Tirumala Tirupati Balaji Temple is one of the most popular and sacred Vaishnavite temple in the world. The Temple is located in the town of Tirumala near Tirupati in the Chittoor district of Andhra Pradesh. The presiding deity is Lord Venkateshwara, an incarnation of Lord Vishnu along with his wives, Goddess Lakshmi and Goddess Padmavati. The common belief is that the Lord appeared on the hill to save humankind from the ills of the Kaliyuga. Therefore, the place is also known as the Kaliyuga Vaikuntam. Some of the other names by which the Tirumala Tirupati Balaji Temple is famous are Tirupati Temple and Tirupati Balaji temple.
The Tirumala Tirupati Balaji Temple is located at the peak of Tirumala hill also known as Venkatadri. The Venkatadri is one of the seven peaks (holy Saptagiri) considered holy by the Hindus. The Tirumala Tirupati Balaji Temple follows the Dravidian style of architecture. The Tirumala Tirupati Balaji Temple has three entrances leading to the Ananda Nilayam (main sanctum). The main entrance or the first entrance is the Mahadwara Gopuram with a brass door. The second gate is called Nadimipadi Kavali or the silver entrance. The last entrance that leads to the main sanctum is called the Bangaru Vakili or the golden door. The main idol of the Lord is in a standing position on a pedestal called the “Brahmasthana”. The idol has Goddess Lakshmi inscribed on the right and Goddess Padmavathi on the left. The Gopuram over the main sanctum is covered with a golden vase and an idol of Vimana Venkateshwara is present on top of it.
The main idol is never to be moved out and around the sanctum. Hence, several smaller idols are present in the sanctum for the purpose of worshiping. They are Bhoga Srinivasa, Ugra Srinivasa, Koluvu Srinivasa, Sri Malayappan, Sri Krishna, Sri Rama, Sita, Lakshmanan, Sugreeva and Sri Chakrathalvar (Sudarshana chakra).
Tirumala Tirupati Balaji Temple History
- The Tirumala Tirupati Balaji Temple is believed to have been built by King Thondaiman of the Pallava dynasty, ruler of the Tamil ancient kingdom called Thondaimandalam. The construction is supposed to have been done somewhere around the end of 8th century AD. It is believed that he constructed the initial Gopuram on the main entrance of the Tirumala Tirupati Balaji Temple.
- The Tirumala Tirupati Balaji Temple was highly revered and received patronage from several dynasties like the Pallavas (9th century), the Cholas (10th century) and most importantly the Vijayanagara kingdom in the 14th century. Krishnadevaraya of the Vijayanagara kingdom donated generously and renovated the temple periodically adding new structures to it.
- It is generally believed that Lord Vishnu as Venkateshwara made Tirumala hill Venkatadri as his home five thousand years ago when the Kaliyuga started. Originally, the Tirumala was an abode of Lord Varahaswamy, whose temple is still present at the foothills of the Sri Venkateshwara Temple. The legend goes that Lord Venkateshwara sought a gift of land measuring 100 square feet from Varahaswami, who readily agreed. In return, Venkateshwara assured him with a promise that he would be paid the first darshan, worship and offerings by the devotees. Hence, all the devotees are requested to pay the first darshan to Varahaswamy before proceeding to visit Lord Venkateshwara. A one-foot square copper plaque near the deity can still be seen which is said to be the written agreement deed presented by Lord Venkateswara to Sri Varahaswami.
- The Tirumala Tirupati Balaji Temple and its legends are mentioned in various historical manuscripts such as Varaha Purana, Padma Purana, Garuda Purana, Brahmanda Purana, Markandeya Purana, Vamana Purana, Skanda Purana and Bhavishyottara Purana.
- According to mentions in the Varaha Purana, eight thousand yugas are equivalent to one day and one night for Lord Brahma. During this “One Day” period, a fire consumed Earth and destroyed everything. As the night descended, Vayu (Lord of Winds) blew and brought down fierce rain resulting in a Pralaya, that sank the Earth into the Paatala Lokam.
