About Venkateswara Temple (Tirumala)
Located in Tirupathi, the “spiritual capital of Andhra Pradesh,” the Venkateswara Temple, or the Sri Venkateswara Swamy Vaari Temple, is one of the most prominent ones of all. Situated atop the hill town of Tirumala, this temple is one of the wealthiest religious sites in the world in terms of the donations it receives from devotees and pilgrims.
The temple’s central deity, Venkateswara, is believed to be an avatar of Lord Vishnu incarnated on Earth to save the human race from the trials and tribulations of Kali Yuga. Consequently, the temple is also known as Kaliyuga Vaikuntha.
(Image Credit: TTD)
History of Venkateswara Temple (Tirumala)
While the early history of the temple is shrouded in mystery, construction began in 300 CE and continued over a somewhat extended period. The temple received its first recorded endowment from the Pallava Queen Samavai in 966 CE. Since then, the Pallava Dynasty in the 9th century, the Chola Dynasty in the 10th century, and the Vijayanagar Pradhans in the 14th and 15th centuries patronised the Venkateshwara Swamy temple.
In the modern era, the temple’s administrative rights have passed through many hands, starting with Golconda and the French in the 17th century, the East India Company under the British Raj, and is finally in the hands of the Andhra Pradesh government today.
Architecture and Administration
The Venkateswara Temple architecture is in a style that is typical of ancient South Indian or Dravidian architecture. It is at an altitude of 853 metres on Tirumala Hill, a part of the seven Seshachalam Hills. The temple is a five-storey tower known as a gopuram, stretching to a height of 50 feet. At the top of the building are seven kalasams, inverted pots with their points facing the sky. Traditionally, these kalasams held a store of grains as a reserve in case of unforeseen droughts.
The Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams carry out the administration of the temple. It is a board of trustees that oversees the daily activities of the temple. The government of Andhra Pradesh appoints the executive officer in charge of this board.
Deities in the Temple
As already mentioned, the presiding deity of this temple is Sri Venkateswara, an avatar of Vishnu. Venkateswara Swamy temple has five deities known as the Pancha Beram. The central one, located in the middle of the Garbha Griha, is called the Moolavirat or the Dhruva Beram. It is this one that is considered the primary source of energy for the temple.
The other four are the Bhoga Srinivasa or Kautuka Beram, Ugra Srinivasa or Snapana Beram, Malayappa Swami or Utsava Beram, and Koluvu Srinivasa or Bali Beram. They represent different aspects of Venkateswara, such as pleasure, fear and celebration.
Worship and Festivals
The Venkateswara Temple subscribes to the Vaikhanasa Agama tradition of worship, which places Vishnu in the role of the Supreme Being of the Universe. This tradition is one of the principal traditions of Hinduism and recommends six prayers or pujas per day. The prasad offered at this temple is the famous Tirupati Laddu, known worldwide. It is made only by the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams. Along with other prasadams such as chakra pongal (sweet), miriyala pongal, kadambam, Pulihora (tamarind rice), and daddojanam (curd rice).
This temple hosts a staggering 433 festivals per year, giving it the title “Nitya Kalyanam Paccha Toranam”, where every day is a festival. The most prominent of these is a nine-day event known as Sri Venkateswara Brahmotsavam, which takes place annually in October.
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