The richest of all the pilgrimage sites in the entire country, Tirupati is visited by a cluster of believers of Venkateswara. Another form of Lord Vishnu, Venkateswara Swamy is considered as the god who destroys all the sins. It is said that once a sage who got furious on Lord Vishnu due to the ignorance showed to him, kicked Lord Vishnu on his heart where Goddess Laxmi stays. Even after this crime of the sage, the Lord accepted his apology. This made the goddess upset and she left Vaikuntha and Lord Vishnu and came to stay on the earth in a place which is now known as Kolhapur in Maharashtra. Thus, to convince his wife, the Lord came to earth and meditated on the now known Tirumala hills. The temple was built as a shrine for this god and today it pulls in humungous crowds of devotees coming in to see the delicately carved statue of Lord Venkateswara. The other names of Lord Venkateswara are Govinda, Balaji and Srinivas. Located on top of seven hills of Tirumala, the temple is worshipped throughout India and has tourists coming to see its grandeur from all over the world. The seven peaks resemble the heads of seven gods and hence is named as Adisesha. The temple is located on the seventh peak and is known as Venkatachal (Venkat hill). The hills are covered in greens throughout and have a pleasant atmosphere. The best time although is the winters as the heat during summers can drain you off even before you reach the inner sanctum. The peak holds the gorgeously decorated temple whose first sight itself is kind of spell binding. The grand entrance doors reminds you of the greatness of the Lord residing within them. Once you enter the grand doors, you see the beauty of the main temple. Surrounded by the most surreal and delicate flowers available locally, the idol of the God in the inner sanctum sanctorum is always a bliss to your eyes. Easy enough to reach, there are many trains and flights that you can take to reach the destination.
The entire area of the temple is beautifully maintained and you see the premises spic and span throughout the year. At the entrance you see a lot of barbers though. This is owing to the belief of the locals that sacrificing you hair and donating it to the Lord brings one a good fortune and a healthy life ahead as you help him in donating it to the goddess Neela Devi. It is believed that when she saw a bald patch on the God’s head, she immediately cut off her hair strand and implanted it on his head. You can even see the women going bald here for the same reason. Another belief is the Hundi donation. This has a story that comes from the time when Lord Srinivas had taken a debt of gold coins to decorate the entire area where he was about to wed the beautiful Padmavati. The debt was taken from Lord Kubera and by donating money in the Hundi, the devotees try and help the Lord repay his debt.
Inside the Temple
They say you can find god only after a chain of hardships. Well, it’s the same situation in the temple. The gigantic queues just for the darshan of the prime deity leaves your jaw wide open. There are some facilities where you can pay and get a cut inside, skipping all the tedious task of moving in the line. Also, the waiting to get past the entire crowd can be tough and at times exhausting. In spite of this, the wait to see the idol never lessens in any of the hearts of all the people standing throughout the day. Slowly and steadily when you reach the doors of the sanctum you see two statues of the door keepers Jaya and Vijaya. Once you get inside the sanctum or the inner most part of the temple, it is quite dark and all you can see is the idol of Lord Balaji. Situated right beneath the Ananda Nilaya Divya Vimana (gilt-dome), the idol stands majestically in the Garbha Gruha. Adorned with gold and diamonds and richest clothing, the idol is entirely covered up in fragrant flowers and satiates your eyes completely. For that one moment, the encompassing chaos dims down to pin drop silence and all you can see is the compelling idol of the Lord. This happens until you are either pushed by the crowd behind or the guard standing next to you.
After the tranquilizing sight of the Lord you are rewarded with the Prasad, a laddoo (a sweet made out of dry fruits and boondi). The entire journey ends in a sweet and grand way once you taste the mouth-watering sweet. You can see all the happy and satisfied faces leaving the premises after the brief yet mesmerizing meet with Lord Srinivas. It is also believed that the journey remains incomplete if you do not visit the famous temple of Goddess Laxmi in Kolhapur; hence people usually plan a trip that ends in Kolhapur where you get to view the equally marvelous form of Lord’s wife.