- Lord Vishnu assumed the form of a boar (Varaha) and proceeded to the Paatala Lokam, where he defeated demon king Hiranyaksha. He brought the Earth to the surface on his tusks. In order to re-establish Earth, Varaha asked Brahma to recreate the Universe. On Varaha’s commands, Garuda fetched Kridachala (a hill resembling the shape of Adisesha, embedded with precious stones) from Vaikuntam. The Kridachala was installed on the East of Swami Pushkarini (Temple Tank) on which Adi Varaha and Bhumadevi established themselves at Venkatadri to answer the prayers of the devotees.
- Another legend associated with the Tirumala Tirupati Balaji Temple is that during the Dwaparayuga, Lord Vayu went to Vaikuntam to visit Lord Vishnu but was stopped by Adisesha who was guarding them. Lord Vayu entered into a battle with Adisesha. Lord Vishnu intervened and then decided to test them both for their strength. He suggested that Adisesha should surround the Ananda hill and Vayudev should try to dislodge the hill from his hold. The winds that Vayu blew were fierce and destructive. To save the world, Brahma, Indra and other Gods helped Vayu to dislodge Adisesha’s hold. Lord Vishnu and Lord Brahma appeased the crestfallen Adisesha by giving him a boon that he will join the Venkatdri hills and become an abode of Lord Vishnu. Adisesha then morphed into the Seshadri range and his hood becoming Venkatdri.
- At the onset of the Kaliyuga, Lord Vishnu decided to leave Venkatdri for Vaikuntam. Lord Brahma was saddened and asked Narada to convince Vishnu to return. Narada went to the banks of Ganga where he saw Rishi Bhrigu performing a Yagna. Rishi Bhrigu was unable to decide the benefactor of the Yagna. He went to Satyalokam and found that Lord Brahma was busy chanting Vedas, uttering names of Narayana and looking at Saraswati. He went to Kailasam and found that Lord Shiva was busy sporting with Goddess Parvathi. He went to Vaikuntam and found that Lord Vishnu and Goddess Lakshmi were reclining unmindful of his visit. He grew angry and kicked Vishnu on his chest. Lord Vishnu immediately got up and massaged Rishi’s foot all the while enquiring whether he was hurt. Rishi was impressed by his composure and decided to dedicate the Yagna to Lord Vishnu.
- However, Goddess Lakshmi was very angry over what occurred and left Vaikuntam to Karavirapura (Kolhapur). To search her, Vishnu left Vaikuntam and started dwelling in an Ant-hill next to a tank. Lord Brahma and Lord Shiva disguised themselves as a Cow and its Calf. They were sold to the King of a Chola kingdom. The Holy Cow emptied her milk every day into the Ant-hill to feed Vishnu. The Cowherd saw this one day and became furious. He aimed his axe on the cow wanting to kill it. Lord Vishnu immediately averted this, getting hit in the process. On seeing Lord Vishnu hurt, the cowherd fell don and died. The Cow returned to the King with Vishnu’s bloodstains. The King was curious and went to the spot. Lord Vishnu cursed the King to become a demon until Vishnu is adorned with the Giridam by Akasa Raja at the time of his marriage with Padmavati.
- The Chola king was reborn as Akasa Raja. He found a baby in a Lotus flower and named her Alamel Mangai (Lady born in Lotus). Lord Vishnu incarnated as Srinivasa, son of Vakula Mallika Devi (Yashoda in the previous life). Princess Padmavati and Srinivasa met in the forests during a hunt and fell in love with each other. Srinivasa disguised as a fortune-teller came to visit ill Padmavati while Vakula Devi went to Akasa Raja with her proposal for Srinivasa’s marriage. The fortune-teller told that Padmavati was destined to marry Vishnu as Srinivasa. Delighted Akasa Raja gave his approval and both of them got married.
- After six months of the marriage, Goddess Lakshmi returned to Vishnu in disbelief. Lord Vishnu turned himself into a granite statue in front of his two spouses. Lord Brahma and Lord Shiva explained the circumstances of the wedding with Padmavati. Goddess Lakshmi and Padmavati turned themselves into granite to be with their lord and resided on the left and the right sides respectively.
