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India's second wealthiest temple, Tirupati Tirumala Venkateswara Temple does not seem to have a clear history about its origin. The Wikipedia entry does not provide proper details on who exactly built this temple atop a mountain or the approximate date when it was built. Even if it were disputed, there must be historians' educated guesses and opinions on this.
Could someone flesh out these details from a reliable source?
The deity itself is self-formed or swayambhu. Raja Thondaman (Thondaman Chakravarty) chiefly contributed to building the temple. Krishnadevaraya is also said to have made several endowments to the temple.
Venkatachala Mahatmayam is the book of reference for history of TTD.
1) The Temple is Built by Tamil pallava King Thondaiman. 2) The Temple has tamil scripts around the inner walls.
Tirupati Tirumala Venkateswara Temple would have been build around the time when Puri Jagannath tample was build because moto of both temple is same.
THE Significance History of Tirumala Temple
The special significance of lord venkateswara temple at tirumala lies in the fact that it is perhaps the oldest religious institutions in the world, were unbroken religious worship is being carried on, according to the available recorded evidence, for over 1,300 years it is a temple attracting more pilgrims than any other temple in India. The average number of visitors to the temple now is 65,000 to 80,000 daily.
LORD VENKATESWARA TEMPLE
It is an ancient temple, that has witnessed the rise and fall of powerful dynasties. The Pallavas, Cholas and Pandyas all patrons of the shrine and they endowed it with jewels and wealth. Later in the 16th century the great Vijayanagar kings enriched & embellished the temple and gave it a new lease of life. The temple is perfect example of the Dravidian style of temple architecture. Within the three prakarams or enclosures of the temple complex is the main shrine with its exquisitely worked and glided vimang above it.
The Sanctum sanctorum called the Garbha Griha is where the main idol of lord Venkateswara resides. The idol stands majestically to a height of eight feet, in the centre of the sanctum directly beneath a gold guilded dome called the Ananda Nilaya Divay Vimana.The exquisitely wrought idol called the Mulabera is believed to be Svayambhu(self manifested) ,according to the legends. Further ,no human being is known to have either sculpted or installed the idol in the shrine.
He has on the right side of his chest a clear impression of Goddess Lakshmi's, his consort. The deity has a unique magnetism, many devotees who go through the fleeting Sarvadarsanam have unusual psychic experience. They leave with a sense of spiritual satisfaction, coupled with a religious hunger to stand in front of Lord Venkateswara and experience the bliss again and again.
It is said that the Tirumala Tirupati temple is located at the earthly point where Lord Vishnu (Venkateswara - its presiding deity) resides in the age of Kali. Politically, it is a part of Andhra Pradesh's Chittoor district.
It is said that the devotees offer money and valuables here to help the Lord pay back a loan he took from Kuber, the Lord of Wealth.
Tirupati Eparchaean Unconformity, a notified National Geo-heritage Monument is a major discontinuity of stratigraphic significance that represents a period of remarkable serenity in the geological history of the earth i.e. sudden changes and discontinuity in the rock layers in earth's crust. Here are other facts about the temple that will fascinate you.
(Tirupati Eparchaean Unconformity. Pic: Wikipedia)
1. The temple to Lord Venkateshwara at Tirumala Tirupathi was built 1,720 years ago in 300 CE.
2. This cash-rich temple is one of the richest shrines in India and sees 35 million pilgrims visiting the temple every year.
3. Tirumala gets from 75,000 to 90,000 pilgrims every day.
4. The first temple at Tirupati was built by King Thondaiman, Tamil ruler of the ancient Thondaimandalam. It is said King Thondaiman had a dream of Lord Vishnu.
5. The temple was later expanded by various kings and emperors (of Pallava and Chola clans) who ruled over the place.
6. The Vijayanagara empire gifted diamonds and gold to the temple. Krishnadevaraya, one of the famous Emperors of Vijayanagara, was a devotee and patron.
7. The Tirupati Temple celebrates some Utsav (festival) or the other almost every day.
Out of these, the 9-day grand 'Brahmotsavam' is the most famous festival of Tirupati.
8. Tirupati Laddu or SriVari Laddu is the sweet laddu offered as Naivedhyam (prasad) to Lord Venkateswara at the Tirumala Venkateswara Temple in Tirupati. It is said that this practice was first started on 2 August 1715.
9. In the Laddu Potu, the kitchen where Tirupati Laddus are prepared, about 200 cooks appointed by the TTD prepare about 1,50,000 laddus every day.
