.P.S.R.T.C) with as frequent as one bus in every 1-2 minutes throughout the day. The bus journey to Tirumala is approximately 45 minutes. It is also very common practice among the devotees to walk from Tirupati to Tirumala. The walk takes around four hours on a well-laid out foot path.
Tirupati had a population of 227,657. Males constitute 52% of the population and females 48%. Tirupati has an average literacy rate of 75%, higher than the national average of 59.5%: male literacy is 82%, and female literacy is 69%. In Tirupati, 10% of the population is under 6 years of age. The local language is telugu but the city of Tirupati has a significant Tamil speaking population, as the District of Chittoor has a good Tamil presence.