Lord Venkatesa is none other than Lord Narayana who appeared on this earth in the Swetha Varaha Kalpa. The story of His appearance is tied with another avathar (incarnation) of Lord Narayana, which is the Varaha Avathar. Lord Vishnu took the incarnation of Varaha Swamy, to rescue Mother Earth from a demon called Hiranyaksha. After He killed Hiranyaksha, He ordered Brahma: to begin creation on Earth once again. Lord Brahma prayed to the Lord that he be allowed to be with Him on this earth and Lord agreed. However, Lord was still very angry over Hiranyaksha’s deeds. So Brahma prayed to Lord that He appear in a gentler form with a smiling face. Lord agreed to this request as well and this form of Lord is what we call as Lord Venkateswara Swamy. ‘Ven’ means sins and ‘Kata:’ means cut away, so Venkatesa is the one who removes all of our sins.
Once the Lord agreed to be on Earth, His divine vehicle, Garuda, went to Vaikunta and picked up Kridagri, the sporting hill place of Lord Narayana and placed it on the Earth. This place came to be known as Tirumala. ‘Tiru’ means divine and ‘mala’ means hills in Tamil. Hence, the word Tirumala means divine hills. Along with the divine hills, Garuda also brought down the divine lake ‘Airammadam’ and that became Swami Pushkarini. Tirumala became the abode of Lord Venkateswara Swamy. Actually, Tirumala is a mountain with seven peaks. Since this mountain was brought down to Earth by Garuda, one of the peaks is named as Garudadri. Anjana Devi, mother of Hanuman, gave birth to Hanuman here and so one of the peaks came to be known as Anjanadri. When the Lord appeared on this earth, He was not easily visible to everyone. People had to perform penances for long periods and only then would he appear before them.
King Dasaratha performed penance to Lord Venkatesa and was then blessed with four children. King Janaka also performed a similar penance and received blessings of Lord Venkatesa. Lord would disappear after he blessed people, but he would always be present in Tirumala in the form, that Brahma requested him to. However, an incident occurred that made Lord very unhappy and he became ( an idol) the deity form that we see today. There was a king by name Tondaman. He was a devotee of Lord Venkatesa. Lord Venkatesa was also very friendly with Thondaman Chakravathi. Chakravarthi means King in Sanskrit. A Brahmin wanted to go on a pilgrimage and requested King Thondaman to look after his family while he was gone. King Thondaman agreed and provided all the necessary things required by the Brahmin’s family for the next six months. Later he completely forgot all about them. Only when the Brahmin came back and asked him about his family, did the King remember about them. He rushed to the place where the Brahmin’s family was staying, but unfortunately, all of them had died.
Only the bones remained. Realizing what a grave mistake he had committed, he rushed to Lord Venkatesa and asked the Lord to revive them. Lord Venkatesa was very upset with King Thondaman, for not doing his Dharma (duty). He also felt that King Thondaman had misused the friendship and took the Lord for granted. However, Lord did not disappoint the King. He asked him to put their skeletons in the Asthi Sarovara. The king did as was instructed and the brahmin’s family became alive. This incident made Lord very sad and from that day onwards, He became a deity atop the hills of Tirumala. Tirumala is such a sacred and powerful place that even if one were to think of this place, would get his sins wiped off. Now, you can imagine the benefits one would get if they were to go on a visit to this place to have the darshan, and receive the blessings of the Lord.