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Location : Chittoor, Andhra Pradesh
Languages : Telugu, Tamil, Kannada, English
Area : 450 square kilometers (Tirupati metro)
Altitude : 161 meters
Temperature : In summer, 22-43 degree Celsius; in winters, 14-32 degree Celsius.
Best Time to Visit : Throughout the year
Flanked by seven hills, the divine destination of Tirupati is the jewel of Andhra Pradesh. Believed to the abode of Lord Venkateshwara, the holy shrine of Tirumala is a source of religious inspiration to teeming millions. This consecrated city lies at a distance of about 550 kilometers from Hyderabad. Its hugely popular Venkateshwara Swami Temple is situated in its northwest direction at about ten km from it. This holy city remains crowded with the congregation of devotees; in fact, the place is frequented by the largest number of devotees in comparison to any other pilgrimage destination in the world.
Down the Lane :
There are no clear evidences about Tirupati's temple. The premises of the temple have been refurbished many times. Several powerful empires like Pallava, Chola, and Vijaynagar contributed to its renovation. It was the ruler of Vijaynagar, Krishna Dev Raya, who donated extensive gold and other jewelry to the shrine and made it immensely popular. In 5th century, the temple was the seat of Vaishnavite saints. The city was sung by a number Alvar saints; a number of literary texts have also been written in its praise.
The temple pulled itself through the invasion by Muslim rulers. During this time, the idol installed at Sriranganatha was brought here; in order to commemorate this, a hall named Ranganatha mandapa was built with in the premises of the temple.
Tirumala Tirupati : Nestled among the hills of Eastern Ghats, the shrine of Tirumala is a said to be the one of the wealthiest one in world. Known for its deep rooted culture and a magnificent history, the shrine is vastly popular among devotees from all parts of India. The long waiting lines do not deter the worshippers from reaching this revered place.
As far as architecture of the temple is concerned, it is one of the brilliant masterpieces that were ever built in the history of South India. As you see it for the first time, its vimana will catch your fancy. This gold plated gopuram is commonly called as Ananda Nilayam. There are three enclosures with the outermost one housing "Dhvajastambha". The premises are adorned with lovely sculptures of Krishna Deva Raya and his two wives. You can also the images of Mughal Emperor Akbar and his minister Todarmal. This is an example of the religious tolerance and communal harmony. The statue of the main deity Venkateshwara is the main attraction of the place. The Lord, also called Balaji, is sown to be illustrating the elements of both Shiva and Vishnu.
Visit to this Temple of Tirupati is considered to be invoking blessings on the devotees. The ancient literary texts like Vedas have explained the boons of visiting the premises.
You can make an entrance to the shrine via a Vaikuntam Queue Complex. Here, there are several interconnected set of halls that ultimately lead you to the temple's interior. As the waiting time can be quite tiring, the authorities have provide the pilgrims with facilities like food, beverages, cloak rooms, toilets, medical aid etc. There are flexible timings for darshan of the deity. A total period of 18 hours is allotted in a day which is increased to 20 hours on special occasions. Special darshan can also be done by paying extra money. You may note that "Divya Darshan" is available for those who arrive here bare footed from Gali Gopuram. The timing of visit is printed on the tokens that are available at TTD counters.
In order to kill time while waiting for the darshan, you can visit a number of other temples that are located in the nearby area.
Festivals at Tirumala : Brahmotsavam is the main festival of the temple. This nine day festival is supposed to appease the deity. The festival attracts a big crowd of worshippers.
Varahaswami Temple : Located in the north direction of Tirumala temple, Varahaswami is a sacred shrine the visit to which is considered mandatory before going to Tirumala. The deity that is worshipped here is Varah who is worshipped in three different forms.
Anjaneyaswami Temple : Another temple in the vicinity is Anjaneyaswami Temple; as you enter the interiors, you will see idol of the deity standing with folded hands. It is consider being auspicious to offer prayers at this site.
Kodandarswami Temple : This revered structure was constructed by Chola rulers. Located within the city of Tirupati, the shrine is meant for offering prayers to Hindu deities like Rama, Sita, and Lakshmana.
Kapileshwaraaswami Temple : As you go 3 kilometers in the north direction of Tirupati, you will reach another sacred shrine named Kapileshwaraaswami Temple. The temple is considered special as it is the only shrine in the city that is dedicated to Lord Shiva. The festivals of Brahmotsavam, Skanda Shahsthi, Mahashivrathri etc, are celebrated with fanfare.
Padmavati Temple : It is a temple devoted to Padmavati, the beloved wife of Balaji. Commonly called by the name "Alamelumangapuram", the visit to this sacred spot is considered as a harbinger of blessings and supposed to make the visit to Venkateshwara temple a fruitful activity.
Govindaraja Temple : Situated within the heart of the city, this temple is an important pilgrimage center. The place was sanctified by Ramanujacharya in early 12th century.
Nearby Attractions :
Chandragiri Fort : Lying within 12 kilometers from Tirupati, Chandragiri, a structure built in 1000 AD, is a nice tourist attraction for the tourists. The building rests on a massive rock. Though some part of the fort is in ruins now, there are some portions which have survived the burnt of nature. In the lower portion, you can have the glimpse of two palaces. The fort appears majestic in form and reminds us of its glorious past.
Horsley Hills : Visiting a plethora of temples can be monotonous; Horsley Hills offer you a welcoming break. These hill resorts of the state are located at an altitude of about 1265 meters from sea level. The weather remains pleasant here throughout the year.
Talakona : Another welcoming respite from the monotonic life of cities is the forest of Talakona. The place is a lovable picnic spot and is blessed with natural beauty.
Srikalahasti : Considered as one of the Shiv Kshetras, this sacred pace is located 60 kilometers from Tirupati. It lies at the foothills of Kailasgiri.
There are several guesthouses, cottages and hotels that can be availed at Tirupati. Most of these offer nice accommodation facilities. For the pilgrims to Lord Venkateshwara temple, authorities provide reasonable cottages. Those pilgrims who cannot afford the cost, they are offered free stay.
Taking in consideration the tropical climate of the place, it is advisable to take with you the light cotton cloths.
Cities Nearby :
Horsley Hills (151 kilometers), Thalakona (30 kilometers), Gudur (100 kilometers), Renigunta (10 kilometers).
Visit to Tirupati can be enlightening for you; the divinity of the place will overpower your senses and make your visit a worth remembering experience.