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Vishnu in the form of Lord Venkateshwara at Tirumala Venkateshwara (Sanskrit & Telugu), also known as Venkatachalapathy or Srinivasa or Balaji, is the supreme God believed to be a form of the Hindu Deity Lord Vishnu. He appeared in this Yuga Kali Yuga for saving the people who have fallen deeply and are deluded in three modes of material nature.

Lord Venkateshwara means supreme God who destroys the sins of the people in this material world 'ven+kata+eshwara=sins+destroyer+supremegod'). He is Vishnu, who is transcendental to the material energy, Vishnu does not have direct contact with material people, and therefore yogis carry out severe penances to have a vision of Vishnu's lotus feet. How ever, in the kali yuga people have fallen to the point that they have even lost themselves due to ignorance in bodily consciousness. Lord Vishnu out of love towards his devotees therefore incarnated as Venkateshwara.

The exact period in which the temple was founded is not known, and tradition has it that the temple is Swayambhustala, meaning that it came into existence on its own without anyone constructing it. According to folk legends, there was a huge anthill at Tirupati. A farmer heard a voice from the heavens asking him to feed the ants. By chance the local king heard the voice and began supplying milk for the ants himself. His compassion resulted in the liquid uncovering a magnificent idol of Lord Venkateshwara hidden beneath the anthill.

According to some evidence the history of the temple dates back almost 2,000 years. In ancient times, a queen called Samavai, belonging to the Pallava dynasty (614 AD), is said to have consecrated the first silver image here. The temple is also mentioned in Sangam poetry (500 BC - 2000 AD).

Numerous temple inscriptions from the 9th century record details of the temple and contributions made by both Pallavas and Chola Kings. It is believed that originally there was only one shrine at Tirumala. When the Vaishnavite saint, Ramanuja, visited Andhra in the 12th century, the temple at Tirupathi was built. The Chola period saw the temple complex prosper and expand further. In 1517, Krishnadevaraya, on one of his many visits to the temple, donated gold and jewels enabling the Vimana (inner shrine) roofing to be gilded.

The Maratha general Raghoji Bhonsle visited the temple and set up a permanent administration for the conduct of worship in the temple. Among the later rulers who endowed large benefactions were the rulers of Mysore and Gadwal. In 1843, with the coming of the East India Company, the administration of the Shri Venkateshwara temple and a number of shrines was entrusted to Seva Dossji of the Hathiramji Mutt at Tirumala as Vicaranakarta for nearly a century until 1933, when the temple was under the administrative charge of the mahants. The Madras legislature passed a special act in 1933 whereby the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam (TTD) committee was invested with powers of administration and control through a commissioner appointed by the Government of Madras. A Ryot Advisory Council was formed for the management of the estates of the TTD, and was assisted by a Religious Advisory Council with regard to religious matters.

Adi Sankaracharya came to Tirumala and placed Sri Chakra at the lotus feet of Lord Venkateshwara and sung the famous song "Bhaja Govindam". According to various verses from the Puranas and other text; Lord Venkateshwara is the supreme God or Vishnu, Narayana or Brahman of this Kali Yuga. Lord Venkateshwara has His holy abode in the Venkatam hills (the hills are more often referred to as ThiruVenkatam) near Tirupathi. Thus, the main temple of Lord Venkateshwara is the Tirumala Venkateshwara Temple. The Tirumala temple, where He is the presiding deity, is believed to be the richest of all the temples in the world. The temple is in southern India Andhra Pradesh in Chittoor district. The presence of seven hills influenced alternate names for the deity: Edukondalavadu in Telugu and as Ezhumalaiyan in Tamil both of which mean "Lord of the Seven Hills".

He is also known as Maal, ThiruMaal, Manivannan, Balaji (though this is a more recent name), Srinivasa, Venkatesha, Venkatanatha, Thiruvengadam Udaiyaan, Tiruvengadattaan and by many other names. He is also worshiped with the name Tirupati Thimmappa all over Karnataka by traditionally Shiva-worshipping communities. In Hinduism, Venkateshwara (also spelled as Venkateshwer or Venkatachalapathi) is a much-worshipped form of Vishnu. He is also known as Balaji or Lord Venkateshwara. He is also worshiped with the name Tirupati Thimmappa all over Karnataka by traditionally Shiva worshipping communities.