Significance of Tirumala Tirupati Balaji Temple
- It is believed that Lord Vishnu wished to be present on the seven holy hills for helping the humankind through trials and tribulations during the Kaliyuga. These seven hills are seven heads of Adisesha and are named – Seshadri, Neeladri, Garudadri, Anjanadri, Vrushabhadri, Narayanadri and Venkatadri. The Tirumala Tirupati Balaji Temple is located on the Venkatadri Hill.
- The Tirumala Tirupati Balaji Temple is one of the eight Vishnu Swayambhu Kshetras or Ashtakshara Swayam Vyakta Kshetras. The other Kshetras are Srirangam, Salagramam, Srimushnam, Nanguneri, Muktinath, Pushkar and Badrinath. The Swayambhu nature means that the idol of Sri Vishnu is of God himself (he himself has turned into a statue) rather than an idol sanctified and installed by people.
- The Tirumala Tirupati Balaji Temple is listed as 106th Divya Desam among the 108 Divya Desams of Lord Vishnu. The Tirumala Temple is the last earthly Desam of Lord Vishnu before he left Earth for Vaikuntam at the beginning of the Kaliyuga.
- The Brahmotsavam celebrated at the Tirumala Tirupati Balaji Temple attracts millions of pilgrims over a duration of 9 days. The celebration is considered unique in which Lord Venkateswara along with Goddess Lakshmi and Padmavathi are taken out in processions in different “Vahanam” every day. The spiritual value and experience are considered to be unparalleled. It is considered that by witnessing the processions with genuine prayers, one gets the Lord’s protection, high moral values and his “Punya” meaning Good Deeds.
- It is believed that the idol of the presiding deity Lord Venkateshwara has been present here and worshiped since the beginning of the Kaliyuga (the last of the four Yugas comprising the Mahayuga mentioned in the Sanskrit scriptures) and will remain here till the Yuga ends.
- It is the richest temple in the world in terms of donations received and wealth, and the most-visited place of worship in the world. The Tirumala Tirupati Balaji Temple is visited by about 50,000 to 100,000 pilgrims daily (30 to 40 million people annually on average), while, on special occasions and festivals, like the annual Brahmotsavam, the number of pilgrims shoots up to 500,000, making it the most-visited holy place in the world.
- The Venkateswara Sahasranamam Archana is unique only to the Tirumala Tirupati Balaji Temple. In this Seva or Pooja, 1008 names of Lord Vishnu are recited. The blessings are also invoked in the names and Gothrams of the pilgrims who take part in this Seva.
- The pilgrims must observe that the main idol of the deity Sri Venkateshwara is on the right corner of the sanctum instead of being at the center of it. It is also believed that the temperature of the idol is always too high for a stone idol even after bathing the idol with water and Chandan. It is also believed that one can hear the sound of the ocean by pressing an ear to the back of the lord.
- A large Hundi is present in the Tirumala Tirupati Balaji Temple Complex where devotees money and gold to the God. As per the legend, Lord Venkateshwara took a loan from Kubera for his wedding arrangements with Padmavathi. Devotees donate with the belief that he can pay back the loan to Kubera.
Tirumala Tirupati Balaji Temple Timings
- The Tirumala Tirupati Balaji Temple opens at 3 AM in the morning and closes at 1:30 AM the next day although General Darshan or Sarvadarshan is stopped after 1 AM.
- All the pilgrims are requested to report to any one of the three counters – Vaikuntham Queue Complex, Rambagicha or Amenities Complex and get their respective Sudarshan bands. These bands will inform them approximately the time they will have darshan of the God. Pilgrims do not have to stay in queues after the purchase of the band at a cost of Rupees Two. They can move around the Tirumala Tirupati Balaji Temple Complex and report to the Queue when they are expected to have Darshan.
