TIRUPATI TOURISM GUIDE:
Map: Tirupati Tourism, Andhra Pradesh, India
Location: 67-km From Chittoor, Chittoor District, Andhra Pradesh
Famous For Having: World’s Richest Temple
Famous As: A Pilgrimage Centre
Nearby Attractions: Sri Kalyana Venkateswaraswami Temple, Sri Venugopalaswami Temple, Srikalahasti
TIRUPATI TRAVEL GUIDE:
Tirupati – A Divine Destination:
Tirupati City is located in the southeastern part of Andhra Pradesh State. It lies about 152-km northwest of Chennai in the Palkonda Hills. Tirupati is known as the abode of the Hindu god Venkateshvara (also spelt as ‘Venkatesvara’), “Lord of Seven Hills”. About 10-km northwest of Tirupati, at an elevation of 750m, is the sacred hill of Tirumala, which was considered so holy that before 1870 non-Hindus were not permitted to ascend it.
Back To History – The Ruling Dynasties:
Tirupati was developed mainly by the contributions made by kings during their rule. Almost all the kings from great dynasties of the southern peninsula have paid homage to Lord Sri Venkateswara in this ancient shrine of Tirupati. The Pallavas of Kancheepuram (9th century AD), the Cholas of Thanjavur (a century later), the Pandyas of Madurai, and the kings and chieftains of Vijayanagar (14th – 15th century AD) were devotees of the Lord and they competed with one another in endowing the temple with rich offerings and contributions.
During the rule of the Vijayanagar dynasty contributions made to the temple increased enormously. Krishnadevaraya had statues of himself and his consorts installed at the portals of the Tirupati temple, and these statues can be seen to this day. There is also a statue of Venkatapati Raya in the main temple at Tirupati.
The decline of the Vijayanagar dynasty did not affect the contributions to this place as many nobles and chieftains from all parts of the country continued to pay their homage and offer gifts to the temple. Raghoji Bhonsle, the Maratha general, visited the temple and set up a permanent endowment for the conduct of worship in the temple. He presented valuable jewels to the Lord, including a large emerald, which is still preserved in a box named after the General. Among the later rulers who have endowed large amounts are the rulers of Mysore and Gadwal.
After the fall of Hindu kingdoms, came the Muslim rulers of Karnataka and after their downfall the British took over, and many of the temples came under their supervisory and protective control.
In 1843 AD, the East India Company divested itself of the direct management of non-Christian places of worship and native religious institutions.
TIRUPATI PRIME ATTRACTIONS:
Lord Venkateswara Temple at Tirumala: Tirumala has the historic shrine of Sri Venkateswara (also known as Balaji), “the Lord of Seven Hills”, who is famous all over the country.
Padmavati Temple: In Tiruchanur, 5-km from Tirupati is this large temple dedicated to goddess Padmavati, the consort of Lord Venkateswara (Balaji). It also known as “Alamelumangapuram” and it is said that a visit to Tirumala is fruitful only after visiting the Sri Padmavati Devi temple.
Govindaraja Swami Temple: One of the most important temples in Tirupati is Sri Govindarajaswami Temple, which was consecrated by Saint Ramanujacharya in 1130 AD. It is located in the heart of the Tirupati.
Kodandaramaswami Temple: Located in the centre of the Tirupati town, the presiding deities over here are Sita, Rama and Lakshmana. Chola king built it during the 10th century AD. The temple of Anjaneyaswami, which is directly opposite, is a sub-shrine of this temple.
Sri Kapileswaraswami Temple: Situated about 3-km to the north of Tirupati, at the foot of the Tirumala Hills, is the only temple dedicated to Lord Shiva, in Tirupati. Annual Brahmotsavams and festivals like Vinayaka Chavithi, Maha Shivaratri, Skhanda Shasthi and Annabhishekam are performed in a grand manner. The sacred waterfall called “Kapila Teertham ” (also known as “Alwar Teertham”) is located here.
Sri Kalyana Venkateswaraswami Temple: 12-km to the west of Tirupati at Srinivasa Mangapuram one can find Sri Kalyana Venkateswaraswami temple, where it is believed that Lord Venkateswara stayed here after his marriage with Sri Padmavati Devi, before proceeding to Tirumala.
FACILITIES FOR PILGRIMS IN TIRUPATI:
Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam manages the affairs of the temple, the well-being of the pilgrims, the upkeep of the environs in and around the Tirumala hills and sponsors several undertakings that are religious, charitable, social and educational in nature.
The TTD provides ample conveyance and halting facilities to thousands of pilgrims. Many pilgrims climb the hill by walk to fulfil the vow they have taken. Facilities like shelters, drinking waters, toilets, canteens, medical facilities etc are provided for a quick and relaxing walk uphill.
