“गोविंदा हरी गोविंदा वेंकटरमना गोविंदा”
“Govinda Hari Govinda, Venkataramana Govinda”
You hear these chants as you patiently make your way through the winding queues. Yes, you are in the famous Venkateswara temple in the sacred Tirumala hills at an elevation of 860m with bhakti in your heart and a small plea for his diving help.
Hindu philosophy reveres questioning, as each person is encouraged to seek their unique way to reach the ultimate truth and the God that resides within us. Thus one such path to reach divinity goes through the Bakhti marg, meaning the path of pure faith, devotion and complete surrender. Tirupati Balaji temple is considered the abode of the ‘Kaliyuga’ deity Lord Venkateswara and is known to command such bhakti from his followers. The deity here is also popularly referred to as Tirupati Balaji. The holy city of Tirupati is located in the southeastern part of Andhra Pradesh, in the Chittoor district. The gracious Lord, residing atop the seventh peak of the Seshachalam Hills range in the Tirupati region, is visited by lakhs of devotees daily! His stature is that of the most powerful Lord who grants his devotees all sincere wishes.
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Fascinating & miraculous facts about the divine statue Of Lord Balaji
Lord Balaji’s idol is fascinating as it is made of stone but seems fully infused with life! The idol maintains a temperature of 110 degrees Fahrenheit, even though the surroundings are cool due to the high altitude of the Temple at 3000 feet. Each morning, after the holy bath known as Abhishekham, droplets of sweat appear on the back of Sri Balaji, which are wiped with a silken fabric by the priests. Even when the priests remove the ornaments of the idol for a holy bath on Thursdays, they come off with a sensation of warmth.
The idol also has natural hair, which never tangles, and the sound of roaring sea waves is heard if one puts their ear on the back of the deity.
The idol of Lord Tirupati Balaji may appear to be standing in the centre of the sanctum sanctorum but is placed in the right-hand corner of the shrine. Another surprising fact is the earthen lamps placed before the idol of the deity in the sanctum sanctorum of the Tirupati Balaji Temple are perpetually lit. There are no reliable records about when these lamps were lit and who lit them.
The Divine Darshan
Enter the sanctum for the darshan with pure devotion, a mind devoid of impure thoughts or doubts, and complete surrender to him. The divine darshan of the Sri Venkateswara, standing tall at about 9 feet, will awe you with his overpowering effect of standing resplendent in all his glory amidst the glowing oil lamps, flowers and incense and blessing his devotees. The two minutes you are allowed in his presence will fill you with a sense of bliss and calm that you will remember for a lifetime. Lord Vishnu’s statue in Tirumala is a self-established statue (or Swaymbhoo), and for years devotees have only seen it from the light of a lamp in the left corner of the Temple that is always burning.
The two imprints on his chest represent the places reserved for Lakshmi and Padmavathi on his body. The Lord was believed to be transformed into a stone; hence, the idol is considered extremely powerful. The darshan is not allowed 24*7, and Sarva Darshan starts from 8:30 am to 11:30 pm. Check the timetable for the temple timings before visiting.
Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam (TTD) Online Booking for Darshan
Tirupati is under the care of Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams (TTD). One has to reach Tirupati city if one wishes to visit Tirumala temple. The Temple is also called the Temple of Seven Hills, namely Seshadri, Neeladri, Garudadri, Anjanadri, Vrishabhadri, Narayanadri and Venkatadri. The main Temple of Tirumala Tirupati lies on the seventh hill of Venkatadri. Tirupati is connected with all parts of India via road, railway and airway. Tirumala Tirupati Temple is visited every day by close to one lakh pilgrims. The pilgrim count can go up to five lakhs on festivals and special occasions! Therefore to ease the pressure of giving a comfortable darshan to all devotees, it is necessary to make an online booking for the darshan with three types of tickets:
? 1. Sarva Darshan Ticket (Free)
? 2. Special Entry Darshan Test (₹300)
? 3. Break (VIP) Darsha
You can even take the help of a travel company to get your end-to-end trip booking done along with transport, darshan ticket or pass and accommodation.
How to travel to Tirupati?
✈️ By Air: The Tirupati Airport is about 14 kilometres from the Tirupati city centre and is well connected to the airports at Chennai, Hyderabad and Bangalore, which in turn, have good connectivity to all major cities in India. You can hire a taxi or a cab from the airport to get to your hotel or preferred location in Tirupati.
