Considered one of the most sacred temples in India, the Tirumala Tirupati Sri Venkateswara Temple is situated in the town of Tirupati, Andhra Pradesh. Also known as the Tirupati Balaji Temple, it has become a focal point of contemporary religion in India, and is dedicated to Sri Venkateswara who is the presiding deity and also known by the name of Lord Balaji, Lord Srinivasa, or Seshadri. He is an incarnation of Lord Vishnu, the Preserver of the Universe.
The Tirupati Temple originated in Vaishnavism and Hinduism and observes the philosophy of equality, and love. Sri Venkateswara attracts crowds of all ages, faiths and nationalities for his belief in his ability to answer prayers and perform the most improbable miracles.
Tirupati Balaji is perhaps the greatest ‘pilgrimage phenomenon in the world, Not solely because of the millions who visit it, but because of the immense bhav (inner sentiments) with which pilgrims venerate the deity. Devotees readily donate not just cash, but whatever jewellery they may be wearing, in addition to their hair! Yes, pilgrims readily have their heads shaved to offer their hair. Even married women! Otherwise in India’s tradition, only widows may have their heads shaved. This means that thousands of barbers are needed and tons of hair is produced every month.
After the hair are removed, it is an important ritual to bathe in the Pushkarini Sarovar. Varahswami’s mandir lies west of this lake. It is said that Garudji brought Pushkarini from Vaikunth for Varahswami to bathe in. It is an important ritual to first have the darshan of Varahswami and then Balaji’s.
This tirth is located in the Chittur district of Andhra Pradesh, 10 km from Renigunta station on the Mumbai-Chennai railway. ‘Tiru’ in Telugu means Shri (Lakshmi). ‘Pati’ means husband. Hence Tirupati is Shri’s consort, Vishnu. The Venkateshwar Mandir, in which Tirupati is consecrated, is located between seven hills, on a saucer–shaped plateau called Venkatachalam or Venkatadri.
Bhagwan Venkateshwar came down from Narayanadri to Venkatadri. On Narayanadri, which is 3,629 feet high, there is Narayanpad mandir. Here, Bhagwan Venkateshwar’s lotus feet are sculpted in stone.
The Purans mention that Mount Meru was situated here. However it shattered in the dual between Adishesh and Vayu devas. The mountain represents Sheshnag and is also called Sheshachal.
Shri Balaji’s (Venkateshwar) seven feet high murti has a shankh (conch), chakra (disc), gada (mace) and padma (lotus). The murti is adorned with valuable ornaments. On either side are the murtis of Shridevi and Bhudevi, as in Muktanath. Balaji’s small utsav (mobile) murti is made of gold.
To allow every pilgrim darshan of Bhagwan, the mandir has to be kept open virtually 24 hours.
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