The number of pilgrims visiting Tirumala-Tirupati is increasing every year. To avoid stampedes, TTD has constructed the Vaikuntam Queue Complex, which is a series of inter-connected halls that lead to the main temple. Wide range of facilities ranging from canteen services, toilets, Television etc are provided within the queue complex.
Different darshans are arranged for the convenience of the pilgrims, The ‘Sarvadarshan’ (meaning darshan for all, free of cost), special darshan (paid darshan), ‘Sudarshanam’ (free and paid darshan minimizing the waiting time) and special darshan for the physically disabled and the aged.
COMMUTATION AND FOOD:
The buses run by the Tirumala- Tirupathi Devasthanam, starting from Tirupati, carry pilgrims and visitors up the hills through the ghat road which is over 22 Km in length. There are also buses that take you to the different places of sight seeing within Tirumala. All these bus services are free of cost.
Canteen Complex, from 10.00 am to 11.00 pm, everyday. One can avail this facility on production of the free meal coupon, which is distributed inside the temple after worshipping the Lord. About 20,000 pilgrims avail this facility every day.
Srikalahasti: Srikalahasti is one of the most sacred ‘Shiva Kshetras’. It is in ‘Srikalahasti Mandalam’ of Chittoor district, about 60-km from Tirupati. It is situated at the foot of the Kailasagiri hill abutting the river Swarnamukhi, to the west of the Kannapa hill.
Sri Venugopalaswami Temple: Karvetinagaram is 58-km from Tirupati where there is Sri Venugopalaswami temple. The main deity of the temple is Sri Venugopalaswami with His consorts – Sri Rukmini Ammavaru and Sri Satyabhama Ammavaru.
Sri Kalyana Venkateswaraswami Temple: Narayanavanam is 40-km from Tirupati, where Sri Kalyana Venkateswaraswami temple is situated. Lord Sri Venkateswaraswami and Sri Padmavati Ammavaru, daughter of Akasa Maharaja were married here. Sri Kalyana Venkateswaraswami is the main deity here.
Sri Veda Narayanaswami Temple: Sri Veda Narayanaswami temple, located in Nagalapuram 70-km southeast of Tirupati houses an image of the ‘Matsya’ (fish) form of Vishnu, with Sridevi and Bhudevi on either side.
It is believed that Lord Sri Maha Vishnu, in the form of Matsya, killed the ‘Rakshasa’ (demon) Somakudu here, and retrieved the Vedas from the latter.
Sri Chennakesavaswami Temple: Tallapaka village at a distance of 100-km from Tiurpati which is the birth place of Sri Annamacharya, the Sankeertana Acharyulu who was born to Sri Narayanasuri and Lakkamamba. Sri Chennakesavaswami Temple is located in this village and is believed the temple was constructed and administered by the Matti Rajahs about 1000 years ago.
Sri Kariya Manikyaswami Temple: Sri Kariya Manikyaswami temple also called “Sri Perumala Swami temple” is located in Nagiri. It is 51-km from Tirupati and it is believed that at this place, Lord Sri Maha Vishnu killed ‘Makara’ (a crocodile) and saved ‘Gajendra’ (an elephant). This episode is referred to as the ‘Gajendramoksham’ in the ‘Mahabhagavatam’.
Sri Prasanna Venkateswaraswami Temple: 14-km from Tirupati in Appalayagunta there is a temple of Sri Prasanna Venkateswaraswami. It is believed that Sri Venkateswaraswami, after marrying Sri Padmavati Ammavaru, blessed Sri Siddeswara and other sages here.
Chandragiri Fort: Chandragiri was the former capital of the Vijayanagara Empire. It is located at a distance of 12-km from Tirupati, in Chittoor district. The forts and Mahals at the place are attractions for tourists.
Horsley Hills: Horsley hills are located 151-km from Tirupati. Horsley hills are one of the famous hill resorts of Andhra Pradesh . It is named after WD Horsley, who was the collector of Cuddapah district. Horsley chose this spot for his summer residence. It is situated at an altitude of 1,265m, which makes this place delightfully cool, with a maximum summer temperature of 32°C, and minimum of 20°C. the shady slopes found in this are wooded with luxurious vegetation.
Thalakona: Tirupati has many tourist attractions apart from the temple of Lord Venkateswara. Thalakona is a forest located 30-km from Tirupati. Deep in these forests is a 6m perennial waterfall known as “Talakona”. It is an enchanting picnic spot of great scenic beauty. It is believed that this place is the threshold to the seven hills of Tirumala.
Tirumala Tirupati (Tirupathi): Tirupati town is 67-km from Chittoor in Chittoor district, the southern portion of Andhra Pradesh . The most important place of interest at the place is the historic shrine of Sri Venkateswara, the Lord of Seven Hills, who is famous all over the country.