?By Bus: If you plan to travel by bus, Tirupati is well connected to all the major cities in the state by the Andhra Pradesh State Road Transport Corporation (APSRTC) buses. Cities in Karnataka are connected to Tirupati through the services of these buses. You can also check out private buses and Tirupati tour companies that ply from many South Indian cities to visit Tirupati.
? By Rail: You can reach Tirupati by getting off at Tirupati Railway Station, which is linked with other major city stations such as Bangalore, Chennai, Visakhapatnam, Mumbai and Madurai. Renigunta is another rail station very close to the city and is at a distance of 15 km. On reaching the station, you can board a bus or hire a taxi to get to your hotel or preferred destination in the city.
? By Road: You can also choose to hire a cab or drive down to Tirupati from the nearby cities of Andhra Pradesh & Tamil Nadu and enjoy a pleasant drive as you explore the beautiful countryside on the way to Tirupati.
?Book a Package Tour: You can also book a convenient & customised package tour with Aertrip that will take care of your transportation and accommodation with Darshan in Tirupati.
Riches of Sri Balaji
Srinivasa or Balaji is often referred to as the wealthiest God, as devotees donate large sums of money and jewellery as a token of love, affection and gratitude to the Lord. It is also said that the devotees shower the Lord with riches to help him repay the loan he borrowed from Kubera, the Treasurer, at the time of his celestial marriage to Padmavathi.
On a spiritual note, the offerings to the Lord represent the devotees’ magnanimity who donate their wealth at his feet because materialistic desires seem small compared to attaining salvation, which is achieved only when humans surrender to the divine force.
Prasad (Meals) served daily at Tirupati Temple
.According to temple legend, Lord Srinivas never lets his devotees go hungry from his abode. Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam’s kitchen serves devotees daily, around 75,000 to 1,00,000 prasad (meals). This food is served freshly cooked as a hot breakfast of Upma/Pongal/Vermicelli Upma along with Chutney and lunch of Chakkara Pongal, Curry, Chutney, Rice, Sambar, Rasam & Buttermilk.
The grand Brahmotsavam celebration in Tirupati
In the Hindu calendar month of Āśvina, paralleling Navaratri, the festival of Brahmotsavam is held over nine days. The evening before the first day, Ankurarpana, the rite of sowing seeds that signifies fertility & abundance, is performed. The important first-day activity is Dwajarohana, where the Garuda flag is raised to hail the start of the festival. Religious activities such as daily homas take place for nine days, and processions are taken out on the Temple’s streets. On the final day, Venkateswara’s birth star is commemorated, and the Sudarshana Chakra is bathed in the temple tank with the devotees and is then placed on a high platform. The devotees then walk under it and are blessed with its dripping water. The festival concludes with Dhvajavarohanam, the lowering of the Garuda flag.
Places to visit in and around Tirupati
Though a visit to the Tirumala temple is the priority for most devotees, some wonderful places in and around Tirupati can be visited once you are done with the temple visit.
1. Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam Garden
The Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam maintains a spectacular garden spread over 460 acres adjacent to the Temple’s main building. The garden boasts an impressive range of more than 200 colourful blooming flowers, making it a sight to behold. The garden has many tanks and ponds that add to its beauty of this garden. It is one of the most popular places to visit when in Tirupati.
2. Talakona Waterfall
At the height of 270 feet, the Talakona Waterfall is the highest in Andhra Pradesh. It is one of the best scenic waterfalls in India, and it originates 30 kilometres inside the forest. You need to trek for around two kilometres to witness the waterfall. The irresistible cascading beauty engulfs most of its stony base during the rainy season. One can enjoy a boat ride here or walk on the canopy rope if one loves adventure.
3. Deer Park
The Deer Park, a natural park maintained by TTD, i.e. Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam, boasts a vast range of flora and fauna, including deer. Enjoy different sighting types of deer here and its beautiful surroundings. It is no wonder the deer park is one of the most popular and attractive places to see in Tirupati.
4. Sri Vari Museum
Sri Vari Museum is spread over 1.25 lakh square feet and is situated opposite one of the Queue Complexes of Tirupati Balaji Temple. This museum boasts a rich repository and information on Vaishnavism, Traditions of Tirumala, and Hinduism, with over 6000 items of historical interest. Some invaluable antique materials like the Varahaswamy Copper inscription, original copper plates of Annamayya’s, etc., are seen here. The offerings and donations go as far back as the middle-age dynasties like the Cholas of Tanjavur, Pallavas of Kanchi, Pandyas of Madurai, Vijayanagara of Hampi, etc., are displayed in the museum. The museum is open daily from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm; entry is free.
