Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Lord Venkatachalapathi Temple- Tirumala

This temple of Lord Venkatachalapathy is situated in Andhra Pradesh in Chittoor District 3200 ft. above sea level. The temple is situated on the seven hills called as Tirumala which is around 20 Kms. from Tirupathi town and it’s believed that the mountain resembles the seven hoods of the serpent, Aadisesha. The Tirumala God is the richest God in the world as nearly one lakh pilgrims visit the temple everyday. On special occasions the visit exceeds more than 4-5 lakhs in a single day. The offerings to the temple run into crores and it includes a recent addition and the costliest ever, of a 23 kg. weighing gold crown studded with gems and emerald donated by a devotee. The temple Hundis overflow with offerings and every now and then this is emptied and devotees themselves offer their service to God by counting the money and sorting out gold, silver and valuable gems which comes as contribution to the temple. The main idol in the temple which resides in the sanctum sanctorum is of black granite, a swayambhu and the utsavar here is the one that is brought out of the temple for various rituals that are conducted by the temple and the devotees.
People trek the hills to reach the temple or travel by buses run by the temple administration. Private cars and vans can ply on the hill but not buses. The serene atmosphere and greenery around will captivate anybody’s heart. Stringent checking of vehicles and luggage is done at the entry point as liquor and smoking are a big No in the hills. The whole Tirumala town is kept neat and clean by the workers round the clock. Drinking water, clean bathroom and toilet facilities are also available for facilitating the pilgrims. In fact the temple administration is taking care of all the needs of the pilgrims though the numbers visiting this hill temple is enormous. Annadanam (free meals) is provided for the pilgrims who visit the temple and the pilgrims take this as a prasadam .

As the temple is always thronging with people getting darshan of Lord is also not easy. Many perform sevas to the Lord like kalyanotsavam, (the celestial wedding), or sahashra deeplankaram, Unjal seva and other sevas etc. as an offering to god or to get a quick darshan of the main deity. For people who cannot afford there is always a sarvadarshan which is free but pilgrims may have to wait for a few hours depending on the season before they have good darshan of the Lord. There are beautifully designed queue complexes with good seating arrangements and CCTV where one can see and listen to Bhajans and temple video clippings. The pilgrims also get free food in this queue complex for sarvadarshan during the wait. During Brahmotsava time the wait could be even more than 24 hours.


Mobile phones and cameras and other electronic gadgets are not at all allowed inside the temple so it is better to leave them in the cloak rooms as frisking is done at least at 3-4 points.

Once we are inside the precincts we can see a mandapam on the left where all rituals are conducted and we can see the flag mast also before we proceed into the inner most prakaram of the temple. The temple reverberates with chanting of Om Namo Venkateshaya and one’s mind automatically focuses on God . The devotees also chant the Lord's name "Govinda Govinda"( yet another name of the Lord) . Opposite to the main deity is the Garudalwar the vehicle and devotee of God and the main dwaram is guarded by Jai and Vijay the dwarpalakas, the gate keepers.

The idol is over 10 feet tall and is always adorned with priceless diamonds, gold ornaments and flower garlands. The idol is visible from quite a distance. Now a days the entry is restricted up to a safe distance for security reasons.

The security people lined along the queue see that the people move fast and every one gets a quick darshan. The time one gets to see the god would be only few seconds but people who come out are a contented lot.

Middle men are not entertained so do not fall for people who would promise quick darshan. After the darshan each devotee gets some Prasad from the temple . The prasadam here is the famous tirupathi laddu and the Vada . For each seva performed the devotees are entitled to some specified number of laddus and for some sevas vadas are also added. Cost of this is included in the seva pricing. For those pilgrim who go the sarvadarshan route they get free darshan as well as a free laddu. The laddu tastes heavenly and people give as much importance to the laddu as they give for the darshan itself.

The annual Brahmotsavam festival at this temple is a grand affair and it goes on for about 10 days just before Navarathri every year. Every day the God and his consorts Sree devi and Bhoodevi are brought out in various vehicles, palanquin, Sesha vahana (vehicle), Hamsa vahana, Airavata, Garuda vahana dressed in beautiful costumes and it is really a beautiful sight to watch.

