Sri Venkateshwara Temple. Tirupati
The Sri Venkateswara Temple dedicated to a form of Vishnu, Venkateswara Swami (or Balaji ). This Temple has a special mention in the Vedas and Puranas. People believe that in this Kali Yuga one can get Moksha by visiting the lord in this temple with their soul and heart. Due to this almost a lakh of people visit this temple everyday . Visitors not only from Andhra Pradesh, but from all over India and All over world can be seen here devoting their prayers to the god.
Tirumala is a sacred town famous for the Sri Venkateswara temple (or Balaji Temple as known in North India). It is located on top of the Venkatadri hill, the seventh hill of the Saptagiri. The Saptagiri meaning the seven hills are :
Seshadri, Vedadri, Garudadri, Anjandri, Vrishabhadri, Narayandri and Venkatadri
History of the Tirumala temple
The temple is considered to be one of the oldest temples in India. The Story of the tirumala temple says that Lord Vishnu revealed one of his incarnations; The Varaha Swami , on the banks of the water tank just beside the main temple shrine. The temple also has been a sacred location during the Pallavas, Cholas, Pandavas, Vijaynagar rulers and the rulers of the Mysore later.
Natural Beauty of Tirumala
Tirumala is one of the most beautiful places one can be. It is a town with greenery everywhere. The whole town has a sacred smell. If you move around the town you will see many springs. There are in total about 108 small water springs recognized in the Tirumala Region. These are called the thirthas.
Tourist Guide of Tirumala
Nearest Internationl Airport : Chennai. You can take bus (see by Bus) or taxi from there.
Nearest Domestic Airport : Tirupati. You can take bus (see by Bus) or taxi from there.
Nearest Railway Station : Tirupati. You can take bus (see by Bus) or taxi from there.
By Bus: There are direct buses to Tirumala from Tirupati, Nellore, Chennai and Vellore. From any other city you can first come to Tirupati which is very well connected to all the cities through bus and then take a bus to Tirumala. Buses from Tirupati to Tirumala run every 15min from 3am to 11pm. The cost of the ticket is Rs.30.
By walk There is a walkway available from Tirupati to Tirumala. Tourists show there devotion towards god by walking through the seven hills to reach Tirumala.
Tourist Packages to Tirumala: Instead of travelling alone you can book tourist packages. Nearly every tour operater in South India has a package for Tirumala, but it would be better if you take the tourist packages of Government tourisms of Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu or Karnataka which you can get at there respective offices.
Accomodation in Tirumala
Tirumala has a wide range of accommodation facilities. From free accommodation to five-star accommodation everything is available here.
Free Accommodation : Sri Govindaraja Dharmasala, Sri Kodanda Rama Dharmasala and TTD Choultries
Paid Accomodation :
1) Sri Venkateswara Dharmasala (Opp. Tirupati Railway Station),
2) Sri Venkateswara Guest House (North of Railway Station),
3) Sri Kodandarama Dharmasala (South of Railway Station)
4) TTD Alipiri Guest House (near foothills) offer non air-conditioned accommodation.
5) Sri Padmavathi Guest House (on Chittor Road) offer air-conditioned accommodation
6) Sri Varahaswami Guest House
Accommodation can be booked in advance from any of the TTD centres in India. TTD offer cheap accommodation just for Rs.50 and Rs.100 (for non-AC). For AC accommodation and other high cost accommodation can only be made at Central Reception Office, Tirumala.
Alternatively one can accommodate themselves in private hotels both in Tirumala and Tirupati.
Tourist Places in and around Tirumala
1) Shri Vekateswara Swami Temple : This is the main attraction of Tirumala. This temple has a Golden Gopuram. Nearly 1 lakh people come to visit this temple every day. There are different queues to visit the shrine.
The first line is for free. People need not pay a penny but it takes on an average of more than half a day to visit the gopuram.
The second line is for Rs 50 which can be booked in advance at any of the TTD centres in India. Only advance booked tickets (Sudarshan tickets) are allowed in this line.
The third line is for Rs. 300 which can be taken on the spot.
Special ans faster darshanams can be made by contacting the TTD office. But it is strictly recommended to take one of the three lines to see the real form of Tirumala temple.
2) Akasa Ganga ( 3 kms to the north of the temple) a beautiful waterfall and a must watch scenery.
3) Papavinasanam : ( 5 kms to the north of the temple). Artifitially diverted springs of water . People take bath with this wates with the belief that all their papa's (wrong doings) will be erased.
4) Vaikunta Tirtham : (It is at a distance of 3 kms from north-east of the temple)
5) Tumbura Tirtham : (About 16 kms north of the temple)
6) Geological Arch (Silathoranam) : (1 km north of the temple)This rare geological formation is situated at.
7) TTD Gardens : The Devasthanam maintains beautiful, Ornamental gardens with rare species of plants and trees.
8) Astana Mandapam (Sadas Hall) : This is the venue for the devotional programmes like discourses, music concerts, Hari Kathas and Bhajanas conducted under the auspices of Dharma Prachara Parishad.
The APSRTC has arrange a Rs. 20 ticket with which you can visit all the temples around Tirumala.
What and Where to Eat in Tirumala
Non-Vegitarian food is absolutely not allowed in Tirumala premises. No Alcohol consumption is allowed.
1) TTD arranges free meals for everyone in the afternoon as well as night.
2) There are Government restaurants called the Saptagiri Hotel where all the food items are available at reasonable cost.
3) You can also have food at costly private restaurants available within Tirumala.
Recent Updates in Tirumala
1) Initially free food coupons were given in the darshan queues and thus only those who went for the darshan could avail the free meals provided by TTD. But now everyone is allowed to have the free meals.
2) A dress code is been implemented for the Darshan from June 2010. For men, shorts and t-shirts are not allowed they should come in traditional dresses. For Ladies, Sarees are preferred but if they are wearing Salwar, dupatta is a must. Short clothes are absolutely not allowed.
3) The TTD Channel is showing the Live feed of the various pujas and Kalyanams done. Big screens have been put up everywhere in Tirumala showing this channel.
4) Laddus were given only for those who went for the darshan. They were not sold. Now two free laddus are given to the sudersan token holder. In addition to this, tourists can buy four Laddus for Rs. 100.