Tirumala Venkateshwara Temple
History of the TempleTirumala Venkateshwara Temple is one of the oldest and the most famous temples of India. It is situated in the Tirumala, a hill town near Tirupati in Chittoor district of Andhra Pradesh. The Tirumala Hill consists of seven peaks which represent seven heads of Adisesha (the first serpent) and hence this hill is also known as Seshachalam Hills. The seven peaks are namely Seshadri, Neeladri, Garudadri, Anjanadri, Vrushabhadri, Narayanadri and Venkatadri. The temple is on the seventh peak, Venkatadri and known as “Temple of Seven Hills”. It lies on the southern ridge of Sri Swami Pushkarini, a sacred holy tank.Lord Venkateshwara means the supreme god who destroys the sins of the people in this material world. He is an incarnation of Lord Vishnu.
There are several myths and legends related to the origin of the temple. The exact period is not known in which the temple was founded and it is believed that the temple is Swayambhusthala, means it came into existence on its own without anyone constructing it. Numerous temple inscriptions from the 9th and 10th century records details of the temple with contributions made by both Pallava and Chola Kings. As per believers, there was only one shrine at Tirumala. When Ramanuja, a Vaishnav Saint visited Andhra in 12th century, the temple at Tirupati was built. The Chola period saw the temple prosper and expand further. When Srirangam was invaded by Malik Kafur in 1310-11 AD, their presiding deity, Ranganatha Swamy was sheltered in the Ranga Mandapam of the temple. In 1517, Shree Krishna devaraya of the Vijayanagar dynasty, on his one of the visits to the temple donated gold and rich jewels enabling the inner shrine roofing, Vimana to be glided. He had statues of himself and his spouse installed at the portals of the temple and these statues can be seen today also. After the decline of Vijayanagar Empire, the kings from Mysore and Gadwal state also gave valuables to the temple. Then, Maratha general Raghoji Bhonsle visited the temple and for the conduct of worship in the temple, set up a permanent administration. Raja Todarmal, revenue minister of Mughal Emperor Akbar also visited this holy place and you can see his idol in the premises of the temple.
In 1843, with the rise of East India Company and coming of Madras presidency, SevaDossji of the Hathiramji Muttwas entrusted to the administration of the temple and number of shrines as Vicaranakarta for nearly a century until the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam (TTD) was established in 1932 which was passed by Madras Legislature.
TTD committee was controlled by the commissioner appointed by Government of Madras and was invested with powers of administration. After Independence, Tirupati was integrated to newly formed Andhra state by the Government of India.TTD is now operated by the Board of Trustees which are fifteen in size, they not only oversees the financial aspect of the temple but also involved in various social, religious and educational activities all over India.
Features of the TempleThe Vimanam houses the main deity, Lord Venkateshwara. It is a monumental tower with a golden roof. The diety stands directly below a dome called Ananda Nilaya Divya Vimana. The magnificent deity, known as the Mulaberam, is said to be self-manifested and there is no evidence of any human being known to have installed it in the shrine. Lord’s black idol wears a gold crown with an emerald embedded on it and on special occasions, he is bestowed with diamond crown. He bears Goddess Lakshmi on his right chest and Goddess Padmavati on his left chest. He has Yajnopavita flowing down from his left shoulder. The idol is fully decorated with gold ornaments only. Pilgrims are not allowed to enter Vimanam or Garbha Gruham beyond the Kulasekhara Path.The main stone deity which is about 8 feet from toes to top of crown of Lord Venkateshwara known as Dhruva Beram is considered as the main source of energy in the temple. Other deities in the temples are namely BhogaSrininvasa, Ugra Srinivasa, Utsava Beram and Koluvu Beram.
The temple is the second richest pilgrimage centre after Shree Padmanabha swamy Temple in Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala. It is the most visited place of worship in the world. The temple is visited by lakhs of pilgrims daily and on special occasions like Brahmotsavam; number of pilgrims shoots up to 5 lakhs on a single day. This temple is a fine example of Dravidian style of art and architecture. It is also an important center for wood carving. The world famous TirupatiLaddu is given at temple as prasadam. Many devotees have their head go baldas an offering to God. Hundi collection is the most important temple activitiy among all. Everyday thousands of devotees offer gold to God as a token of love. It is the highest income generating activity in temple which goes as high as 23 million per day.