The temple of Tirupati is located on the holy hill of Tirumala in the Eastern ghats of south India. Hundreds of thousands of devotees flock to this pilgrim center every year. It is one of the largest and most visited temples of India and is also the richest. The temple is dedicated to Lord Vishnu who is known as Balaji or Srinivasa here. Tirumala consists of seven peaks which are thought to represent the seven hoods of the snake Adishesha. Lord Vishnu reposes under these hoods.
Location : State/District
The holy hill of Tirumala and the Sri Venkataswamy temple of Tirupati is located in the Chittoor district of Andhra Pradesh in the southern part of India.The latitude of Tirupati is 13° 39' 0" N and its longitude is 79° 25' 0" E.
Tirupati is one of the leading pilgrim centers of India. It is a hugely popular religious tourist spot which is patronized by several leading personalities of India and is visited by millions of devotees every year.
Popular Hindu Pilgrim Center
Families and individuals with a religious turn of mind are commonly seen to visit this spot.
Since the temple of Tirupati is located on the Tirumala hills, the weather remains mostly cool and pleasant though summers may become uncomfortably hot at times. The summer season lasts from March to June and is warm with bright sunshine. Mild to moderate showers occur during the monsoon months from June to September. Winters last from November to February and the weather can be quite cold though bright sunshine provides relief. The best time to visit Tirupati is during winter when the temperature is most comfortable and the days are bright and sunny.
Though Indian citizens do not need any special document or permit to travel to Tirupati, it is advisable to carry a government issued photo identity card. Being the richest temple in India, security is tight and you may need to show your identity in order to enter the temple. Foreign nationals must carry a valid passport with Indian visa.
Places to Visit
The most important place to visit in Tirupati is the Venkateshwara temple where the presiding deity is known as Balaji. The history of the temple is more than 2000 years old. Long line of devotees can be seen around the temple and on special days and festivals, the line can extend for a few kilometers. The temple itself is small and the inner sanctum has a rich yet mysterious feel to it. The number of visiting devotees increases hugely during the times of festivals like the Brahmotsavam. Though the small hill handles millions of devotees, the entire process is very well organized by the Tirupati Tirumala Devasthanam Development authorities. The town itself is a beautiful place to see. The TTD garden is another interesting sight in Tirupati. It is spread over 460 acres. A variety of pretty flowering trees can be found here. The garden supplies 500 kgs of flowers to the religious shrines in Tirumala Tirupati. It must be mentioned that all flowers are for the Lord and it is not considered good practice to wear flowers.
The natural rock formations of Shilathoranam are another interesting sight in Tirupati. These are geological marvels whose peculiar shape has inspired several mythological stories and explanations. Symbols of Lord Vishnu like the snake, the conch and the chakra are noted here.
Sri Govindaraja Swamy temple is another attractive temple in Tirupati. It is dedicated to the elder brother of Sri Venkataswamy. There are two shrines here. One is devoted to Lord Vishnu who is known is Govindaraja Swamy here and the other is devoted to Lord Krishna.
Darshan and worship at the temple is most important activity that you can carry put at Tirupati. Often the line for Darshan is long and it can take a few hours to complete this. The next step is to partake of the prasaad in the form of the huge laddoos which are obtained from the temple. Many other types of prasaads are also available and can be bought.
One common activity that many pilgrims engage in is to shave their heads. This is actually a form of worship and is very popular here.
You can also simply wander around the wonderfully well organized town of Tirupati and soak up the ambience of this leading pilgrim town of India.
In addition to the main temple, there are a number of important places which you can visit. Worship at the Tirupati temple is considered to be incomplete without worshipping at the temple of Padmavathi, the consort of Lord Venkateswara. This temple is located at Tirachanuru. It is one of the best known Mahalakshmi temples in India.
Sri Kalahasti, located 35 kms from Tirupati is another famous shrine. It is dedicated to Lord Shiva and is known as Dakshina Kailasam. Shiva is worshipped as Vayulingam here. Beautiful carvings adorn the three huge gates or gopurams of the temple.
The Vellore Golden temple located 110 kms from Tirupati is a sight not to be missed. This Mahalakshmi temple is set amidst meticulously planned lush garden. The main temple building is coated in gold both in the interior and exterior. The shining golden vista is a sight not to be forgotten.
Kapila Teertham dedicated to Lord Shiva is located about 3 kms away from Tirupati. The huge temple stands behind a waterfall formed by the stream called Papa nasam. It is located at the mouth of a cave. The huge statue of Nandi is situated in front of the temple gates. The site is considered holy as the great sage Kapila is said to have worshipped and meditated here.
Narayana vanam is a temple complex located 35 kms from Tirupati. Sri Venkateswara got married to his consort Padmavathi here.
The Vedanarayana Swamy temple located at Nagalapuram at a distance of 70 kms from Tirupati has beautiful carvings and represents the Vijaynagara style of architecture.
The light and sound show at the Chandragiri fort at a distance of 14 km from Tirupati should not be missed. It gives a detailed idea about the history of the region.
The Akashganga waterfall is located 3 kms from Tirumala and supplies the bath water to the temple of Tirupati. The ravine offers a beautiful view.
The Papa vinashanam is a natural reservoir formed by mountain streams. A dip in this lake is thought to clean all sins.
Food & Accommodation
Liquor and non vegetarian foods are strictly prohibited in Tirumala Tirupati. Tasty foods at reasonable prices are available from the restaurant run by the Devasthanam authorities in Tirupati. There are a number of restaurants and eateries in Tirumala. South Indian foods are most commonly available. Maya, Hotel Vikram and Minerva Grand are some of the well known places to eat.
The most convenient place to stay is in one of the cottages, dormitories or guest houses run by the TTD. They are cheap, clean and extremely well administered. Since Tirupati is visited by the leading dignitaries of India, several star rated hotels are located at Tirumala like Mayura, Annapurna, Regalia etc.
Safety and Security
Security is very tight and you will have to undergo several checks before you reach the inner sanctum of the temple. Because of this Tirumala Tirupathi is an extremely safe place and nuisances common at other Hindu pilgrim sites are conspicuously absent here.