There is also a Varaha swamy temple on the northen side of the temple which is older than the Balaji temple, it is near the temple tank Sampuskarani, where the temple float festival takes place. It is believed that the water from this tank can purify a person of all his sins. There are many other places in Tirumala hills if one wishes to visit, like Papanasm falls and Kapilatheertham. There are plenty of buses available for a tour of these places free of cost.

A little legend- It was believed that Lord Vishnu came in search of Goddess who had left his abode over a small tiff with him. She was born as Padmavathi on earth and God wanted to marry her so he came and stayed in Seshachalam, the seven hills and married her. Padmavathi temple is situated at Alamelu Mangapuram 5 Kms. from Tirupathi town in the plains. A trip to Tirupati is considered complete only if one visits the Padmavathi Koil as well. Govindaraja Perumal koil in Tirupathi town is also quite famous where one would find God taking rest, in a reclining position after measuring gold which he had borrowed from the Lord Kubera (king of wealth)

It is always advisable to have lot of spare time in the schedule when one is planning a visit to Tirumala as the time for darshan is very unpredictable and depends on the the crowd for the day.

How to reach:
Tirupathi is well connected by air from Hyderabad and Chennai to all other parts of India by express and mail trains. Buses also ply from various States of Southern India at frequent intervals.


Accomodation:
All kinds of luxury and budget hotels provide convenient accomodation for pilgrims. TTD devsthanams also provide quality accommodation on chargeable and free basis depending upon availability. There are many mutts and ashrams which provide decent accommodation for devotees.


Pictures by my nephew Pravin Bhat
2nd picture of golden vimanam coutesey Wikipedia

16 comments:

  1. thats nice lord venkateswara/venkatachalapati/balaji he was my favourite god.i will visit only balaji temple .
    blogger
    s.srinivaasa rao
    visakhapatnam

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  2. Thank you Mr. Srinivasa Rao. Many of my friends were asking about this particular post. I too felt happy narrating the same as Lord Balaji happens to be my favourite too.

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  3. Thanks for the comment KR Bhat and for sharing those wonderful photos.

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  4. My elder brother wants to visit Tirupati very shortly... so... hey thanks for prviding details of accomodation, travelling facilities over there. As usual nice description of ur visit!

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  5. Thanks Monu, by the way i read and commented your post too.

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  6. What can I say? This temple is absolutely stunning. Chances are I will never actually get to see any of these Temples for myself so thank you for bringing them to me. I look forward to more posts.

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  7. Romba thanksngooo, i wished yu'd write an article abt Tirumala and yu did it with so much grace...I infact saved a Doc of yur post now! as i read lost in thoughts of my journey as well, still remember as yu say just a glimpse ..probably a few seconds of the Lord but yeah i came out quite contended as well...so will everyone else...I'll start to Tirupati once i come back to India..!! Romba thanks and i didnt realise i was not following yu till date!! sry abt that and as usual neenga than naan epovume last commenter before i post my new article...cya..oh am spamming here

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  8. Petty Witter
    Very glad you are finding these description and the photos very attractive. Your comments are more attractive and motivates me to write more.In fact i wait for your comments too.thanks.

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  10. Hary,
    I had lot of hints from my friends that i should write on Balaji darshan. I always have a soft corner for Balaji and wasted no time. In fact I waited only for the photograph which my nephew sent it across pretty soon for me.
    Thanks for following my blog.

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  11. Each temple has its own identity and fame.
    Some of them are worth visiting for its historical value.

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  12. Haddock,
    What you say is absolutely correct. Thanks for visiting and the comment.

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  13. Chitra,,great work dear We like to visit Lord Balaji every year before marriage my dad take us to Tirupathi everyyear without fail dear,,every time we feel new experience while visiting there,,very unique n vibrating place dear...

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  14. Good article. Grand world is the best of all tirupati hotels. this is offering the best services in tirupati
    tirupati hotels

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  15. This comment has been removed by the author.

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