10. In 2009 the Tirupati laddus were accorded the Geographical Indication tag and only TTD is eligible and sell this laddus which have a distinct, unique and rich taste. TTD spends about Rs 15-20 per laddu so that there is no black-marketing
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Many devotees also have their head tonsured as an offer. The daily amount of hair collected is over a ton. The hair thus gathered is sold by the temple organization a few times a year by public auction to international buyers for use as hair extensions and in cosmetics, bringing over $6 mln to the temple's treasury.
Tirumala possibly has the most elaborate arrangement in India to sequence and guide visiting devotees through the holy shrine. Because of the ever increasing daily rush of devotees, the temple authorities have set up a virtual queue system. This has resulted in a steep drop in time that devotees need to spend within the Queue Complex leading to the main temple, from 6 to 8 hours in the early 1990s to about one to one and half hours typically nowadays.
There are two kinds of Darshan (meaning "a glimpse of the Lord") at the temple. One is Dharma Darshanam - free, and usually taking 10 hours from the time you enter the Queue Complex - and the other is Sudarshanam - costing Rs. 50, and taking about 3-4 hours. There are also some more expensive options where the time taken is lower, such as the Nija Pada Darshanam costing Rs. 100.
Individual devotees for Sudarshanam are required to register at any of the many queue offices situated near the main shrine, at the local rail and bus stations in Tirumala and Tirupati, or at TTD offices in other key cities like Bangalore , Hyderabad and Chennai. At registration, devotees can choose the expected date and time of entry into the Vaikuntam Queue Complex. At the time of registration, biometrics (finger printing and photo) are taken to eliminate the involvement of middlemen. Devotees contributing for Special Darshan or Puja Darshan tickets are moved up the queue virtually as well as inside the temple complex though all devotees are treated equally from the point of entry into the sanctum sanctorum.
Typically, devotees spend between 1 and 12 hours going through the Queue Complex, depending on the season and the amount they have paid. The delay increases during weekends, festival periods and special temple puja periods.
The queue does not literally mean standing - these are huge halls in the complex each accommodating about 300 persons, where you can sit (and watch religious programs on a TV which also telecasts rituals from inside the temple). There are toilets, and for those seeking the free Dharma Darsanam, free food (sambar rice / curd rice) and coffee/tea served every couple of hours.
Once the doors to the halls are opened, the devotee joins the actual queue, and it takes about 60-120 minutes (standing/walking now) to reach the sanctum sanctorum and have Darshan. Typically, one gets to see the idol of the Lord for about sixty seconds depending on the rush, and there's hustling by the volunteers to ensure the queue progresses quickly. Nowadays, one can not get a glance of more than 10-20 seconds.
Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam History:
The great dynasties ruled the southern peninsula paid homage to Lord Sri Venkateswara in this ancient sanctuary. In the 9th century AD the Pallavas of Kancheepuram, in 10th century the Cholas of Thanjavur, the Pandyas of Madurai and the kings and rulers of Vijayanagar (14th-15th centuries AD) were the followers of the Lord. They donated many rich offerings to the temple. It was during the government of the Vijayanagar dynasty that contributions to the temple increased.
Sri Krishnadevaraya had sculptures of himself and his spouses established at the gateways of the temple, and these statues can be seen still now. There is also a statue of Venkatapati Raya in the main temple. After the refusal of the Vijayanagar dynasty, the upper class and ruler from all parts of the country sustained to pay their homage and suggest gifts to the temple. The Maratha general, Raghoji Bhonsle, approached the temple and set up a permanent donation for the manner of worship in the temple.
He also obtainable precious jewels to the Lord, together with a large bright green which is preserved still now in a box named after the General. Among the later rulers who have endowed large amounts are the rulers of Mysore and Gadwal.
After destroy of the Hindu kingdoms, the Muslim rulers of Karnataka and afterward the Britishers took over, and many of the temples came in their supervisory and protective control. In 1843 AD, the East India Company divested itself of the direct management of non-Christian places of worship and native religious institutions.
The management of Sri Venkateswara temple and a numeral of lands were then assigned to Sri Seva Dossji of the Hatiramji Mutt at Tirumala, and the temple stays behind the administration of the Mahants for nearly a century, till 1933 AD.
The Madras government agreed to a special act in 1993, which authorized the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams (TTD) Committee to manage and govern a set group of temples in the Tirumala-Tirupati area, through a Commissioner appointed by the Government of Madras.
