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 Tirumala - The abode of Lord Venkateshwara

Aarjitha Sevalu Srivari Seva

Located in the Eastern Ghats of Andhra Pradesh is the grandLord Balaji temple of Lord Vekateshwara or Balaji. The temple is located on the seventh peak, Venkatadri (Venkata Hill) and hence the deity is also known as 'Lord of the Seven Hills'. These hills are said to resemble the shape of the mythical serpent Shesha and so the deity is also referred to as 'Sheshachalavasa'.

The topography of Tirumala shows that the temple is at an altitude of 3,200 feet above sea level. Research on the inscriptions of the temple dates the temple structure to be of the 8th century AD and reveals some distinctive architectural features of the Vijayanagar period.

Stepped pathway to the TempleThere are two main ways to reach Tirumala. One way is a road designed for vehicles with a distance of 12 miles and the other, a stepped pathway, seven miles long. It is estimated that on an average, 50,000 pilgrims visit the temple every day and the number exceeds one lakh during the 'Brahmotsavam' festival. Tirumala is considered to be the richest Hindu temple in the world. And richer is the 'prasadam' - fondly called Tirupati Laddu, made of cashew nuts, raisins, boondi and sugar syrup.

The image of the Lord is in the Sthanaka (standing posture). On either sides of his shoulder are the sankhu (shell) and chakra (wheel). Goddess Lakshmi is seated on his right chest. Adorned by precious jewellery, Balaji wears a big emerald called 'Meru Pacha' Vimana (tower) wrapped in gold sheetconsidered to be the biggest emerald in the world. The most exquisite of his jewels is the intricately carved diamond crown (aparanji) encrusted with 28,369 diamonds!), costing approximately
Rs 5.73 crores

Not just the Lord, even the Vimana (tower) above the temple and the huge pillar in front of the deity are wrapped in gold sheets.

It is customary for devotees to make a vow and offer their hair on the fulfilment of their wish. Tonsuring is done free of cost at the Kalyana Katta. Before entering the main temple, the pilgrims take a dip in the Swami Pushkarini tank believed to clean them of their sinsSwami Pushkarini Tank and bestow prosperity.

Every morning, the day commences with 'Suprabhatham', a pre dawn seva (service) meant to awaken the Lord from his 'yoganidra' (the Lord's sleep). The Balaji Suprabhatham is an impressive devotional poem comprising of twenty-nine slokas sung by the famous singer
M S Subbalakshmi.
The most important festival of Tirumala is the annual Brahmotsavam celebrations, during the month of September. During this time, the hills resound with the constant chant of 'Govinda'. It is a nine-day long utsavam (celebration) with the fifth, eighth and eleventh day being most important. It is considered fortunate by devotees to visit and be a part of this celebration.

Tirumala under the management of Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams offers good infrastructure, amenities and services to pilgrims. It is a much sought after pilgrimage centre with an exceptional combination of architecture, history, richness and celebration.

How to reach Tirupathi from Hyderabad:
conducts 3 days' trip twice a week.
Places covered: Tirupati, Tirumala, Trichanur (Includes special darshan, hill transport and accommodation).
Departure Time: 8 a.m. (Friday and Sunday).
Arrival Time: 7 a.m. (Sunday and Tuesday).

For booking and other information, contact APTTDC counters at:
Tankbund Road. Phone: 345 3036
Yatri Nivas, S.P. Road: Phone: 781 6375

Kamini M V

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