There would be no Hindu in the entire world who will not be knowing about the sacred Lord Venkateshwara Temple in Tirupati. The temple is situated around 10 Km from Tirupati on Tirumala Hill in Chitoor District. Dedicated to Lord Venkateshwara, one of the many avatars of Lord Vishnu, the temple attracts Hindu pilgrims from all over the world. It is said that the life of a Hindu is not fulfilled till he visits the temple at least once in his lifetime. The temple is considered as the most visited worship site in the world and the second richest worship place in the world after The Vatican in Rome.
It is estimated that, on an average, 60000 pilgrims visit the temple daily and on any special day, the number crosses 200000 mark without any bar. The average earning of the temple was calculated to about Rs. 5.3 Billion annually. The main earning of the temple is from the offerings and gifts presented to them by devotees. Even from the time of rulers and kings, the temple has been showered with expensive ornaments, jewels. Kings of the past have not only made the temple rich, they have made it the window to the true culture of religious India. The rituals that were part of the temple centuries ago, still finds significance in today's ceremonies. Festivals like Vaikuntha Ekadasi, Ram Navami and Janamashtami are celebrated with great enthusiasm, but the main festival is the nine day Brahmotsavam which comes in every September.
History And Legends
The exact age of the temple is not known and there are many debated versions about its origin and about the deity are prevalent. The reference of the temple can be found in Tamil literature dating back to as early as 500 B.C. Tirupati was then called as Thiruvengadam and was the northernmost part of Andhra Pradesh. It was in 12th century, Ramanuja, the legendary Vaishnava scholar, identified the deity as Lord Vishnu and put an end to the ever standing doubt about the deity. The temple was originally build by Pallavas; Hoysalas, the Vijayanagara rulers also contributed in the later stages and donated mind-boggling amount of gold that gave it the stature of the richest temple in the world. Since then the glory of the temple has spread to all parts of the world. In 1843, when British rule came, the administration of the temple was given to Seva Dossji of Hathiramji Mutt who was incharge till 1932 when Trimula Tirupati Devasthanams was set up and took over the charge of the temple.
The main temple premises has number of other small shrines in different directions. Lord Venkateshwara Temple is primarily made in Dravidian style of architecture with the innermost shrine being its biggest attraction. The 'Vimana' or the dome of the shrine, known as 'Ananda Nilayam', is completely coated with gold. There are three enclosures called 'Prakarams' in the temple along with statues of Vijayanagara King Krishnadevaraya and his spouse that are the major attraction in the temple after the central shrine.
Tirupati is well connected by road and rail to all the major cities of Andhra Pradesh. Tirupati is around 592 Km from Hyderabad. There is regular train service between Tirupati and Hyderabad, Vijayawada and all other major cities of the state. The daily rituals in the temple start early morning at 3 with 'Suprabhatam' and ends at around 1 late into the night with 'Ekanta Seva'. If you want to book a puja or offer a Seva in your name, then you can do so by paying the fixed amount at the counter. Cash, gift and other offerings can be dropped in the donation box called 'Hundi'. Due to huge inflow of devotees throughout the year, a special queue system has been made where you have to register at the queue offices near the main shrine. Here you are given a wrist band with the expected time of your entry into the temple along with your fingerprint and photo. This is to make devotees safe from the middlemen. This has impressively decreased the time of Darshan to almost half of the time required earlier.
Even after so many centuries, it is still able to perform every ritual the way they were at the start. The sanctity and purity of the temple can still be felt by devotees. If you get the slightest chance to visit this surreal temple of Lord Venkateshwara, do not let it pass by as it might just be once in a lifetime.