Vaikunta is the abode of God Vishnu. Tirupati is said to be ‘Bhoovaikunta’ or the Vaikunta on earth and devotees believe that Vishnu himself is present as Srinivasa and blesses them. Balaji, Srinivasa, Govinda, Venkateshwara all are the names of Lord Vishnu – the destroyer of sins of the people. He is the main deity of the Tirumala temple, Tirupati, India. According to the Hindu scriptures, in this age of Kali Yuga, the supreme form of Vishnu has appeared for the salvation and the elevation of humanity.
Tirumala is a combination of seven hills on which the temple is located. Tirupathi is at the base of Tirumala temple. Tirumala hill is one amongst the seven hills also known as Sapthagiri. The sacred temple of Sri Venkateswara located on the seventh peak of the Tirupati Hill is believed as the great donor of blessings.
Tirupati Temple History
Millions of pilgrims visit the temple of Lord Venkateswara at Tirumala. Tirupati is one of the ancient temples and is mentioned in various scriptures. The temple was patronized by many kings who ruled different parts of India. The Tirumala Devasthanam was built by King Thondaiman after he had a dream of Lord Vishnu in the 8th century. One of the legends associated with the Lord at Tirumala is that the temple is a self-manifested idol of Vishnu. The temple is the world’s richest with regards to the wealth, which is the offerings and presents given by visiting devotees. Srinivasa is the presiding god at the sanctum sanctorum of Tirumala Temple and one can also see the idols of Sridevi and Bhudevi, the consorts of Vishnu.
Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam (TTD) is an independent trust which manages the Tirupati Mandir temple town. About 65,000 pilgrims visit the temple on an average day. On special occasions, the number of pilgrims goes to more than 3,00,000.
All necessary facilities required for the pilgrims are provided by the Tirupati Devasthanam authorities on route Tirumala from Tirupati. Luggage handed over at the TTD office downhill at Alipiri can be collected uphill at Tirumala by the devotees wishing to go on foot. To reach Tirumala from Tirupati by the walk of 11 km one can take the steps from Alipiri – Tirupati which consists of about 3350 steps through forests.
Darshan at Tirupati
Getting darshan of the Lord is not a very easy procedure. One has to wait at the queue complex for hours, depending upon the rush.
Tirupati Temple offers Special darshan at INR 300, which reduces the waiting time.
For the physically challenged devotees and for senior citizens TTD has made provisions for special entry into the temple through a separate gate. The time slots for these categories of people is 10 AM and 3 PM. Devotees who wish to take advantage of this facility must carry their medical certificates or age proof – and present themselves at the entrance 2 hours before the given time slot.
How to reach Tirumala Temple
Tirupati the nearest railway station and Renigunta is the nearest airport situated at about 15 km from Tirupati. From Tirupati, one can go to Tirumala either by road or by foot. Regular bus services from Tirupati to Tirumala are available at a frequency of every 2 minutes.
Many devotees opt to climb the hill by foot to fulfill their vows to the God. People of all age, all health condition are seen climbing the steps to have darshan of Srinivasa. The entire stretch of walkway is covered and protected and food, water, medical aid is available during climbing.
Tirupati can also be reached by road from nearby cities by driving through NH 205.
Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Tamilnadu State Road Transport Corporation run regulars services to Tirupati.
Places to visit in Tirupati
In addition to the most famous Tirumala temple, there are many other places to visit in Tirupati. They are Papanasanam, Akasganga, Gogarbham, Shilathoranam, View Point, Sri Venkateshwara Museum, and Tirumala. Kapilatheetham, Hare Rama Hare Krishna Mandir, Regional Science Centre, Sri Venkateshwara Zoological Park, Chandragiri Fort, Tiruchanur, Govindaraja Swamy Temple etc. are worth seeing in and around Tirupathi.
Time to visit Tirupati, India
Visitors to this temple town can plan their trip from November to February as the winter is pleasant and ideal for temple tours. However, the temple is open all through the year and is thronged by devotees around the year. Better to check the rush before planning the visit. All information is available on the website of the temple.
There are many temple run accommodation complexes like Srinivasa Complex, Madhavam Complex at Tirupati. Many more state-run accommodation complexes and TTD managed restrooms of all ranges are available at Tirumala also. Many free accommodations are also available for pilgrims. Tirupathi Temple has cottages in Tirumala that can be rented by pilgrims. Online darshan can be booked with the temple 14 days in advance.
Some important information you need to know while visiting Tirumala:
- The dress code has to be followed for visiting the temple.
- Consumption of alcohol is banned in Tirupati
- Eating of non-veg items is not allowed.
- Women are not supposed to adorn flowers as the belief is that all the flowers of the hills are only for the Lord.
- Camera, mobiles are not allowed while going for Darshan. They have to be deposited at the counter before entering the queue.
- The Temple trust provides free meals for all the visitors and the food is served continuously.
Do not miss to taste the Tirupati Laddu which is unique and patented.
Other attractions at Tirupati
Pilgrims are advised not to miss these temples near Tirupati – Padmavati Amman Temple and Govindarajaswamy Temple. If you have time you can visit Sri Kalahasti, which is around 50 kms. From Tirupati.
Tirupati is not only a place of religious value but also attracts nature lovers. The climbing of the hill by foot is a unique experience which is worth the try. People are so religious that they will climb the hill bare-footed. Some are seen climbing the hill carrying children which is a part of fulfilling vows to Srinivasa for the blessings they got.