- Sarvadarshanam or the General Darshan timings are different each day of the week. The pilgrims are to stand in a queue at the Vaikuntham Queue Complex II. The Darshan starts from 7:30 AM till 7 PM in the evening and again from 8 PM till 1 AM next morning on Mondays, Tuesdays, Saturdays and Sundays. The Sarvadarshanam begins at 9 AM till 7 PM and 8 PM to 1 AM next morning on Wednesdays and Fridays. On Thursdays, the Darshan starts early at 8 AM till 7 PM and then again from 8 PM till 1 AM next morning.
- Seeghra Darshan or the Special Entry Darshan – The Special entry tickets can be booked at a cost of Rupees 300 per person. Advance booking can be done by visiting the link https://www.ttdsevaonline.com/. The Darshan starts from 9 AM daily till 3 PM.
- Divya Darshan – These tickets are exclusively given to pedestrians who walk up the hill via two routes – The Alipiri or The Sreevaru Mettu. Free bus facilities, luggage counters, accommodation, tonsuring, and meals are available for pilgrims.
- Special Darshan for Handicapped and Aged citizens – This Darshan is allowed in two slots at 10 AM and 3 PM daily from the main entrance of the Tirumala Tirupati Balaji Temple. Pilgrims are required to produce the proof of their condition to the authorities.
Tirumala Tirupati Balaji Temple Dress Code
The Tirumala Tirupati Balaji Temple Devasthanam administration has introduced a dress code for men and women from 2013. The men are required to attire traditional dhoti or pyjama with shirt or kurta. The women are required to wear either a saree or a half-saree. Churidar or pyjama with kurta is also acceptable.
Poojas and Rituals at Tirumala Tirupati Balaji Temple
The Poojas and Rituals performed at the Tirumala Tirupati Balaji Temple can be divided into three types: The Daily Sevas, The Weekly Sevas and Periodical Sevas.
The Daily Sevas are as below:
- Suprabhatam – The Seva is performed at 2:30 AM in the morning in front of the Sayana Mandapam inside the main Sanctum. The ritual is performed to wake up the God from his sleep. After the Seva, the silver replica of the idol (Srinivasa Murthy) is taken from the Sayana Mandapam to the Ananda Nilayam. The Tickets cost Rupees Two Hundred per person and can be booked in advance.
- Thomala Seva – This Seva starts at 3:30 AM in the morning and lasts for about 30 minutes. The deities of the Ananda Nilayam are decorated with special garlands made of Tulasi and flowers. The public is allowed to view the ceremony only on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. The Ticket price is Rupees 220 per person.
- Venkateshwara Sahasranama Archana – The Archana is performed from 4:15 AM. The reporting time for pilgrims is 4 AM. The Seva can be performed by pilgrims on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. The Ticket price for this unique Archana is R 220 per person.
- Ekantha Seva – This is the last Seva of the Day at 1:30 pm. The silver image of Lord Srinivasa is laid down in a golden cot in a sleeping position.
- Arjitha Kalyanotsavam – The ritual signifies the marriage of Lord Venkateshwara with Goddess Lakshmi and Padmavathi. The ticket cost is Rs.1000 for 2 persons.
- Arjitha Brahmotsavam – Lord Venkateshwara and Goddess Lakshmi and Padmavathi are all worshiped with several Poojas and Stotrams in this ritual. The Ticket cost is Rs.1000 for 5 persons.
- Unjal Seva – The idols of the three deities are placed in an Unjal (Swing) against a backdrop of lamps. The ticket cost is Rs. 1000 for 5 persons.
Different weekly Sevas are performed on weekdays for the main deities. They are as below:
- Vishesha Pooja on Mondays – During the Poojas, 14 Kalasas is dedicated to the deities. 7 of them consists of gingerly oil, milk, curd, ghee, rice,darbha and panchagavya. The other 7 have holy water in them. Several Stotras are recited and an Abhishekam is performed in the end. The Pooja takes place at 7:30 AM till 9 AM.
- Ashtadala –Pada Padmaaradhana on Tuesdays – This Seva is performed between 6:30 AM – 7:30 AM. The 108 names of the Lord Vishnu are recited, each name accompanied by a Lotus flower. Archana is offered to Goddess Lakshmi and Padmavathi followed by the Ratha Aarti. The cost of the ticket is Rs. 2500 for 5 persons.