The Act of 1933 was replaced in 1951, by a performance where the management of TTD was hand over to a Board of Trustees, and an Executive Officer was appointed by the Government. The provisions of the Act of 1951 were reserved by the Charitable and Religious Endowments Act, 1966.
History Of Tirumala
Srimad-Bhagavatam describes the history of Tirumala that during Satya yuga, Hiranyaksha, due to his exploitative activities created a situation where the earth was drowned to the bottom of the Garbhodaka ocean. At that time, the demigods approached Lord Brahma who prayed to Lord Vishnu. Lord Vishnu then appeared from the nose of Brahma in the form of Sri Varahadev. He killed Hiryanaksha and lifted the earth, ‘Bhudevi’ with His tusks, and brought her to a safe position on top of the Garbhodaka ocean.
Bhudevi, the goddess of the earth, being an expansion of Goddess Laxmi was very much pleased to be reunited with Her Lord, Her eternal consort in the form of Sri Varahadev. In Vaikuntha ‘Bhu-Varaha’resides eternally, so Bhudevi, who is the goddess of this earth, pleaded Lord Varahadev to remain with Her on this earth planet. Sri Varahadev decided to satisfy her desire and called for Garuda to fly to Vaikuntha and bring one of His favourite mountains down to the earth, so that He and Bhudevi could reside here together on that mountain. That mountain was brought down, and it is today called ‘Tirumala’. It is the mountain that was carried from Vaikuntha by Garuda himself.
There is also a story of Sesa for the history of Tirumala, the divine expansion of the Lord who sometimes appears as His couch, sometimes as His bed, and sometimes as His slippers, the same Adisesha incarnated on this earth as the seven hills in which Tirumala is situated. Therefore the seven hills are called Seshadari. Knowing that the Supreme Lord would come to live on these hills, Sesha wanted to be there to support His divine pastimes.
Bhrgu Muni sets to find out the Supreme amongst the trinity
As the narration continues, Narada Muni once approached great sages who performed yagna. Narada Muni enquired from them, “To whom are you offering the fruits of yagna? Of all the devathas or demigods, who is the greatest?” Some rishis considered Brahma to be the greatest of the gods, some considered Vishnu, and some considered Siva to be the greatest. In an intriguing dialogue that followed among them, to decide who is the greatest, they all concluded that the greatest of the persons must be one, who is completely transcendental to the modes of material nature. Thus they all unanimously elected Bhruga Muni to test these guna avatars, to see the greatest of the three.
Bhruga rishi first went to the abode of Brahma. Brahma, the father was very happy to see his son, Bhruga Muni. But Bhruga Muni did not say anything to honor his father. In fact he outright ignored him. When Brahma understood that his son was completely breaching all etiquette and basic human manners, he became very angry. Still, somehow or other he contained his anger and didn’t say anything. But Bhruga Muni noticed that his father was very angry, and he left the place. Lord Brahma had failed the test, being come under the influence of anger.
Then Bhruga Muni went to mount Kailash where Lord Siva sat with Mother Paravati. When Siva, Bhruga Muni’s elder brother, saw his younger brother, he came up saying, “Oh, Bhruga , I am so happy to see you. Welcome to Kailash.” He came to embrace Bhruga Muni but Bhruga Muni stopped him saying, “Get away from me. Don’t touch me. You smell terrible. You have ashes from dead bodies smeared all over your body. You wear skulls as garlands. You associate with ghosts and untouchables. If you were to touch me, I would have to immediately take bath in the Ganges, just to purify myself from the intense contamination.”
Lord Siva, upon hearing Bhrgu’s insulting words became very angry. He picked up his trident and was about to punish Bhrgu when Paravati intervened and said, “No, my Lord, he is your brother.” Lord Siva then cooled himself down and Bhrgu Muni left the place. Even Lord Siva had failed the test.
Bhruga Muni then went to Swetha Dweepa, the Vaikunta planet within this universe where Vishnu resides. Lord Vishnu lay on His bed, being served by Laxmi devi the goddess of fortune. While the Lord was lying down, Bhruga Muni charged in and kicked Him right onto the chest. Lord Vishnu very compassionately, with folded hands said, “Oh, Bhruga Muni please forgive me, please forgive me, that you came in and I didn’t even get up to honor you, to welcome you to my home. My chest is so hard, and your lotus feet are so soft, I am afraid I must have caused some pain to your feet. Please let me massage your feet.”
