Tirupati City is located in the southeastern part of Andhra Pradesh, in Chittoor district. It lies about 152-km northwest of Chennai in the Palkonda Hills. Tirupati is known as the abode of the Hindu god Venkateshvara (also spelt as 'Venkatesvara'), "Lord of Seven Hills". About 10-km northwest of Tirupati, at an elevation of 750m, is the sacred hill of Tirumala, which was considered very holy. One of the most important pilgrimage centers in India, the temple draws millions of pilgrims and is believed to be the busiest pilgrimage centre in the world.(Interactive map of Tirupati)
History of Tirupati
Sangam literature, the earliest of Tamil literature (dated between
500 B.C to 300 A.D) mentions of Tirupati as Thrivengadam which used
to form the northernmost frontier of the Tamil Kingdoms. Sangam
literature such as Ilango Vadigal's Silapadikaram and Satanar's
Manimeghalai bear testimony to the existence of a shrine at Tirupati.
Puranic literature which was composed roughly around the post-Mauryan
and early-Gupta era also mentions of Tirupati as the Aadhi Varaha
Kshetra. The Puranas associate the site with Lord Varaha one of the
incarnations of Lord Vishnu. Till today the Varaha shrine holds
great importance in Tirupati and is said to be older than the main
sanctum of Venkateswara.
Places of Interest in Tirupati
Lord Venkateshwara Temple
Tirupati is one of the most important pilgrimage centres in India. It has the historic shrine of Sri Venkateswara or Balaji, an incarnation of Vishnu. Also known as the 'Lord of the Seven Hills', the 2m high standing idol of Venkateswara on a lotus flanked by his consorts Bhudevi and Sridevi, is believed to grant any wish made in front of it. The most striking feature of the awe-inspiring black idol is its fabulous diamond crown, which is said to be the most precious single ornament in the world. This temple draws millions of pilgrims and is believed to be the busiest pilgrimage centre in the world. The richest temple in India, it is a master piece of South Indian Architecture. The Sanctorum 'Ananda Nilayam' has a glittering gold covered 'Vimana' and gold covered gates guard the sanctum sanctorum. It is considered auspicious to offer the hair as sacrifice to the deity.
Govindaraja Swami Temple
Located in the heart of Tirupati is Sri Govindaraja Swami Temple, which was consecrated by Saint Ramanujacharya in 1130 AD. It is built by the Nayakas, the successors to the Vijayanagar empire. The temple has an impressive outer gopuram. The inner most gopuram is the earliest dating from the 14th-15th centuries. The main shrines are dedicated to Vishnu and Krishna.
About 1km from Tirumala Temple is a rare naturally formed arch. Believed to be the source of Lord Venkateswara's idol, the rocks resemble hood of a serpent, a conch and a discus. It is a geological wonder.
Located in the heart of the Tirupati town, the Kodandaramaswami Temple was built by a Chola king in the 10th century AD. The presiding deities here are Sita, Rama and Lakshmana. The temple of Anjaneyaswami, which is directly opposite, is a sub-shrine of this temple.
Sri Kapileswaraswami Temple
Sri Kapileswaraswami Temple, is situated about 3-km north at the foot of the Tirumala Hills. This is the only temple dedicated to Lord Shiva, in Tirupati. Annual ' Brahmotsavams' and festivals like ' Vinayaka Chavithi', ' Maha Shivaratri', ' Skhanda Shasthi' and ' Annabhishekam' are performed in a grand manner. The sacred and beautiful waterfall, 'Kapila Teertham' or 'Alwar Teertham' is located here.
In Tiruchanur, about 3 km south of Tirupati is the temple of goddess Padmavati, the consort of Lord Venkateswara (Balaji). The large temple is also known as 'Alamelumangapuram' and it is said that a visit to Tirumala is fruitful only after visiting the Sri Padmavati Devi temple.
Sri Venkatesvara Museum
This museum is situated at the Sri Govindarajaswamy Temple compound, Tirupati. This museum contains exhibits of temple arts. The entrance of the Tirumalai temple exhibits an interesting collection of Indian musical instruments. The Sri Venkatesvara University Oriental Research Institute has the collection of stone images, wood and metal images, pottery, coins and inscriptions.
Chandragiri Palaces and Fort
Located 11 km from Tirupati, in Chittoor district, Chandragiri was the former capital of the mighty Vijayanagar Empire. The fort here was built on a 180m high rock. The fortifications, 'Raja Mahal' with its romantic lily pond and the 'Rani mahal' are well preserved. The Museum in Raja Mahal contains Chola and Vijayanagara bronzes.
Sri Kalyana Venkateswaraswami Temple
Sri Kalyana Venkateswaraswami temple is located 12 km west of Tirupati at Srinivasa Mangapuram. It is believed that Lord Venkateswara stayed here after his marriage with Sri Padmavati Devi, before proceeding to Tirumala.
Sri Prasanna Venkateswaraswami Temple
Sri Prasanna Venkateswaraswami is situated in Appalayagunta, 4-km from Tirupati. Sri Venkateswaraswami, after marrying Sri Padmavati Devi, blessed Sri Siddeswara and other sages here.
About 60-km from Tirupati, Srikalahasti is situated on the banks of the Swarnamukhi river at the foot of the Kailasagiri hills. This16th century town is famous for its 'Kalahasthisvara Temple', one of the most sacred Shiva shrine and the production of 'Kalamkari' paintings. The temple is particularly revered for the 'Siva lingam' in white stone. The shrine of 'Vayu Deva' the Wind God is the only one of its kind in India. 'Kalamkaris' are brightly coloured hand painted textiles used as Temple decoration and wall hangings.
Thalakona is a forest located 30-km from Tirupati. Deep in these forests is a 6m perennial waterfall known as 'Talakona'. It is an enchanting picnic spot of great scenic beauty.
Horsley hills, situated at an altitude of 1,265m is a hill resort located 151-km from Tirupati and named after WD Horsley, who was the collector of Cuddapah district. Horsley chose this spot for his summer residence. The place is luxuriously green and cool, with a maximum summer temperature of 32°C, and minimum of 20°C.
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