- Sahasra Kalabhishekam on Wednesdays – In the unique ritual, 1008 silver vessels filled with Abhisheka Thirtha along with eight more Parivara vessels and one gold vessel filled with water are placed in the Mandapam in front of main door of the shrine. Recital of Pancha Suktas and the Pancha Shanthi Mantras take place. The Ticket price is Rs. 5000 for 6 persons. The ritual starts from 6:30 AM till 8:30 AM.
- Tiruppuvada Seva on Thursdays – The unique Seva is performed at 6:30 AM. The cost is Rs. 5000 for 6 persons. The uniqueness lies in the fact that all the ornaments and flowers from the deity are removed and the God is clad only in a Dhoti and an Uttareeyam. His eyes that are normally semi covered by decoration are fully visible during the ritual.
- Srivari Abhishekam on Fridays – The ritual is performed between 4:30 AM – 6 AM. The ticket cost is Rs. 750 per person. The deity is bathed with holy Ganga and other items such as milk, ghee, chandan and saffron.
- Besides the above Sevas, Hair Tonsuring can also be performed at the Tirumala Tirupati Balaji Temple. Devotees can get their hair tonsured as an offering to the God.
- The Thulabharam Seva can also be performed at the Tirumala Tirupati Balaji Temple. In this ritual, a Thula (Weighing balance) is arranged. On one side, the devotee is seated whereas on the other side, an equivalent amount of offerings are stacked upon until both the sides are at equal level. The offerings are donated to the Temple administration.
Festivals celebrated at Tirumala Tirupati Balaji Temple
- Tirumala Brahmotsavam – The festival is celebrated for nine days every year during the Tamil month of Purattasi (September / October). According to legend, Lord Brahma worshiped Lord Vishnu on the banks of the Tirumala Tirupati Balaji Temple Tank, Swami Pushkarini to show his gratitude for his protection of mankind. During the nine days, several Utsavams and special Poojas are celebrated. The deity is taken on a procession on different Vahanas every day like Sesha Vahanam, Hamsa Vahanam, Simha Vahanam, Muthyala Pallaki Vahanam, Kalpa Vruksha Vahanam, Sarva Bhoopala Vahanam, Garuda Vahanam, Hanumantha Vahanam, Gaja Vahanam, Surya Vahanam, Chandra Vahanam, Rathotsavam and Chakra Snanam. On the last day, special Abhishekams are performed as this day is considered to be the Birth Star day of Lord Venkateshwara. The celebration concludes with “Dhvajavarohanam,” the lowering of the Garuda flag.
- Teppotsavam – The festival is celebrated for 5 days in the month of Chaitra (March). The different deities of the Tirumala Tirupati Balaji Temple are taken for a ride in the Swami Pushkarini Tank on the float.
- Vasanthotsavam – The annual festival is celebrated for three days in the month of March / April. The Fete was supposed to have been introduced by King Achyutaraya to celebrate the beginning of the spring season.
- Pavithrotsavam – The festival is celebrated for three days in the month of Shravan (July / August). Various special features like Tirumanjanam and Homam are performed. The priests seek the pardon of Lord Venkateshwara for all omissions committed knowingly or unknowingly during the performance of daily rituals during the year.
- Jyesthabhshekam – The festival is celebrated in the month of Jyestha (June) at Tirumala Tirupati Balaji Temple. It is believed that Lord Venkateshwara emerged with a protective armor to fight against evil in Kaliyuga. On this day, the Abhishekam and Poojas are performed to the armor.
The other major festivals celebrated at the Tirumala Tirupati Balaji Temple are Pushpa Pallaki, Padmavathi Parinayam, Pushpa Yagam and Koil Alwar Thirumanjanam.
How to reach Tirumala Tirupati Balaji Temple – Road, Rail and Air
- By Air – The nearest airport is the Tirupati airport, situated at a distance of about 40 km from Tirumala Tirupati Balaji Temple. Direct flights are available from cities like Hyderabad, Chennai, Bengaluru, New Delhi and Vizag. The Tirupati airport will soon be upgraded to an International airport. Presently, Chennai is the nearest International airport.