Speaking thus, Vishnu began to very gently massage the lotus feet of Bhrgu Muni, who being so treated began to weep, and tears flowed from his eyes as he spoke “You are the Supreme Personality of Godhead. You are completely transcendental to the modes of material nature. You are all merciful, all compassionate even to an offender like me, please forgive me.” According to Sri Caitanya Bhagvat, after begging forgiveness, Bhrgu Muni seeing the qualities of Lord Vishnu, began to dance in ecstasy. He danced and wept and cried as his hairs stood on end and he went on loudly chanting the holy names Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare. Bhruga Muni then blissfully returned to all the sages and narrated his report.
Everyone from that day on wards consistently worshiped Lord Vishnu by constantly hearing His glories and chanting His Holy Names. Everything was blissful, but Laxmi devi felt very depressed and angry. Although Lord Vishnu had tolerated the offence committed by Bhruga Muni with a very gracious heart, Laxmi devi being a chaste and faithful wife, could not tolerate the offence that was done to her husband.
She said to Lord Narayana,“You may forgive this person for that is your nature. But I have seen this Brahmana whimsically kicking You right in the chest. And because I have seen this abominable act, I have incurred a very heavy unforgivable sin and the sin of witnessing You accepting this offence is so great that I cannot live here any longer. I must go away from here. I must perform severe penances in order to wash away the sin that was incurred by my seeing this offence to You.”
Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams (TTD)
In 1843 the administration of the shrine and its estates was formally handed over to Sri Deva Dossiji of Hatiramji Mutt at Tirupati. Subsequently, in 1932 the management of the Temple was handed over to when Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams (TTD), a non-profit organisation that was established to protect this important religious heritage. The TTD runs various charitable trusts with the proceeds from the pilgrims.
The main temple spans about 2.2 acres in area. Stretching 415 feet in length and 263 feet in width. Devotees pass through the Maha Dwaram/ padivaakili is 50 feet tall, outer gopuram or tower entering an open courtyard marked by ornate flag staff called the Dhvajasthambham. As they walk, to their left is the Ranganayaka Mandapam. To the right is the Aina Mahal, a hall of mirrors that reflects images in an infinite series. Devotees pass through Vendi Vakili, a silver entrance into the main sanctum where they come upon the Bangaru Vakili or Golden entrance. Within the Bangaru Vakili is a threshold beyond which most pilgrims cannot go. Here, a series of dark halls leads the way to the inner sanctum. Each chamber narrowing in width. Many believe this narrowing symbolizes the soul’s journey into the womb of the divine. Which is why, perhaps the innermost sanctum where the main deity resides is referred to in Sanskrit as Garbha Griha or womb-like chamber.
TIRUMALA VISITING PLACES Leave a comment
The Tirumala Hills is 3,200 feet 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, Five persons are allowed for Shrivari Darshan. Laddus will be given after darshan. Laddu Padi tickets are sold at Vijaya Bank. Neeladri, Garudadri, Anjanadri, Vrishabhadri, Narayanadri and Venkatadri.
These seven hills are:
Venkatadri The sacred temple of Sri Venkateswara is located on the seventh peak, Venkatdri. Temple of Lord Venkateshwara, popularly known as Balaji, at Tirumala, is regarded as the world’s richest temple. Pilgrims have both the options of going by foot as well as by road from Tirupati to Tirumala. Administration has provided various facilities like free transportation of luggage, supply of portable water, lavatories, small shops for refreshment and snacks, etc.
For those who wants to travel by road to Tirumala, there are two well-laid roads, one for onward journey while the other is for downward journey. The government runs a regular bus service between Tirupati and Tirumala from the four bus stations: Sri Venkateswara Bus Station, Balaji Link Bus Station, Sapthagiri Link Bus Station, and Sri Padmavathi Bus Station.
