Tirupati Balaji Temple
Tirupati is situated at 67-km from Chittoor in the state of Andhra Pradesh,India.
Tirupati is one of the important pilgrim centres in India. The ancient and
sacred temple of Sri Venkateswara is located on the seventh peak,Venkatachala (Venkata
Hill) of the Tirupati Hill. This historic shrine of Sri Venkateswara is famous
all over the country and 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
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. It is 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.
All the great dynasties of rulers of the
southern peninsula paid homage to Lord Sri Venkateswara in this ancient shrine.
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.
Tirupathi is a fine example of dravidian temple
architecture. The 'gopuram' or tower of the Tirupati Temple shows a
characteristic feature 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' has the attributes of
both Vishnu and Shiva,preserving and destroying aspects of the Hindu Trinity.
Padi Kavali Maha
The Padi Kavali Maha Dwara or Outer Gopuram
stands on a quadrangular base. Its architecture is that of the later Chola
period. The inscriptions on the gopuram belong to 13th century. There are a
number of stucco figures of Vaishnava gods like Hanuman,Kevale Narasimha and
Lakshmi Narasimha on the gopuram.
Sampangi Pradakshinam :
The path for circumnavigating the temple is
called a pradakshinam. The main temple has three prakarams. Between the
outermost and middle prakarams is the second pathway for circumambulation known
as the Sampangi Pradakshinam. Currently,this pathway is closed to pilgrims. The
Sampangi Pradakshinam contains several interesting mandapams like the Pratima
Mandapam,Ranga Mandapam,Tirumala Raya Mandapam,Saluva Narasimha Mandapam,Aina
Mahal and Dhvajasthambha Mandapam.
Ranga Mandapam :
Ranga Mandapam,also called the Ranganayakula
Mandapam,is located in the south-eastern corner of the Sampangi Pradakshinam.
The shrine within it is believed to be the place where the utsava murti of Lord
Ranganadha of Srirangam was kept during the 14th century,when Srirangam was
occupied by Muslim rulers. It is said to have been constructed between 1320 and
1360 AD by the Yadava ruler Sri Ranganadha Yadava Raya. It is constructed
according to the Vijayanagara style of architecture.
Tirumala Raya Mandapam :
Adjoining the Ranga Mandapam on the western
side,and facing the Dhvajasthambha Mandapam is a spacious complex of pavilions
known as the Tirumala Raya Mandapam or Anna Unjal Mandapam.
It consists of two different levels,the front
at a lower level and the rear at a higher. The southern or inner portion of this
Mandapam was constructed by Saluva Narasimha in 1473 AD to celebrate a festival
for Sri Venkateswara called Anna Unjal Tirunal. This structure was extended to
its present size by Araviti Bukkaraya Ramaraja,Sriranga Raja and Tirumala Raja.
It is in this Mandapam,that the utsava murthi
Malayappan,holds His annual darbar or Asthanam during the hoisting of the
Garudadhwaja on Dhwajastambham to mark the commencement of Brahmotsavam.
Incidentally,the prasadam distributed on this occasion is still called
Tirumala Raya Mandapam :
The Mandapam has a typical complex of pillars
in the Vijayanagara style,with a central pillar surrounded by smaller
pillars,some of which emit musical notes when struck with a stone. The main
pillars have rearing horses with warriors mounted on them. Some of the best
sculptures of the temple are found in bold relief in the Mandapam. The bronze
statues of Todermallu,his mother Matha Mohana Devi and wife Pitha Bibi,are kept
in a corner of the Mandapam.
The Aina Mahal :
The Aina Mahal is on the northern side of the
Tirumala Raya Mandapam. It consists of two parts - an open mandapam in the front
consisting of six rows comprising six pillars each,and a shrine behind it
consisting of an Antarala and Garbhagriha. It has large mirrors which reflect
images in an infinite series. There is an unjal in the middle of the room in
which the Lord is seated and festivals conducted.
Saint Ramanujacharya prescribed all the
elaborate rituals and mode of worship in the temple that are still followed by
the priests and devotees. 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 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.