5. Sri Govindarajaswami Temple
Sri Govindarajaswami is believed to be an elder brother of Sri Venkateswara, and the Sri Govindarajaswami Temple was founded by a great soul of Vaishnavism–Saint Ramanujacharya. The Temple’s tower or gopuram is its most notable feature, with scenes from Ramayana and Bhagavad Gita engraved. The entry fee is ₹10, but for special darshan, you have to pay ₹25.
Srikalahasti has more historical and religious significance than many other places in the temple town of Tirupati. Srikalahasti is an ancient temple town, but the temples here are dedicated to Lord Shiva, located about 38 kilometres from Tirupati. The main Temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva and is also said to be associated with Rahu and Ketu. The religious significance of this place accrues from its other name – Dakshina Kailasam, meaning Kailash of the South.
7. Kanipakam Vinayaka Temple
Kanipakam Vinayaka Temple is a curious case because it is incomplete, although its construction started in the 11th century during the reign of the Chola Dynasty, and even the idol of the presiding deity is not yet complete. Currently, devotees can see only up to the abdomen of the idol, which is situated in a well with eternal spring.
8. Kapila Teertham
At a distance of about 25 kilometres from the Tirupati Balaji Temple, there is Kapila Theertham, a popular and famous waterfall and one of the most often visited tourist attractions in Tirupati. The water falls from a height of more than 100 feet into a large pond inside the Kapileswara Swamy Temple premises. There is a brass Shiva Linga inside the Temple and a huge stone statue of a bull at the entrance of the Temple. A holy dip in the pond is supposed to be soul cleansing. The Temple is open from 5:00 am to 8:00 pm.
9. Sri Laxminarayani Narayani Golden Temple Vellore
One can also visit the marvellous Sripuram Golden Temple, known as Sri Lakshmi Narayani Golden Temple or Vellore Golden Temple, the world’s biggest Golden temple at the foot of the lush green hills at Thirumalaikodi or Malaikodi in southern Vellore in Tamil Nadu, India. The temple is covered with 1500 kg of pure gold foils from inside & outside. It houses the deity of Sri Lakshmi Narayani, a 70 kg gold idol, the Goddess of wealth in Hinduism. The temple, spread across 100 acres, was constructed in just seven years, and the inauguration took place on 24th August 2007. The temple is just 8 km from Vellore, 100 km from Tirupati, 130 km from Chennai, and 220 km from Bangalore.
Chandragiri lies about 15 kilometres from Tirupati, an ancient town, the fourth capital of the Vijayanagar Kingdom at one time. It is a heritage site in Andhra Pradesh and one of the most popular tourist attractions near Tirupati; that includes an excellent fort and two magnificent palaces built by the Vijayanagara rulers. The fort sits atop a massive rock at the height of 183 metres.
While the fort is a robust piece of architecture, the palaces- Raja Mahal and Rani Mahal – are exquisite examples of Vijayanagara architecture. These are three-storied buildings made with brick, stone, and lime mortar. There is no use of timber in the whole building. The central tower of the palace contains the durbar hall, which rises to the second floor and is supported by pillars. The architectural marvel and incredible decorations make this place one of the most compelling places to see in Tirupati. The place is open from 10:00 am to 8:45 pm. The entry fee here is ₹10 per person.
11. Srinivasa Mangapuram
The Srinivasa Mangapuram, also known as Sri Kalyana Venkateswara Swami Temple, a significant place of pilgrimage, lies about 12 kilometres from Tirupati. The Temple is under the control of the Archaeological Survey of India and is maintained by TTD, i.e. Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams. Suppose you cannot make it to the Sri Venkateswara Temple, in that case, you can go for a darshan of the Lord Sri Kalyana Venkateswara Swamy and fulfil the desire to see Tirupati Balaji.
Blessings of Tirupati Balaji
The aura, charm and divinity of Tirupati Balaji attract people from all walks of life and across the world, and he is believed to be a Kaliyuga avatar of Lord Vishnu to bless and relieve humanity of all its despair. It is also believed that you will visit this abode of Sri Venkateswara in Tirupati to see him only if the Lord wills it. If you have reached this blog, then maybe he does wish that you see him!
ॐ नमो भगवते वासुदेवाय नमः
??Om Namo Bhagavate Vasudevay
(I bow to Lord Vasudeva)