Some must-see places at Tirumala:
- Varahaswamy Temple
- Sri Hathiramjee Mutt
- Bedi Anjaneya Temple
- Srivari Sikhara Darshanam
- Sila Thoranam
- Papavinasanam Trip
- Temple Museum
Landmarks on Tirumala & Tirupathi:
- Gogarbham Gardens
- To See around Tirupati
- Kapila Teertham
- Sri Govindarajaswamy Temple
- Sri Kodanda Ramaswamy Temple
- Regional Science Centre
- Municipal Park
- Tirupati Sightseeing
- Sri Padmavathi Temple at Tiruchanoor
- Sri Kalashasti
Temples in and around Tirumala:
- Sri Venkateswara Temple
- Sri Varahaswami Temple
- Sri Bedi Anjaneyaswami Temple
- Sri Anjaneyaswami Temple
- Places in and around Tirupati Sri Padmavathi Ammavari Temple,Tiruchanoor
- Sri Govindarajaswami Temple, Tirupati
- Sri Kodandaramaswami Temple, Tirupati
- Sri Kapileswaraswami Temple, Tirupati
- Sri Kalyana Venkateswaraswami Temple, Srinivasa Mangapuram
- Sri Kalyana Venkateswaraswami Temple, Naryanavanam
- Sri Vedanarayanaswami Temple, Nagalapuram
- Sri Venugopalaswami Temple, Karvetinagaram
- Sri Prasanna Venkateswaraswami Temple, Appalayanagunta
- Sri Chennakesavaswami Temple, Tallapaka
- Sri Kariyamanikyaswami Temple, Nagiri
- Sri Annapurna Sameta Kasi Visweswaraswami Temple, Bugga Agraharam
- Other Temples Sri Venkateswara Temple, Rishikesh
- Sri Chandramouleswaraswami Temple, Rishikesh
- Sri Pattabhiramaswami Temple, Vayalpad
- Sri Venkateswara Temple
- Sri Varahaswami Temple
- Sri Bedi Anjaneyaswami Temple
- Sri Anjaneyaswami Temple
- Swami Pushkarini
Holy water sites:
- Akasaganga Teertham
- Papavinasanam Teertham
- Pandava Teertham
- Kumaradhara Teertham
- Tumbhuru Teertham
- Ramakrishna Teertham
- Chakra Teertham
- Vaikuntha Teertham
- Sesha Teertham
- Sitamma Teertham
- Pasupu Teertham
- Japali Teertham
- Sanaka Sanandana Teertham
- TTD Gardens
- Asthana Mandapam
- Sri Venkateswara Dhyana Vignan Mandiram
- Deer Park
- Sri Vari Museum
TIRUMALA TIRUPATI VAIBHAVAM BALAJI… SRINIVASA…SRI VENKATESWARASWAMY
Vishnu in the form of Lord Venkateshwara at Tirumala Venkateshwara (Sanskrit & Telugu), also known as Venkatachalapathy or Srinivasa or Balaji, is the supreme God believed to be a form of the Hindu Deity Lord Vishnu. He appeared in this Yuga Kali Yuga for saving the people who have fallen deeply and are deluded in three modes of material nature.
Lord Venkateshwara means supreme God who destroys the sins of the people in this material world ‘ven+kata+eshwara=sins+destroyer+supremegod’). He is Vishnu, who is transcendental to the material energy, Vishnu does not have direct contact with material people, and therefore yogis carry out severe penances to have a vision of Vishnu’s lotus feet. How ever, in the kali yuga people have fallen to the point that they have even lost themselves due to ignorance in bodily consciousness. Lord Vishnu out of love towards his devotees therefore incarnated as Venkateshwara.
The exact period in which the temple was founded is not known, and tradition has it that the temple is Swayambhustala, meaning that it came into existence on its own without anyone constructing it. According to folk legends, there was a huge anthill at Tirupati. A farmer heard a voice from the heavens asking him to feed the ants. By chance the local king heard the voice and began supplying milk for the ants himself. His compassion resulted in the liquid uncovering a magnificent idol of Lord Venkateshwara hidden beneath the anthill.
According to some evidence the history of the temple dates back almost 2,000 years. In ancient times, a queen called Samavai, belonging to the Pallava dynasty (614 AD), is said to have consecrated the first silver image here. The temple is also mentioned in Sangam poetry (500 BC – 2000 AD).
Numerous temple inscriptions from the 9th century record details of the temple and contributions made by both Pallavas and Chola Kings. It is believed that originally there was only one shrine at Tirumala. When the Vaishnavite saint, Ramanuja, visited Andhra in the 12th century, the temple at Tirupathi was built. The Chola period saw the temple complex prosper and expand further. In 1517, Krishnadevaraya, on one of his many visits to the temple, donated gold and jewels enabling the Vimana (inner shrine) roofing to be gilded.
The Maratha general Raghoji Bhonsle visited the temple and set up a permanent administration for the conduct of worship in the temple. Among the later rulers who endowed large benefactions were the rulers of Mysore and Gadwal. In 1843, with the coming of the East India Company, the administration of the Shri Venkateshwara temple and a number of shrines was entrusted to Seva Dossji of the Hathiramji Mutt at Tirumala as Vicaranakarta for nearly a century until 1933, when the temple was under the administrative charge of the mahants. The Madras legislature passed a special act in 1933 whereby the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam (TTD) committee was invested with powers of administration and control through a commissioner appointed by the Government of Madras. A Ryot Advisory Council was formed for the management of the estates of the TTD, and was assisted by a Religious Advisory Council with regard to religious matters.
