Tirupati – pilgrimage city that beckons
Does the pilgrimage city of Tirupati need any introduction? It is one of the most ancient and sacred pilgrimage spots of Hindu Dharma across the globe and on each year millions of devotes visit the Tirumala Venkateswara Temple in India to show reverence. The pilgrimage city is located in the state of Andhra Pradesh, basically at the foothills of Tirumala, in India and owes its existence to the Temple situated on the Tirumala Hills, the abode of Lord Venkateshwara, one of the Avatars of Lord Vishnu, located atop Seshachala hills often called as Yedu Kondalu (seven hills).
Though the temple of Lord Venkateshwara, known as the richest and the most visited place of worship in the world, was built by Telugu Kings, it has its reference in the earliest Hindu treatises. The Sangam literature of Tamil like Silapadikaram and Satanar’s Manimekalai, dated between 500 BC to 300 AD, mentions Tiruvengadam (now named Tirupati). The entire region is believed to be the “Aadi Varaha Kshetra” (the ancient site of Varaha) and the same is found in Indian literature that came to the fore during the Mauryan and Gupta regimes. Keep in mind that Lord Venkateswara is referred in Vedas, Tirupati is considered as Kaliyuga Vaikuntha (Heaven on the earth).
The site was an established center by the 5th century A.D, and the Alvars (Vaishnava saints) belonging to the Bhakti movement in Dravidian land sung in praise of Venketeswara. Its significance in Southern Vaishnava tradition is next only to Srirangam, and the temple rites were formalized by the Vaishanvite saint Ramanujacharya himself, in the 11th century AD. A number of monarchs of different dynasties including Cholas, Hoysalas, Krishna Deva Raya of Vijayanagara endorsed the structure by donating gold and other ornaments for the temple and constructing extended shrines.
What does the word ‘Tirupati’ mean then? It means the “Lord of Lakshmi,” and must have been applied to the village on the Venkat hill, the residence of Lord Venkateswara. The city was recognized as a major municipal Corporation (MCT) in 2002. The district headquarters is 60 km from the city but lots of important government establishments and operations have effect in Tirupati. The Tirupati Urban Development Authority further expanded its horizon to about 1380 km² with a total population of about 10 lakhs and by now the city has become one of the fastest growing cities in India and is witnessing the emergence of IT, BPO and Health industries. You may get amazed to know but the city is experiencing a major boom in real estate as well.
Tirupati is also well-known for celebrating several Vaishnava festivals including Vaikunta Ekadasi, Rama Navami and Janmashtami with great magnificence. Brahmotsavam, on the other hand, is celebrated every year during September. It is the most important festival in Tirumala and does receive greater than millions of devotees over a short span of a week. Another festival, called Rathasapthami (Magha Shuddha Saptami), is celebrated during February and at this time Lord Venkateswara’s idol is taken in a procession around the temple chariots. A major local festival known as Gangamma Jathra is also celebrated.
The city is well connected with bus, rail and air routes. It has the third largest bus station in Andhra Pradesh with nearly 50 platforms. There is another bus station near Alipiri and for every 2 minutes, there is a bus facility from Tirupati to Tirumala. Tirupati East railway station has 10 platforms and is the fourth in India to be recognized as a “World class”. Tirupati Airport is the third airport established in the state and the 18th International Airport in the country. It is known for operating with efficiency national airlines between Tirupati and Hyderabad, Bengaluru, Delhi and Vishakapatnam. Air India operates flights from Hyderabad and Delhi, while Kingfisher Red operates flights from Vishakapatnam (Vizag), Hyderabad and Bengaluru.
Where can you accommodate? There are good hotels like Venkateswara Women’s Hostel, SVU Men’s Hostel, Sri Padmavathi Students and Working Women’s Hostel, Sri Lakshmi Venkateswara Prasannna Women’s Hostel, Sri Balaji Womens Hostel – SV Nagar,
Lastly, never forget to have glimpse of other magnificent temples. They are known for both magnificence and religiousness. Some of them are Padmavati Temple, Govindaraja Swamy grandeur, Kodanda Rama Swamy Temple, Kapila Theertham, ISKCON Lord Krishna Temple.