Vishnu, in the form of Venkateshwara, is much worshipped at Tirupati temple. Venkateshwara is the presiding deity at the Tirumala temple complex, believed to be the richest of all the Hindu shrines in the world. The temple is situated in southern Andhra Pradesh in Chittoor district. It is around 120 km away from Chennai. The presence of seven hills influenced alternate names for the deity: Edukondalavadu in Telugu and as Ezhumalaiyan in Tamil both of which mean Lord of the Seven Hills. In iconographic depictions, Lord Venkateswara's eys are covered, because it is said, that his gaze is so intense, it would scorch the universe

 
 
Legend of Tirumala: Sri Maha Vishnu rescued Earth which was taken over by Hiranyaksha to Patala Loka (underworld) in the form of Adi Varaha - a white boar with tusks. He fought a fierce duel with Hiranyaksa and killed him. He then slashed the water and brought up the Earth on his tusks. Brahma, the Devas and the sages extolled Adi Varaha's virtues, by chanting the Vedic mantras. They prayed to Him to re-establish the Earth as before. Adi Varaha obliged them, and called upon Brahma to recreate the world. He expressed his desire to reside on the Earth to protect its people. He commanded his vehicle, Garuda to fetch Kridachala (an extensive natural hill with lofty peaks, embedded with gold and precious stones, and which resembled Adisesha in shape) from Vaikuntam.

Garuda brought Kridachala and deposited it on a sacred spot (to the East of Swami Pushkarini) chosen by Adi Varaha. Brahma and the other holy personages requested the fearsome-looking Adi Varaha to assume a tranquil and composed look, and rest on the hill to protect men and grant boons to people unable to reach God through Dhyana Yoga (meditation) and Karma Yoga (doing one's own duty). Adi Varaha appeared with four arms and a white face. He was adorned with jewels and accompanied by Bhu Devi. He resolved to stay at Venkatadri, under a divya vimana, to grant the prayers of men.

 
Legend of Seshachalam Hill :
 
The origins of the Tirumala Hills lies in a contest between vayu (wind god) and Adisesha (first serpant). During Dvapara Yuga, Vayu was barred from entering Vaikuntam as Lord Vishnu was in the company of his consort, Lakshmi. An incesed Vayu challenged adisesha for a fight to decide the stronger between them, Vayu was tasked with trying to blow off adisesha from the holy Meru mountain while adisesha was asked to protect the peak with his hood. After a long time, vayu gave way and adisesha lifted his hoods assuming that he won the contest when vayu blew off one of the peaks. The peak landed near swarnamukhi river and is currently known as seshachalam hill.

A variant to the legend is that the contest created pandemonium on earth and Brahma, Indra and other gods pleaded with adisesha to relent. When adisesha oblidged, the peak (Ananda hill) and adisesha were blown off Meru and landed near the banks of river Swarnamukhi. When Adisesha was dejected with his defeat, the Gods converted adisesha into the seven hills with the hood named as Seshadri hill or Seshachalam hill or Venkatadri hill. Another variant to the story is that sesha was fatigued by the contest and was instructed by Lord Venkateswara to rest on Earth in a place that he chose for his stay in Kali Yuga
 
Vishnu removes Bhrigu's 3rd eye :
 
In the Kali Yuga, rishis performing yagna sought the advise of celestial sage Narada on which of the Trimurti should be selected for offering the fruits of the yagna. Narada suggested that the wise sage Bhrugu should be allowed to decide after he met the Trimurtis. The sage who had an extra eye in the sole of his foot visited Lord Brahma and Lord Shiva and went un-noticed in both these locations. He cursed Brahma that no temple sans one will worship Brahma and cursed Shiva that temples on Earth will worship him as Lingam.

When Bhrigu visited Lord Vishnu who was in a private meeting with his consort Goddess Lakshmi and failed to immediately receive and honour the sage, the sage felt humiliated and angry by this act. Sage Bhrigu kicked Lord Vishnu in the chest, to which Vishnu did not react and instead apologized to the Sage by massaging his feet. During this act, he squashed the extra eye that was present in the sole of Bhrugu's foot. The extra eye is believed to represent the sage's false egotism. The sage then realised his grave mistake and begged forgiveness from Lord Vishnu.

Vishnu's chest is significant as the abode of Goddess Lakshmi, the Goddess felt highly insulted at the sage's misdemeanour and Vishnu's silence at the act and left Vishnu heavenly abode (Vaikunta).
 
Curse of chola king :
 
Goddess Lakshmi on leaving the Vaikuntham comes to Varaha Shetra and does intense penance for 12 years. The Gods terrified with her intensity mollified her into returning to Vaikuntam with the site of her penance bearing Goddess Padmavathi (Alamelu mangai thaiyar) as a reincarnation of Goddess Lakshmi during the rule of Akasa Raja.
 