Adi Sankaracharya came to Tirumala and placed Sri Chakra at the lotus feet of Lord Venkateshwara and sung the famous song “Bhaja Govindam”. According to various verses from the Puranas and other text Lord Venkateshwara is the supreme God or Vishnu, Narayana or Brahman of this Kali Yuga. Lord Venkateshwara has His holy abode in the Venkatam hills (the hills are more often referred to as ThiruVenkatam) near Tirupathi. Thus, the main temple of Lord Venkateshwara is the Tirumala Venkateshwara Temple. The Tirumala temple, where He is the presiding deity, is believed to be the richest of all the temples in the world. The temple is in southern India Andhra Pradesh in Chittoor district. The presence of seven hills influenced alternate names for the deity: Edukondalavadu in Telugu and as Ezhumalaiyan in Tamil both of which mean “Lord of the Seven Hills”.
He is also known as Maal, ThiruMaal, Manivannan, Balaji (though this is a more recent name), Srinivasa, Venkatesha, Venkatanatha, Thiruvengadam Udaiyaan, Tiruvengadattaan and by many other names. He is also worshiped with the name Tirupati Thimmappa all over Karnataka by traditionally Shiva-worshipping communities. In Hinduism, Venkateshwara (also spelled as Venkateshwer or Venkatachalapathi) is a much-worshipped form of Vishnu. He is also known as Balaji or Lord Venkateshwara. He is also worshiped with the name Tirupati Thimmappa all over Karnataka by traditionally Shiva worshipping communities.
Garuda brought Kridachala and deposited it on a sacred spot (to the East of Swami Pushkarini) chosen by Adi Varaha. Brahma and the other holy personages requested the fearsome-looking Adi Varaha to assume a tranquil and composed look, and rest on the hill to protect men and grant boons to people unable to reach God through Dhyana Yoga (meditation) and Karma Yoga (doing one’s own duty). Adi Varaha appeared with four arms and a white face. He was adorned with jewels and accompanied by Bhu Devi. He resolved to stay at Venkatadri, under a divya vimana, to grant the prayers of men.
Vishnu’s chest is significant as the abode of Goddess Lakshmi, the Goddess felt highly insulted at the sage’s misdemeanour and Vishnu’s silence at the act and left Vishnu heavenly abode (Vaikunta).
While the King stood wondering how it had happened, the Lord rose from the ant-hill and cursed the king to become an Asura (Demon) for the fault of his servant. Entreated by the king who pleaded innocence, the Lord blessed him by saying that His curse would end when He was adorned with the Kireetam presented by Akasa Raja at the time of His marriage with Sri Padmavati. To atone the sins of raising the axe against the Lord, the cowherd’s atma (spirit) received the boon that he and his descendants would have the pleasure of opening the door in the Lord’s temple in due time.
Thondaman: 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 cow-herd, 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). Lord Srinivasa appears in the dream of Thondaman and asks him to build a temple for Him where He turned into stone. So comes into being the temple for Srinivasa on the seventh hill, named Venkatadri (Venkata Hill).
The total number of pilgrims even goes up to 700,000 in a day. The temple staff alone amounts to a number of 18,000. The popularity of the temple can be judged by the annual income which is around six billion rupees. Tirumala temple is the richest temple in the world after Vatican City.
Sthala Purana (literal meaning: the legend of the place) recounts the particular legend associated with ancient Hindu temples. Accordingly, the legend of Venkateshwara’s Avatara (incarnation) is believed to be as follows: Sage Bhrugu, who according to Vedas is believed to have an extra eye in the sole of his foot, once visited Vishnu. At that time, Vishnu was in a private meeting with his consort, goddess Lakshmi, and failed to immediately receive and honour the sage. The sage felt humiliated and angry, and kicked Lord Vishnu in the chest. Vishnu did not react and remained silent.
Lord Vishnu’s chest is believed to be the abode of Goddess Lakshmi. The Goddess felt highly insulted at the sage’s misdemeanour and Lord Vishnu’s silence at the act. She left Vaikunta, the heavenly abode of Vishnu and Lakshmi. Lord Vishnu, in an attempt to pacify the sage, got hold of legs of the sage and started to press them gently in a way that was comforting to the sage. During this act, he squished the extra eye that was present in the sole of Bhrugu’s foot. The extra eye is believed to represent the sage’s egotism. The sage then realised his grave mistake and apologized to Lord Vishnu.
