Tirupati is considered to be the richest pilgrimage city in the world, and is located in the Chittoor district, in the state of Andhra Pradesh. It is situated at the foothills of Tirumala. Tirumala is known as the abode of Lord Venkateshwara, who was one of the avatars of Lord Vishnu.
Image: Yeshwanth Rao@flickr
The temple of Lord Venkateshwara, located in Tirupati is one of the most popular pilgrimage destinations. It was built by the Tamil king Thodaimaan and then reformed by Cholas and the later Telugu kings. It is because of this temple that the name of Tirupati is famous all over the world today. It is one of the most visited temple in the world. The city of Tirupati also has Sri Venkateswara University, which is one of the three major Universities in Andhra Pradesh.
Tirupati is the fourth largest city in the state of Andhra Pradesh. It is not only famous for its temples, but it also has a fast growing infrastructure, what with a number of IT, BPO and Health industries sprawling. Real estate is another industry which is booming in this city. Tirupati is also slowly becoming one of the major educational, entertainment and a commercial city of India.
The Tirumala hills located in Tirupati are the world's second oldest rock mountains. The temple of Tirupati was showered with various gifts, etc. by the kings of many dynasties as well. The city of Tirupati was first established near Kotturu, which is today known as the K.T. Road. Subsequently, it was shifted near the temple of Govindaraja Swamy with the temple as the centre of the city. At present, the city of Tirupati includes Srinivasamangapuram, Tiruchanoor, Renigunta, etc.
Places to See in Tirupati
Sri Venkateswara Temple
The temple of Sri Venkateswara lies on the southern banks of Sri Swami Pushkarin. It is situated on the seventh peak of Tirupati-Balaji Hills and is a major tourist attraction of Tirupati. According to ancient Hindu texts, someone who visits Sri Venkateswara temple benefits greatly.
It is a 12th century Vaishnavite temple that is located about 18 kms. north west of Tirupati Balaji. It is an absolute masterpiece of Dravidian architecture. The spire which is located over the sanctum is gold plated and presents and awesome view. It is almost magical, as it seems to come to life with the sun rays falling over it during the sunrise. Apart from the spire, the temple flag is also gold plated and stands beautifully in all its glory.
The idol of Lord Venkateswara located in the temple is supposed to be a form of Vishnu and has four arms - one holding a conch, the second a discus, the third in the blessing pose while the fourth is resting on the hip. Encircling both the arms are the incise of a serpent, which is an emblem of Lord Shiva. The inner shrines of the temple are open to Hindus only, but many foreigners also come to pay a visit.
Sri Govindrajaswamy Temple
The temple of Sri Govindrajaswamy is one of the most visited temples in the city of Tirupati. The temple has an gateway that is visible from quite a distance. The temple was formed by Saint Ramanujacharya, in 1130 AD. The sanctuaries of the temple are dedicated to Vishnu and Krishna.
Sri Kapileswaraswami Temple
Sri Kapileswaraswami temple is located about 3 kms. north of Tirupati-Balaji and is the only temple that is dedicated to Lord Shiva. The temple's setting is very attractive, with a waterfall located close-by. This waterfall is known as Kapila Teertham or Alwar Teertham.
Sri Kodandaramaswami Temple
Sri Kodandaramaswami Temple was built by a Chola king in the 10th century AD. The temple has the idols of Rama, Sita and Lakshmana as the presiding deities. According to many legends, the temple marks the visit of Lord Rama to Tirupati. Another temple, the temple of Anjaneyaswami which is located just opposite to Sri Kodandaramaswami temple, is a sub-shrine of this temple.
Tiruchanur is also known as Alamelumangapuram, and is located about 5 kms. from Tirupati - Balaji. The temple of Goddess Lakshmi or Sri Padmavathi Devi is located here. It is believed that the visit to Tirupati is incomplete without a visit to the Sri Padmavathi temple. There are many sub-temples situated inside the premises of the Padmavathi temple, which are Sri Krishnaswamy Temple, Sri Sundara Rajaswamivari Temple and Sri Suryanarayana Swamivari Temple.
Sri Kalyana Venkateswaraswami Temple
Situated 12 kms. west of the Tirupati city, Sri Kalyana Venkateswaraswami Temple is associated with a great legend. It is believed that Lord Venkateswara stayed here after his marriage with Sri Padmavathi Devi before he proceeded to Tirumala.
The Kalyani dam is the main source of water for Tirupati and Tirumalai. It is located about 18 kms. from Tirupati, in the Rangampet forest on the Tirupati-Balaji-Madanapallee Road.
A small town located about 65 kms. from Tirupati, Nagalapuram's major attraction is Sri Vedanarayana Swamy Temple. This temple was constructed by the Vijaynagar emperor, Sri Krishna Devraja at the request of his mother. One interesting fact about the temple is the way it has been constructed. The temple has been made in such a way that every year during the month of March, the sun rays pas through the gopuram and falls on the idol for three days.
The Kailasakona Waterfalls is located in the Nagary Valley. The water of the falls is rich in minerals and it is believed that it has healing powers.
Tirupati is frequented by quite a large number of tourists every year, not only from India, but from all over the world. To cater to the wide array of tourists, there are a number of hotels in Tirupati. The 3-star hotels like the Fortune Kences Hotel, Hotel Bliss, Kalyan Residency, etc. take very good care of the visitors. There is also the Dalmia Resorts Temple Valley, situated here, which provides the traveler a perfect combination of royalty and luxury.
For the traveler who is looking for a relatively cheap option, there are budget hotels like Hotel Mayura and Hotel The Sai Inn.
How to Reach Tirupati
There are direct flights available to and from Tirupati to Hyderabad, Chennai and other cities as well.
Traveling by Rail is also not an issue as Tirupati has got its own railway station. But it is to be kept in mind that many trains pass only through the nearby town of Renigunta or Gudur and not through Tirupati.
Regular bus and taxi services connect Tirupati to all the important cities of the state.