Having its air filled with pious chants of Shlokas and colors and fragrances of every kind of flowers, Tirupati is the religious place having affluence of everything. This is the place where devotees take pride in repaying their God’s debt, because they love Him so much! Tirupati’s riches are apparent in terms of gold and jewels, but you get an insight to see the spiritual riches, when you step into this most popular temple of the world.
General Information of Tirupati: Tirupati is the world-famous pilgrimage place for the Hindus, as well as non-Hindus, in the Chittoor District of the south Indian state, Andhra Pradesh. Tirumala, a hill town near Tirupati, hosts the world-famous Tirumala Venkateswara Temple, devoted to Lord Venkateswara, also known as Balaji, a form of Lord Vishnu. The altitude of Tirumala Hill is 980 meters (3200 feet). It has seven peaks, which are the symbols of the seven hoods of Adishesha (the giant cobra on which Lord Vishnu rests), and so, it is also named Seshachalam. The names of these peaks are Seshadri, Neeladri, Garudadri, Anjanadri, Vrushabadri, Narayandri and Venkatadri. The temple is atop Venkatdri, the seventh hill of Tirumala and therefore, is also called Saptagiri, i.e. the Temple of Seven Hills. The temple is world’s most worshipped place of pilgrimage and the richest after Padmanabhaswami Temple, Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala. It gets 50,000 to 100,000 pilgrims daily. And on special occasions, like festivals, this figure rises to 500,000. The king of Thondaimandalam (present day Kanchipuram), Thondaiman, is believed to build the temple first, when he saw Lord Vishnu in his dream. Several noted composers composed kirtanas for the Lord, some of them being Tyagaraja and Annamacharya. Annamacharya was a famous devotee of the Lord and composed His prayers exclusively.
According to legend, Lord Kubera (the treasurer of Gods) credited money to Lord Venkatesh for his wedding to Padmavati. Therefore, devotees donate money here so that the Lord can return it back to Kubera. One more tradition which is common at the temple is of hair tonsuring. Daily over a ton of hair is collected. The temple authorities conduct auctions a few times a year of the hair, where international customers buy them for using them in making hair extensions and in cosmetics. These auctions bring around six million dollars to the temple treasury. As per the Puranas, the hair too is offered to cover up the lost hair of Lord Venkateshwara. The Prasadam of the temple is Laddu, which is world-famous. The Temple Trusthas recently acquired copyright of the Laddu Prasadam, so that nobody else can prepare this particular Laddu. Many other delicious Prasadams are also available like daddojanam (curd-rice), vada, pulihora (tamarind rice) and chakra-pangali (sweet pongal). Meals are free and given daily to the devotees.
Various Names of Lord Venkatesha
The various names given to Lord Venkatesha are Balaji, Venkateswara, Venkatachalapathi and Sriniwasa. The name Srinivasa means ‘One in whom Shri (Lakshmi) resides’ as Shri or Lakshmi, the consort of Lord Vishnu, resides on the chest of the Lord. Goddess Lakshmi and Goddess Padmavati, the two consorts, reside on His chest on each side. The Lord is also called Kali Yuga Varada, i.e. boon-giver of Kali Yuga (the fourth worst age in which sins rule supreme).