Lord Vishnu had then incarnated Himself as Venkateshwara and came to earth in search of Lakshmi, who had taken birth as Princess Alamelu (Padmavati) in the household of Akasa Rajan. The princess’s father agreed to give his daughter’s hand in marriage to Venkateshwara if he provided proof of his wealth. Towards this end, Venkateshwara obtained a heavy loan from Kubera, a god (yaksha) who is considered, accordingly to Hindu mythology, as the treasurer of the virtuous wealth in the Universe. Princess Padmavati and Lord Venkateshwara were then wed. Lord Vishnu, in the form of Venkateshwara, and his consort are believed to have enshrined themselves at Tirumala Tirupati for the benefit of mankind. This phenomenon is called swayambhu loosely translated to mean “self-existent and established on earth of one’s own accord, without any external cause”.
Some people also believe that the financial offerings and collections at this temple are second only to those of the Vatican City Church on a worldwide basis. The temple is also a fine example of Dravidian art and style. It is also a famous center for wood carving.
The Brahmotsavam festival is celebrated here in September and October. Sacred texts are recited each day. Every morning and evening images of the deities are taken in a colourful procession around the temple.
The chariot of Lord Brahma, believed to be the initiator of the festival, leads the procession in the name of Adika-masam which comes in every third year. A second Brahmotsava is held, which is known as Navratri Brahmotsavam. These festivals attract thousands of pilgrims from various parts of the country.
Over millennia, many saints had visited the shrine and offered worship to Lord Venkateswara. Notable among them is Sri Ramanujacharya, who is believed to have installed chakra and conch on the deity after a dispute. The Venkateswara Suprabhatam, being the morning recital of prayers and songs of awakening, is believed to have been written and sung by one of Ramanuja’s disciples who visited the temple with his Guru. Sri Vadiraja Thirtha, most prominent among the Madhva saints is believed to have climbed the tirumala hill on his knees and is said to have given a garland of shalagram (saligram) to the Lord.
Traditionally Kurubas build temples on top of the mountains and worshiped the Almighty. This famous temple must have lot of history. This worshiping Venkateswara as Vishnu may be most recent, as Vaishnava priests control the temple. There is Govindaraya Vishnu temple in the Tirupati town down below the hills with Vishnu in Yoga Nidra with Sridevi and Bhoodevi next to him.
Several composers composed beautiful keertanas about Lord Venkateshwara, most notable amongst them being Tyagaraja and Annamacharya. Annamacharya is a legendary devotee of Lord Venkateswara and composed songs almost exclusively about the deity.
TTD Logo: Motto says Srinivasa Vijayethe (Victory to Lord Srinivasa) Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams also referred as TTD is an independent trust which manages the Tirumala Venkateswara Temple at Tirumala, Andhra Pradesh. The trust not only oversees the operations and finances of the richest and the most visited religious center in the world, it is also involved in various social, religious, literary and educational activities within Andhra Pradesh and India. TTD employs about 14,000+ people to maintain the 12 temples and sub-shrines under its control along with the execution of its social activities.
TTD Facilities: TTD provides various services for pilgrims to Tirumala and Tirupati. It has arranged for buses between Tirumala and Tirupati with a frequency of every 2 minutes. Also, it has package tours to holy temples and religious sites from Tirumala and Tirupati to nearby places. TTD has free and paid accommodation in Tirumala and Tirupati. It provides free meals, although donors can make a contribution. The canteen has a capacity to feed 20,000+ pilgrims a day. It has built the Vaikuntam Queue Complex and recently rolled out the queue management system to ensure smooth movement of pilgrims. It maintains the walkway between Tirupati and Tirumala (Alipiri route) and Kalyana Katta where pilgrims fulfill their vow of tonsure.
TIRUMALA TIRUPATI VAIBHAVAM
After knowing the story of Lord Srinivasa (refer episodes 1-16 from my previous posts), it’s now the time to know the history and origin of Sri Venkateswara Swamy Temple in Tirumala Tirupati.
The ancient and sacred temple of Sri Venkateswara is located on the seventh peak, Venkatachala (Venkata Hill) of the Tirupati Hill, and lies on the southern banks of Sri Swami Pushkarini. It is by the Lord’s presidency over Venkatachala, that He has received the appellation, Venkateswara (Lord of the Venkata Hill). He is also called the Lord of the Seven Hills.
