Most popular pilgrim place Tirumala Tirupati and its surrounding piligrim places


Tirumala Tirupati Venkateswara temple situated on Tirupati Tirumala hills is one of the most popular pilgrim place of the world. It is one of the most richest temples of the world which is visited by lakhs of people daily. In this article I gave a description of the location of this temple, transport and lodging facilities available, daily activities of the temple, the various festivals conducted by Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam during various months of the year etc.

Introduction


Tirumala Venkateswara, the most popular Hindu God's temple is situated in the hill town of Tirumala near Tirupati in Chittor district of Andhra Pradesh, India. Tirumala Venkateswara is an avataar of Lord Vishnu and is popularly known as Venkatachalapathy or Srinivasa or Balaji by the people. Vedas considered this is an avataar of Lord Vishnu in Kaliyuga to save the people from materialistic delusions and from their sins.

The seven hills which are situated in Tirumala are, the first hill Vrushabadri, hill of Nandi which is the vahana of Lord Shiva. The second hill is Anjanadri, hill of Lord Hanuma. The third hill is Neeladri, hill of Neela Devi. The fourth hill is Garudadri, the vahana of Lord Vishnu. The fifth hill is Seshadri, one of the dasa of Lord Vishnu. The sixth hill is Narayanadri, which is the hill of Narayana (avataar of Lord Vishnu). The seventh hill is Venkatadri which is the home place of Lord Venkateswara. The seven peaks of the hills represent the seven hoods of Adisesha and thus Lord Venkateswara got the name Seshachala.

A view of Tirumala Temple: (Courtesy- Wikipedia)
Courtesy: Wikipedia


History of the Temple


The exact time of origin of this temple is not known to any body. From ancient history it's origin is said to be swayambhustala i.e. it came into existence on its own without the construction of any body. A queen Samavai belonging to Pallava dyanasty (614 AD) was first donated the silver image here. Inscription from 9th century indicates the various details of the temple and the contributions made by Pallava and Chola kings for the development of the temple. At 12th century, the Vaishnava saint Ramanuja visited Andhra, the Tirupati temple was built. Chola kings helped for the development of Temple complex. Later Krishnadevaraya donated gold and jewel to the Lord Venkateswara during his seasonal visits to the temple around 1517. With his huge donations of King Sri Krishnadevaraya only, the inner shrine of the temple was shielded with gold. After the decline of Krishnadevaraya dynasty, the Maratha General, Raghoji Bhonsle arranged a permanent administration for the conduct of worship of the temple. Later rulers of Mysore and Gadwal donated huge amounts of donations for the development of the temple. After the decline of Hindu rulers, Muslim rulers and British rulers took over the duty of administration of the temple. From 1843 AD to 1933 AD, the administration is under the control of East India Company. Government of Madras in 1933, established a committee Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam (TTD) to administer the functioning of the Tirumala Tirupati area.

For easy Darshan of Lord Venkateswara Use Tirupati e-Sudarshan Service


Devotees who want to visit Tirumala Tirupati can use e-Sudarshan service to avoid to stand in long queues for hours and hours together to have a darshan of Lord Venkateswara. Online e-Sudarshan booking can be done 3 days gap to 90 days from any of the e-Sudarshan counters situated in various Cities and Towns of India by paying a nominal fee. Basing on the demand of the visitors, e-Sudarshanam counters allot a date and time slot for the devotees on which they can enter the Vaikunta complex queue for easy darshan. TTD has opened special counters in Tirumala to issue Sudarshanam to every devotee to know the possible time of darshan. Devotees also can book Accommodations and Sevas from the same counters with the same procedure like e-Darshanam booking. In the meantime devotees can visit various places in and around the surroundings of Tirumala Tirupati. To book online e-Sudarshan booking in various centers of e-Sudarshan counters devotees has to produce any document of identification like Passport, PANCARD, Driving license, Voter ID.

Transport facilities from Tirupati to Tirumala for devotees


Devotees can choose two options to reach Tirumala hills from Tirupati to have a darshan of Tirumala Venkateswara. There are frequent buses(every 2 minutes) from Tirupati to Tirumala conducted by APSRTC (Andhra Pradesh State Road Transport Corporation to reach Tirumala as well as to return back to Tirupati. It is the safest means of transport for the devotees to reach Tirumala. APSRTC is also conducting free Bus service to Tirumala for devotees at some regular timings.

