Tirupati Balaji is accredited for being the most visited pilgrimages centers in India. It is located at the distance of 67 km away from Chittoor in Chittoor district of southern Andhra Pradesh and 170 km north east of Chennai. The temple is dedicated to Lord Venkateshwara or Vishnu, visited by thousands of pilgrims through out the year. The word 'Tirupati' is derived on the name of the village located on the Venkata Hill means 'the Lord of Lakshmi'. With its many shrines and numerous dharamshalas the whole are surrounding the Tirumala Hill offers a fascinating insight of the contemporary Hinduism practiced on the large scale in India.
History of Tirupati Temple :
The history of Tirupati temple dates back to the 9th century when Pallavas, the rulers of Kancheepuram, established this shrine on the Tirumala hill. But the temple got recognized during the rule of the Vijayanagara rulers. It was during this time when the temple got lot of wealth. One of the Vijayanagar kings Krishnadevaraya installed idols of himself and his spouse at the portals of the Tirupati temple. They are still present in Tirupati along with a statue of Venkatapati Raya in the main temple. From 1843 to 1943 AD, the administrative activities of the temple were overseen by the Mahants of the Hatiramji Mutt. At present Tirumala Tirupati temple is managed and controlled by the TTD (Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam). TTD has made special arrangements to comfort the pilgrims and to preserve the environment near the hills.
Architecture of Tirupati temple :
Tirupati Balaji is said to be one of th richest temple in the world. The temple present one of the finest examples of the Dravidian style of architecture. A lot of dynasties have contributed to the development of the Tirupati Balaji. The temple is adorned with the beautiful 'gopuram' or tower. The 'Vimana' or Cupola over the sanctum sanctorum is gliters with gold plate and is known as "the Ananda Nilayam". The main highlight of the temple is the idol of Lord Venkateswara or 'Venkataramana' or 'Srinivasa' that has the attributes of both Vishnu and Shiva, preserving and destroying aspects of the Hindu trinity.
Sermons and Festivals :
Devotees make a visit to the Tirumala to see Venkateshwara, an avatar of Vishnu. The temple still practice the rituals and sermons that were prescribed by Ramanuja Acharya in the 12th century. The day starts with 'Suprabhatam' at 3 am in the morning and and ends with the 'Ekanta Seva' at 1 am during the night, when the Lord is made to sleep. Pilgrims are seen donating their hair to the deity, in gratitude for a wish fulfilled or to renounce ego - so hundreds of barbers attend to devotees.
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