Tirupati and Tirumala
Tirupati and Tirumala are those places well known to all Indians. Sri Venkateshwara, the presiding deity of Tirumalaor engadam, is revered by lakhs of people all over the country. The chief centers of pilgrimage are Sri Venkateshwara`s temple on the Tirumala hill, the shrine of Govindaraja in the town of Tirupati and the shrine of Padmavati, situated in Tiruchanur, three miles to the south of Tirupati. The Hill on which the temple of Sri Venkateshwara stands popularly known as Venkatachalam is low and surrounded by many hills of an altitude.
About the Deity: Balaji - KrishnaThe town of Tirupati Balaji is considered the most sacred place in India. It is famous for Lord Venkateshwara, the deity who is called Tirupati Balaji which here means the `lord of Laxmi`. The shrine is located on a hill at Tirumala, a group of seven hills known as Venkatachalam. This temple is located on the seventh peak of Venkatachala (Venkata Hill) and so the Lord is also called Venkatachalapati or Lord of the Seven Hills, which lies, on the southern banks of Sri Swami Pushkarini.
T he seven peaks represent the seven hoods of Naag Adisesha. There are several legends associated with the manifestation of the Lord in Tirumala. The Shastras, Puranas, Sthala Mahatyams and Alwar hymns clearly say that in Kali Yuga, one will be able to attain mukti only by worshipping Sri Venkateswara. The benefits of the pilgrimage to Venkatachalam are mentioned in the Rig Veda and Asthadasa Puranas. These epics describe the Lord as the bestower of boons. All the great dynasties from the southern peninsula paid homage to Lord Sri Venkateswara in this ancient shrine - Pallavas of Kancheepuram (9th century AD), the Cholas of Thanjavur (10th century), the Pandyas of Madurai, and the kings and chieftains of Vijayanagar (14th - 15th century AD). They competed with one another while giving endowments to the temple.
|LORD TIRUPATI BALAJI|
During the Vijayanagar dynasty the contributions to the temple increased. Krishnadevaraya had statues of himself and his consorts installed in portals at the temple, and they can still be seen. After the decline of the Vijayanagar dynasty, nobles and chieftains from all parts of the country continued to pay homage and offer gifts. The Maratha General Raghoji Bhonsle set up a permanent endowment to conduct the worship in the temple. He also presented valuable jewels including a large emerald, which is still preserved in a box named after the General. Among the later rulers who contributed large amounts were the rulers of Mysore and Gadwal. After the fall of the Hindu kingdoms, the Muslim rulers of Karnataka and then the Britishers took over the supervision and under their protective control. In 1843 AD, the administration of the shrine and its estates were entrusted to Sri Seva Dossji of the Hatiramji Mutt at Tirumala.
Darshans: Sarvadarsanam means `darshan for all`. The timings for Sarvadarsanam are different on different days of the week. For normal days, 18 hours are allotted for Sarvadarsanam and on peak days, it is open for 20 hours. The Sudarsanam token system was introduced to minimize the waiting time for Sarvadarsanam, Special Darshan and other paid darshan/sevas. They are available free of cost at the First Choultry (opposite the Tiru Railway Station), Second Choultry (behind the Railway Station), Alipiri Bus Stand, Tirupati, Vaikuntam Queue Complex, Pilgrim Amenities Centre (Near CRO) and near the Rambagicha Guest House in Tirumala.
Festivals: Everyday is a day of celebration at Tirumala. The most famous is the annual festival called `Brahmotsava`, celebrated on grand scale for nine days in September, and attracts pilgrims and tourists from all over. The fifth and ninth days of the festival are especially significant in as much as Garudostavam and Rathotavam takes place on those days.
Tirumala can be reached either by vehicle or by climbing on foot. Those preferring vehicles can avail the buses plying between Tirupati and Tirumala every 15 minutes. One should purchase the return journey tickets for Tirumala at Tirupati itself to avoid standing in the ticket queue at Tirumala. The tickets are valid for three days and entitle ticket holders to board any bus at any time.
Those who wish to reach the hilltop by foot can walk up can use either of the two well-made stone footpaths. From Chandragiri, Tirumala is 5 km, whereas from Alipiri, it is 11 km. Chandragiri is the more difficult of the two and Alipiri is the more commonly used route. Usually pilgrims climb up the path as a part of their vow.
Air: The nearest airport is at Reni Gunta, 15 km from Tirupati. Indian Airlines operates daily flights from Hyderabad, Vijayawada, Chennai and Bangalore.
Rail: The famed pilgrim town is well connected to Hyderabad, Mumbai, Chennai and Bangalore.
Road: Tirupati is linked to all the major towns and cities of South India by road. Chennai is 150 km; Bangalore, 250 km; and Hyderabad, 725 km from Tirupati. Tourist buses ply regularly between the cities.