The temple of Sri Venkateswara has acquired unique sanctity in Indian religious lore. The Sastras, Puranas, Sthala Mahatyams and Alwar hymns unequivocally declare that, in the Kali Yuga, one can attain mukti, only by worshipping Venkata Nayaka or Sri Venkateswara.
There is ample literary and epigraphic testimony to the antiquity of the temple of Lord Sri Venkateswara. Sri Venkatachala Mahatyam is the most accepted legend with respect to Tirumala and provides the history of the temple across the various Yugas. The temple has its origin from various yugas which we discuss in our coming post “Origin of Tirumala Temple”.
Thondaiman, a Pallava king (capital: Mahabalipuram, just south of modern day Chennai), is believed to have first built the temple after visualizing Lord Vishnu in his dream. He built the Gopuram and the Prakhara, and arranged for regular prayers to be conducted in the temple.
The Sangam Literature of Tamil such as that of Silapadikaram and Satanar Manimekali dated between 500BC and 300AD, mentions Thiruvengadam (now named Tirupati) as the northernmost frontier of the Tamil kingdoms. The site was actually established during the 5th century A.D., and the Alvars (Vaishnava saints) belonging to the Bhakti movement in Tamilnadu sung in praise of Venkateswara. Its significance in Southern Vaishnavite tradition was at the time next only to that of Srirangam.
The Idol of Lord Srinivasa in Tirumala was self-manifested. He wasn’t carved by any sculptor, human or divine. Lord himself chose this most sacred place in the universe to bless all of us from the miseries of Kaliyuga. Discovery of the deity Lord Venkateswara is an act of divine providence. It is believed that during the period of 10th Century A.D. to 12th Century A.D., the Lord was standing in the open sky for hundreds and thousands of years in the jungles of Venkatachala hills. A huge ant-hill was formed by the ants all over the Idol of Lord Venkateswara to protect the Lord from winds and rains. Being a hilly area with dense forests, it attracted only a few pedestrians to that place in those days.
One day a tribal man (erukodu) reached the place near the anthill in the process of his hunt. He was waiting for his prey he heard a voice from the ant-hill craving for food and water. Astonished tribal hunter poured in some milk he had with him at the ant-hill. He again reached the anthill-next day to observe whether the incident repeats next day too. This time he heard an Akasa Vani (a divine voice from heavens) to feed the ants every day and he will be benefited all his life. He therefore, started pouring milk at the ant-hill to feed them every day. But one day, the ant-hill collapsed and a magnificent deity of Lord Venkateswara uncovered from it. Lucky tribal man couldn’t believe his eyes to have a darshan of the Almighty. The tribal man immediately rushed to the tribal king and informed the matter. All the tribal people reached the spot and offered prayers assuming the deity as Lord Siva as the tribal people usually worship Lord Siva as their main deity. Gradually the emergence of the deity from the ant-hill was spread all over and many devotees started to visit the deity. Shaiviks (followers of Lord Siva) worshipped the deity as Lord Siva, Vaishnaviks (followers of Lord Vishnu) worshipped the deity as Lord Maha Vishnu and a few north Indians worshipped the deity as shakti (a Goddess called Balaji) and the Buddhists worshipped as Gautham Buddha for many years.
All these arguments were put to rest by Sri Ramanujacharya a great saint and philosopher of those times, who confirmed the Idol was none other than the Lord Sri Maha Vishnu himself.
Later, 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 Century A.D. to 15th Century A.D.) 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.
After the fall of the Hindu kingdoms, the Muslim rulers of Karnataka and then the Britishers took over, and many of the temples came under their supervisory and protective control.
In 1843 A.D., the East India Company divested itself of the direct management of non-Christian places of worship and native religious institutions. The administration of the shrine of Sri Venkateswara and a number of estates were then entrusted to Sri Seva Dossji of the Hatiramji Mutt at Tirumala, and the temple remained under the administration of the Mahants for nearly a century, till 1933 AD.
In 1933, the Madras Legislature passed a special act, which empowered the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam (TTD) Committee to control and administer a fixed group of temples in the Tirumala-Tirupati area, through a Commissioner appointed by the Government of Madras.
In 1951, the Act of 1933 was replaced by an enactment whereby the administration of TTD was entrusted to a Board of Trustees, and an Executive Officer was appointed by the Government.
The provisions of the Act of 1951 were retained by Charitable and Religious Endowments Act, 1966.