The shrine is located on a hill at Tirumala, a cluster of seven hills known as Seshachalam or Venkatachalam with an elevation of 853m (2,800ft.) above the sea level. Said to be the richest temple in the world, this temple is a vibrant cultural and philanthropic institution with a grand history spanning several centuries. It attracts pilgrims from all over the country who stand in line for hours together to obtain a glimpse of the presiding deity for a few fleeting seconds.
Tirupathi – A Fine Example Of Dravidian Temple Architecture:
The temple at Tirumala is believed to have existed from ancient times. The dynasties like the Pallavas of Kanchipuram, the Cholas of Tanjore, the Pandyas of Madurai and the Kings and chiefs of Vijayanagara, vied with one another in endowing the Shrine and offering worship of the presiding deity. The Tirupati temple with its ‘gopuram’ or tower is a fine example of Dravidian architecture.
The ‘Vimana’ or Cupola over the sanctum sanctorum is covered entirely with gold plate and is known as “the Ananda Nilayam”. The Shrine consists of three ‘Prakarams’ or enclosures. The outermost enclosure contains the ‘Dhvajastambha’ or the banner post and, among others, the statues of Vijayanagara king Krishnadevaraya and his consorts, and of Todarmal, the minister of Akbar. The idol of the deity, the full figure of Lord Venkateswara or ‘Venkataramana’ or ‘Srinivasa’ or ‘Balaji’ (as is called in various parts of the country) has the attributes of both Vishnu and Shiva, preserving and destroying aspects of the Hindu Trinity.
The elaborate rituals and mode of worship in the temple were prescribed by the saint Ramanujacharya and are being followed even today. Anointing the idol with camphor, and the offering by pilgrims of the hair on their heads by getting themselves shaved by licensed barbers are the important customs in vogue at Tirupati Temple.
The Daily Routines – Tirupati Tirumala: The daily program starts with ‘Suprabhatam’ (awakening the Lord) at three in the morning and end with the ‘Ekanta Seva’ (putting the Lord to sleep) at one in the night. Daily, Weekly and Periodical ‘Sevas’ and ‘Utsavams’ are performed to the Lord. Interested pilgrims can choose from the list and pay to get the Sevas or Utsavams done on their name. Devotees offer their gifts and donations in the “Hundi”, which is the main source of income.
FESTIVALS OF TIRUPATHI:
Everyday is a day of festivity at Tirumala. The most famous is the annual festival called ‘Brahmotsavam ‘, which is celebrated on grand scale for nine days in September, attracting pilgrims and tourists from all parts of the country. The fifth and ninth days of the festival are especially significant in as much as Garudostavam and Rathotavam takes place on those days.
IN & AROUND TIRUMALA:
Other Temple Shrines: There are many places of religious and tourist interest in Tirumala. The Varahaswami Temple, Sri Bedi Anjaneyaswami Temple, Sri Anjaneyaswami Temple , Sri Garuda Temple, Sri Yoga Narasimha Swami Temple etc. are the other important shrines in Tirumala. There are also several Teerathams, which are worth a visit.
Swami Pushkarani: Swami Pushkarani, a tank considered highly sacred by the pilgrims is adjacent to the temple. Pilgrims take a bath here before entering the temple.
Akasa Ganga waterfalls are about 3-km to the north of the temple. Papavinasanam waterfalls are about 5-km to the north of the temple.
Silathoranam: Silathoranam, a rare geological formation is situated at 1-km north of the temple.
SHOPPING IN TIRUPATI:
Lepakshi Emporium: Lepakshi Emporium, an ideal place for purchasing attractive handicrafts at moderate prices, it is situated near Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams Central Reception Office. T.T.D Gardens , the beautiful ornamental gardens with rare species of plants and trees are situated nearby.
Asthana Mandapam: Asthana Mandapam (Sadas Hall) is the venue for the devotional programs like discourses, music concerts, ‘Harikathas’ and Bhajans conducted under the auspices of “Dharma Prachara Parishat”.
WHERE TO STAY IN TIRUPATHI:
Accommodation is available at the Cottages, Choultries or Guesthouses in Tirumala. One can stay at the Hotels in Tirupati, which offer excellent accommodation facilities at reasonable prices. Free accommodation is also provided for pilgrims.
TIRUPATI GENERAL INFORMATION:
Summer: Max 43°C and Min 22°C
Winter: Max 32°C and Min 14°C
Clothing: Light Cottons
STD Code: 08574
NEARBY CITIES IN TIRUPATI:
Chandragiri Fort : 12-km
Thalakona : 30-km
Horsely Hills : 151-km
HOW TO REACH TIRUPATI:
Air: Direct flights to Tirupati are available from Hyderabad and Chennai only.
Rail: Tirupati is the nearest railway station. There are trains that travel via Renigunta or Gudur, but do not touch Tirupati. In such cases, Renigunta or Gudur, are convenient points to alight. From Renigunta / Gudur one can reach Tirupati by train, bus, or taxi.
Buses: APSRTC buses run from all the important places in the state and between Tirupati and Tirumala.