Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams
The word Tirupati means the ‘the Lord of Lakshmi’ is appropriately applied to the village on the Venkata Hill, the abode of the Lord. The village around the Hill near His temple is called Tirumala which means the Sacred Hill. The temple of Tirupati is one of the most ancient and impressive places of pilgrimage in India. It is located in the Chittoor district in southern Andhra Pradesh. The sacred temple of Lord Sri Venkateswara situated on the Tirumala Hill adjoining to Tirupati is the richest Hindu temple and the most visited religious center in the world followed by the Vatican City. The temple is the jewel in the crown of ancient places of worship in southern India.
The history of this temple can be traced back to 9th Century A.D. Pallavas, the rulers of Kancheepuram, patronized this shrine. It was during Vijayanagara dynasty in 15th Century AD that the temple got recognition, and the contributions started pouring in. Krishna Deva Raya of Vijayanagara led the temple to great popularity by donating gold and other ornaments for the temple and constructing extended shrines. From 1843 AD, when the Empire started rising in India till 1933 AD, the administrative activities of the Tirumala temple were looked after by Mahants of the Hatiramji Mutt. It was only in 1933, the Madras government took over and handed the reins of administration to an autonomous body known as the Tirumala-Tirupati Devasthanam (TTD) Committee.
According to one legend, Saint Ramanuja born in 11th Century AD climbed the seven hills of Tirupati, Lord Srinivas - another name for Lord Venkateswara - appeared before him and gave him his blessings. These seven hills around Tirumala-Tirupati are also known as Sapthagiri after the seven hoods of Sheshnag – the cosmic serpent. The temple of Sri Venkateswara is located on the seventh peak, Venkatadri. And after that he is believed to have been blessed to live till the ripe age of 120 years to spread the gospel of Sri Venkateswara.
Tirupati Temple celebrates many festivals like Kalyanotsavam, Arjita Brahmotsavam, Dolotsavam, Vasanthotsavam but the annual festival of 'Brahmotsavam' is particularly important. This festival is celebrated extravagantly for nine days in the month of September every year. The Garudostavam and Rathotavam rituals take place on the fifth and sixth day of the festival. Thus, it attracts flocks of tourists and devotees to the temple.
Tirupati is located in southern part of Andhra Pradesh and is about 10.33 sq miles in area. It is a conglomeration of seven hills known as Seshachalam or Venkatachalam having an height of 853m (2,800ft.). These seven peaks are - Seshadri, Neeladri, Garudadri, Anjanadri, Vrishabhadri, Narayanadri and Venkatadri.
During summer, temperature of this region may go up to 42 to 45 degrees Celsius (107.6 F to 113 F) while in winter the temperature is between 10 and 18 degrees Celsius (50 F to 64.4 F). Summer lasts from March to June, with the advent of rainy season in July, followed by winter which lasts till the end of February
The temples of tirupati
The town of Tirupati came into existence only about the middle of the twelfth century, with the foundation of the Govindarajaswami temple. Before this time there was a small village, named Kottur, to the north-east of Kapilatirtham, situated about two miles to the north of the modern town. On the spot where the Govindarajaswami temple stands there was a small shrine dedicated to Krishna. The famous Vaishnava teacher, Ramanuja founded the Govindaraja temple and started a small settlement round it named Ramanujapuram, confined to the four Mada streets round the temple. This small colony was expanded later on, particularly in Vijayanagara Times. An Achyutarayapuram came into existence to the northeast. An Srinivasapuram came to be formed to the west. The main bazaar was formed and a fairly big township grew up. Several other shrines were also founded like the Rama or aghunatha temple, the Periya-alvar shrine, the Achyutaraya temple, the Mammalwar shrine, the Kapileshwara shrine and the Narasimha shrine. Near the foot of the hills a Lakshminarasimha temple and an Alvar shrine came to be built.
The Govindarajaswami Temple:
This temple is the main attraction for the pilgrims at Tirupati and the biggest temple in town.