Sri Venkateshwara Swamy temple- Tirupati Balaji Mandir
Sri Venkateshwara temple-Tirupati Balaji Mandir is located in Tirumala, Tirupati, Chittoor district of Andhra Pradesh. Built atop Seshachalam hills range on seventh hill Venkatadri, the temple’s deity is Lord Venkateshwara-the incarnation of Vishnu. He is also called Govinda, Balaji and Srinivasa. He is believed to save the mankind from sorrows and trials of ‘Kaliyuga’. The temple of Venkateshwara is also called ‘temple of seven hills’.
Sri Venkateshwara or Tirupati Balaji Mandir has amazing following and it’s the richest temple in the world in terms of donations and wealth. The devotees who come to pay their respect and have blessings of Balaji are over 40 million each year making it unbelievably the busiest religious place. On annual celebration Brahmotsavam 500,000 people visit the temple per day. Undoubtedly the Sri Vekateshwara Swamy temple is one of the Top religious destinations of India.
The temple is built in typical Dravidian style of architecture and it’s believed to have begun in 300 AD. The sanctum sanctorum Garbhgraha is the abode of Balaji standing upright facing east. The statue is said to remain there till the end of Kaliyuga. Interestingly, Kaliyuga is of 432,000 years and it began 5000 years back.
How to reach
Air- Flights are available from all major towns to Tirupati airport.
Road– The roads are excellent, luxury buses available from all major towns. 20 km hilly road from Tirupati to Tirumala up to 1 km from temple. Some people prefer to take stairs or path from Alipiri and reach in 4 hours
Rail– Nearest rail head- Renugunta, Tirupati main and Anantarajupet
Visiting deity or Darshan
Lord Venkateswara’s Darshan is much sought after, people make beeline to enter and be blessed. Tirumala Devasthanam does commendable job to manage such huge footfalls. They have constructed two queue complexes that have facilities such as waiting rooms, fans, water points and toilet facilities.
Puja-way to worship
The worship of the Lord is done by Hindu tradition of Vaikhanasa, praying supreme God Vishnu. The following ways of worshipping is done in Tirumala temple set with the time.
- Usha kala Puja- Before sunrise
- Madhyahna puja- in Noon
- Nisi Puja- after sunset
The worshipping is done by Vaikhanasa priests who traditionally are doing for centuries and are of few family lineages authorized to be in sanctum sanctorum.
Unique Temple facts
Tirupati laddu is famous prasadam made specially by the temple board, this is offered to Lord Venkateshwara. There are more prasadam like curd rice, tamarind rice and dosa etc.
Many devotees donate their hair to the lord, as token of sacrifice. The hairs are gathered and sold on auction; last year those were sold for an astronomical $6m. It’s second after the donation pot generates money for the temple.
Hundi or donation
The gold donated by devotees is in quintals, few years back temple authorities deposited 3000 kg of gold to the bank. The devotees offer about 20 to 25 million INR per day in the donation box of Lord Venkateshwara.
This is a way to donate by body weight, sitting on one side of weigh balance and on other side grains, fruits as per the wishes of donator, more than the body weight is donated to the Lord Venkateshwara.
Other religious places around Tirupati Balaji Mandir:
Papavinasam Teertham waterfall wherein devotees take a dip to wash off their sins
Swami Pushkarni Lake is highly revered since it is believed that Lord Vishnu himself took bath in the lake.
Sri Kapileswaraswami Temple is another highly revered religious place near Tirupati dedicated to Lord Shiva.