Devotees also can reach Tirumala Hills by foot according to their wish. There two paths to reach Tirumala by two ways. One way is from Alipiri Mettu which originates from the foot hills of Tirupati. This is the most commonly used path by devotees to reach Tirumala. Its distance is 11 kilometers and takes 4.5 to 5 hours to reach the top by foot. The path is with steep steps passing through the Tirumala Deer Park.

Another path to reach Tirumala is Srivari Mettu which originates from Srinivasa Mangapuram. Its distance is 15 Km. from Tirupati and is the less used path by devotees. Usually devotees reach by bus from Srinivasa Mangapuram to Alipiri. From Srivari Mettu the distance to Tirumala is 2.1 Km. and devotees can reach Tirumala within 1-2 hours by foot.

Accommodation for the devotees


Devotees can get accommodation in TTD Guest houses. Booking also can be made in advance by online booking through e-Sudarshanam counters spread throughout the country. Devotees have to pay nominal rent of Es.300 per day. Free cottages also available for devotees provided by TTD by paying Rs.200 advance and later after vacating the room the money will be returned. Devotees also can also avail the facility of Private Hotels and Lodges for staying to visit the various places in and around Tirumala. These private hotels and lodges can be available at the both Tirupati and Tirumala Hills with various ranges of facilities starting from normal cottages to five star facilities. TTD provides meals facility to all its devotees at Tirumala Hills in a clean environment at specific times.

Festivals


Through out the year in Tirumala small and big festivals will be conducted will religious fervor and gaiety. Brahmotsavam will be conducted in the months of September and October corresponding to Asweejam/kanya. Brahmotsavam is a nine day festival.

In the months of December and January, a 10 day festival celebrated before Vaikuntaekadasi, in the month of Margaseersha is Adhyanotsavam.

Pavitrotsavam is a five day festival celebrated in the months of June-July (Shravana Maasam). It starts at Shukladashami.

Vasanthotsavam a summer festival celebrated in spring season. During May month, Padmavathi Parinayam festival will be celebrated.

Important places to visit by the devotees in and around Tirumala


1. Akaasa Ganga


Just 5 Km. away from the main temple there is a natural waterfalls in Tirumala hills. Priests use this water to carry out rituals to Lord Venkateswara. Vedas say the water from this natural fall is originated from Lord Vishnu's feet. Devotees take bath under this natural waterfall thinking that their sins will be washed away with this holy water.


A view of AAkasa Ganga(Courtesy:Wikipedia)
Courtesy: Wikipedia

2. Srivari Padamulu


Srivari Padamulu are the foot prints of Lord Venkateswara when he stood first at the peak point of the Tirumala Hill. It is situated 15 Km. away from the temple.


3. Papavinaasanam


It is 8 Km. away from the Tirumala Hills. The temple of Goddess Ganga was situated here. Devotees believe that by taking bath and visiting Goddess Ganga, one may wash their sins committed in their whole life.

4. Alamelu Mangapuram


Just 5Km. away from Tirupati, Alimelu Mangapuram, the abode of Goddess Padmavathi is situated in Tiruchanoor. Thousands of devotees visit Padmavathi Devi temple daily. Lord Venkateswara stayed here after marriage with Padmavathi. Annual Brahmotsavam and Sakshatkara Vaibhavam festivals will be celebrated annually here every year.

5. Sri Kalahasti


It is situated 35 Km. away from Tirupati. Sri Kalahasti temple is situated on the banks of the river Swarnamukhi. It is a very ancient Shiva temple situated in South India. The temple is built between the river bank and the foot of the holy hills Tirumala. Thus this temple is popularly known among people as Dakshina Kailasam. This temple was built in the period of Srikrishna Devaraya of Vijayanagara empire. An interesting feature about this temple is a hundred pillar mantapam can be seen in this temple. Interestingly the name of this temple is originated from three animals, Sri(Spider), Kala (Snake) and Hasti (Elephant).

A view of Kalahasti Gopuram(Courtesy: Wikipedia)
Courtesy: Wikipedia


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