- By Rail – The nearest railway station is Tirupati, 26 km away from Tirumala. Tirupati is well connected to major cities like Chennai, Hyderabad, Bengaluru and Vishakapatnam. The AP Sampark Kranti Express connects to Bhopal, Gwalior and New Delhi.
- By Road – Several direct buses are available from cities like Chennai, Bengaluru and Vellore. Regular buses are available from Tirupati to Tirumala.
Where to stay near Tirumala Tirupati Balaji Temple
The Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams (TTD) has constructed several cottages and guest houses for the benefit of the pilgrims. The list is as below
- Sri Padmavathi Guest House Area
- Sri Venkateshwara Guest House Area
- Sri Varahaswami Guest House Area
Besides the above guest houses, several choultries have been constructed for the free stay of pilgrims. The pilgrims have to contact the Central Reception Office, located near the Tirumala Bus Stand. The advance reservation can be booked by visiting the link https://ttdsevaonline.com/
Several private hotels are also available as an option for pilgrims.
Where to eat
The Tirumala Tirupati Balaji Temple Devasthanam (Temple administration) provides full meals to all devotees under the Nitya Annadanam Scheme.
Free tiffin, coffee, tea and milk are provided to pilgrims in the queue complex.
A large number of private hotels have been established to assist the pilgrims. The cuisine is mainly vegetarian.
- Sri Bhu Varaha Swamy Temple – Sri Bhu Varaha Swamy temple is located on the banks of Swami Pushkarini near the Tirumala Tirupati Balaji Temple. According to the Brahma Purana, Lord Sri Bhu Varaha Swamy granted land to Lord Sri Venkateswara Swamy to stay in the hill. As a return gesture, Lord Sri Venkateswara Swamy promised that the privilege of first Darshan should belong to Lord Sri Bhu Varaha Swamy.
- Sri Bedi Anjaneya Swamy Temple – The Temple is located opposite to the Tirumala Tirupati Balaji Temple. As per the legend, young Lord Hanuman (Anjaneya) was tied down in handcuffs by his mother Anjana Devi because he wanted to leave in search of a camel.The idol is unique with hands of Hanuman tied.
- Sri Padmavathi Devi Temple – The Temple is located 5 km away from the Tirumala Temple in the town of Tiruchanoor. The presiding deity is Goddess Padmavathi, wife of Lord Srinivasa. The Temple is also known as Alamelumangapuram. According to a legend, Goddess Mahalakshmi appeared on a Golden Lotus as Padmavathi at the center of the Temple tank.
- Sri Prasanna Venkateshwara Swamy Temple – This unique temple is located 16 km from Tirupati. The uniqueness of the Temple is that the presiding deity Sri Prasanna Venkateshwara Swamy is in the “Abhaya Hasta” posture. This Temple is the site of marriage between Sri Srinivasa and Padmavathi. The pilgrims believe that a glimpse of the Lord will fulfill wish since the Lord is in Abhaya Hasta posture.
- Sri Govindarajaswami Temple – The temple is located in Tirupati. The Temple was built in 1130 AD by Saint Ramanujacharya. The presiding deity Sri Govindaraja Swamy is the elder brother of Sri Venkateshwara Swamy. Under his guidance, the heavenly marriage between Lord Venkateshwara and Padmavathi was accomplished.It is believed that worshiping him can result in better management of one’s finances.
- Sri Kapileswara Swamy Temple – The Temple is located in Tirupati. As per the legend, this is the place where Lord Shiva and Goddess Shiva appeared to Maharishi Kapila. The Shiva Linga is supposed to have been self-manifested.
- Sri Kodanda Ramaswamy Temple – The Temple was built in the 10th century by the Chola dynasty. The presiding deities are Lord Rama, Goddess Sita and Sri Lakshman Swamy. Special features of architecture belonging to the Vijayanagara Empire can be found here.