Tirumala Venkateswara Temple (Telugu : తిరుమల వెంకటేశ్వరస్వామి మందిరము) (Tamil:தĬ7;ருமலை திருப்பதி வெங்கடேஸ்வரக் கோவில்) is a famous Hindu Temple of Lord Venkateswara located in the hill town Tirumala of Andhra Pradesh. The temple is built on the Venkatadri hill, one of the seven hills of Tirumala, and hence is also known as the Temple of Seven Hills (Saptagiri in Sanskrit,. The presiding deity of the temple, Lord Venkateswara, is also known by other names – Balaji or Srinivasa.
The temple is the richest and the most visited place of worship in the world.The temple is visited by about 50,000 to 100,000 pilgrims daily, 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.
According to the legend, the temple has a self-manifested idol murti of Lord Vishnu, with the Lord believed to have resided here for the entire Kali Yuga. In Sri Vaishnava tradition, the temple is considered one of the 108 Divya Desam sites.
Location of main shrine :
Venkateshwara’s abode is in the Venkatam hills (the hills are more often referred to as ThiruVenkatam) near Tirupathi. Thus, the main temple of Venkateshwara is the Tirumala Venkateswara Temple. The Tirumala temple is believed to be the richest of all the temples in the world. The temple is located in Andhra Pradesh (southern India) in Chittoor district. It is around 500 km from Hyderabad , 150 km away from Chennai and 250 km away from Bangalore
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, Vrushabadri, Narayanadri and Venkatadri. The sacred temple of Sri Venkateswara is located on the seventh peak, Venkatadri (Venkata Hill), and lies on the southern banks of Sri Swami Pushkarini. The temple complex comprises a smaller traditional temple building along with a number of modern queue and pilgrim lodging sites. There are several legends associated with the manifestation of the Lord in Tirumala.
The varied names ascribed to the main deity are Balaji, Srinivasa, Venkateswara and Venkatachalapathy. The goddess Sri or Lakshmi (Vishnu’s consort) resides on the chest of Venkateswara, and thus he is also known by the epithet Srinivasa (the one in whom Sri resides). Goddess Lakshmi and Goddess Padmavathi reside on his either chests. The deity is considered the Kali yuga varada, that is ‘the boon-granting Lord of Kali yuga’ (the fourth and final age of the Hindu cycle of ages). The temple is held in particular reverence by the Vaishnava sect of southern India, known as the Sri Vaishnava.
For worshippers, the deity Venkateswara symbolises goodness. When people travel to Tirupati, they chant “Yedu Kondala Vada Venkataramana Govinda Govindaa” (in Telugu).
With his conch he creates the cosmic sound from which the creation has manifested.And with his disc he destroys ignorance and ego in the beings,thus liberating them. Lord Venkateswara is believed by followers to be a very merciful deity form of Vishnu, being the fulfiller of every wish made to him by the devotees.
The Holy mantra chanted is Om Namo Venkateshaya. “The Venkateswara Suprabhatam”, the morning recital of prayers and songs of awakening, is written by Prativadi Bhayankaram Annan of Kanchipuram. Several composers composed beautiful kirtanas about Lord Venkateswara, the most notable amongst them being Tyagaraja and Annamacharya, who composed mostly in Telugu. Annamacharya or Annamayya is a legendary devotee of Lord Venkateswara and composed songs almost exclusively about the deity.
The Seven Hills :
The seven hill represent the Saptarishi. They sometimes called the Sapathagiri. Hence the Lord is named Saptagirinivasa. Following are the seven hills in order.
- Vrushabadri ( Hill of Nandi, the vahana of Lord Shiva)
- Anjanadri ( Hill of Lord Hanuman)
- Neeladri ( Hill of Neela Devi) – When Lord Balaji was hit by a shepard on his head, a small portion of his scalp becomes bald. There is no hair growth over there and this is noticed by a Gandharva princess Neela Devi. She feels “such an attractive face should not have a flaw”. Immediately she cuts a portion of her hair and with her magical power she implants it on his scalp. Then Lord Balaji notices her sacrifice as hair is the beautiful aspect of 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 that hair received. Hence it is believed that hair offered by the devotees is collected by Neela devi.
- Garudadri ( Hill of Garuda, the vahana of Lord Vishnu)
- Seshadri ( Hill of Sesha, the dasa of Lord Vishnu)
- Naraynadri ( Hill of Lord Vishnu)
- Venkatadri ( Hill of Lord Venkateswara)
The Roof with Shining Golden Exterior of the Inner Temple that houses The Main Presiding Deity is named “Vimanam” in any Hindu temple. In the Tirumala temple, it holds a very special place as the “Ananda Nilayam” (meaning Abode of Happiness or Bliss literally) with its imposing view, magnificence, and readily recognizable identity to any devotee familiar with the temple and its fame.
From the Tirumamani Mandapam, you can enter the Bangaru Vakili to reach the inner sanctum sanctorum. There are two tall copper images of the dwarapalakas Jaya and Vijaya on either side of the door. The thick wooden door is covered with gilt plates depicting the dasavataram of Sri Maha Vishnu. The doorway is directly in line with the Padi Kavali and the Vendi Vakili. It admits pilgrims to the Snapana Mandapam. Suprabhatam is sung in front of this door.