Located in the Eastern Ghats of Andhra Pradesh
is the grand
temple of Lord Vekateshwara or Balaji.
The temple is located on the seventh peak,
Venkatadri (Venkata Hill) and hence the
deity is also known as 'Lord of the Seven Hills'.
These hills are said to resemble the shape of
the mythical serpent Shesha and so the
deity is also referred to as 'Sheshachalavasa'.
The topography of Tirumala shows that
the temple is at an altitude of 3,200 feet above
sea level. Research on the inscriptions of the
temple dates the temple structure to be of the
8th century AD and reveals some distinctive architectural
features of the Vijayanagar period.
are two main ways to reach Tirumala. One way is
a road designed for vehicles with a distance of
12 miles and the other, a stepped pathway, seven
miles long. It is estimated that on an average,
50,000 pilgrims visit the temple every day and
the number exceeds one lakh during the 'Brahmotsavam'
festival. Tirumala is considered to be the
richest Hindu temple in the world. And richer
is the 'prasadam' - fondly called Tirupati
Laddu, made of cashew nuts, raisins, boondi
and sugar syrup.
The image of the Lord is in the Sthanaka (standing
posture). On either sides of his shoulder are
the sankhu (shell) and chakra (wheel).
Goddess Lakshmi is seated on his right
chest. Adorned by precious jewellery, Balaji wears
a big emerald called 'Meru Pacha' considered
to be the biggest emerald in the world. The most
exquisite of his jewels is the intricately carved
diamond crown (aparanji) encrusted
with 28,369 diamonds!), costing approximately
Rs 5.73 crores.
Not just the Lord, even the Vimana (tower)
above the temple and the huge pillar in front
of the deity are wrapped in gold sheets.
It is customary for devotees to make a vow and
offer their hair on the fulfilment of their wish.
Tonsuring is done free of cost at the Kalyana
Katta. Before entering the main temple, the
pilgrims take a dip in the Swami Pushkarini
tank believed to clean them of their sins and bestow prosperity.
Every morning, the day commences with 'Suprabhatham',
a pre dawn seva (service) meant to
awaken the Lord from his 'yoganidra' (the
Lord's sleep). The Balaji Suprabhatham is
an impressive devotional poem comprising of twenty-nine
slokas sung by the famous singer
M S Subbalakshmi. The most important festival
of Tirumala is the annual Brahmotsavam celebrations,
during the month of September. During this
time, the hills resound with the constant chant
of 'Govinda'. It is a nine-day long utsavam
(celebration) with the fifth, eighth and
eleventh day being most important. It is
considered fortunate by devotees to visit and
be a part of this celebration.
Tirumala under the management of Tirumala
Tirupati Devasthanams offers good infrastructure,
amenities and services to pilgrims. It is a much
sought after pilgrimage centre with an exceptional
combination of architecture, history, richness
How to reach Tirupathi from Hyderabad:
APTTDC conducts 3 days' trip twice a week.
Places covered: Tirupati, Tirumala, Trichanur
(Includes special darshan, hill transport and
Departure Time: 8 a.m. (Friday and Sunday).
Arrival Time: 7 a.m. (Sunday and Tuesday).
For booking and other information, contact APTTDC
Tankbund Road. Phone: 345 3036
Yatri Nivas, S.P. Road: Phone: 781 6375