Brahma and Shiva become Cow and Calf to serve Venkateswara :
 
After the departure of Goddess Lakshmi, Lord Vishnu left Vaikuntham and took his abode in an ant-hill on the Venkata Hill under a tamarind tree beside a Pushkarini. Lord Brahma and Shiva, taking pity on the condition of Vishnu, made up their mind to assume the forms of a cow and calf to serve him. Surya - Sun God informed Lakshmi of this and requested her to sell the cow and calf to the king of the Chola country assuming the form of a cowherdess.

The Chola king sent the cow and its calf to graze on the Venkata Hill along with his herd of cattle. Discovering Lord Vishnu in the ant-hill, the cow everyday emptied her under over the ant-hill and thus fed the Lord. Over a period ot time, the queen noticed that the cow did not yield any milk and chastised the cowherd severely. The cowherd investigating the cause, followed the cow and discovered the cow emptying her udder over the ant-hill. In his anger, the cowherd aimed a blow with his axe on the head of the cow but struck God who rose from the ant-hill to receive the blow and save the cow. On seeing Lord Vishnu bleeding, the cowherd fell down and died. On the death of the cowherd, the cow returned to the king with blood stains on her body, bellowing in the presence of the Chola King. An anxious king followed the cow to the scene of the incident. Near an ant-hill, the King found the cowherd lying dead on the ground.

While the King stood wondering how it had happened, the Lord rose from the ant-hill and cursed the king to become an Asura (Demon) for the fault of his servant. Entreated by the king who pleaded innocence, the Lord blessed him by saying that His curse would end when He was adorned with the Kireetam presented by Akasa Raja at the time of His marriage with Sri Padmavati. To atone the sins of raising the axe against the Lord, the cowherd's atma (spirit) received the boon that he and his descendants would have the pleasure of opening the door in the Lord's temple in due time.
 
Goddess Padmavati :
 
In due time, the Chola king was re-born as Akasa Raja and though he ruled well, he had no children born to him. When he conducted yagna and was tilling the ground, he found a baby in a lotus flower and named her Alamelu mangai (Lady born in Lotus petals) and adopted her as his daughter. Lord Vishnu reincarnated as Srinivasa (or presented himself after penance in the ant-hill) as the son of elderly woman-saint Vakula. Vakula was Yasodha in her previous birth, Lord Krishna's stepmother and was unhappy in that life for not seeing his marriage. As per the boon received from Krishna, she was re-born as Vakula.

In course of time Princess Padmavati grew up into a beautiful maiden and was visited by Saint Narada. On reading her palm, he foretold that she was destined to be the spouse of Lord Vishnu himself. In due time, Lord Srinivasa on a hunting trip was chasing a wild elephant in the forest. The elephant led him into a garden where Princess Padmavati and her maids were present .The sight of the elephant frightened them and their Princess. When Lord Srinivasa appeared in front of the Elephant, it immediately turned round, saluted the Lord and disappeared into the forest. Lord Srinivasa noticed princess Padmavathi and enquired about her from her maids. Enthralled by her, Lord Srinivasa lost interest in other activities and confided in Vakula on his love for Padmavathi. He also revealed his identity as Lord Vishnu as well as told her about her past life as his stepmother Yasodha.
 
Marriage of Srinivasa & Padmavathi :
 
Vakula devi leaves her hermitage to approach Akasa Raja with her proposal of marriage between Lord Srinivasa and Padmavathi. In the mean time, the restless Lord came to the city in the disguise of a fortune-teller. Princess Padmavathi also fell in love with Lord Srinivasa and fell ill after returning to the Palace. Unable to diagonize her ill-health, the maids invited the fortune-teller into the palace to foretell the future of the princess. When the fortune-teller revealed that Padmavathi was born to marry Lord Vishnu in his current avatar as Lord Srinivasa, she recovered. As the king heard of this news, Vakula announced herself to the King and asked for his daughter's hand in marriage to her son, Lord Srinivasa. The overjoyed king agreed and his advisor Bhrispati wrote the invitation for the wedding between the two avatars.

Lord Srinivasa called for a conference of the Gods to win their consent for His marriage with Princess Padmavati. The Lord also obtained a heavy loan from Kubera, god of wealth in Hindu Mythology towards expenses for the wedding as well as provide proof of his wealth.
 
Lord Srinivasa turns into Lord Venkateswara :
 
In about 6 months after this celestial marriage, MahaLakshmi comes to know that her husband married again and comes to see him in disbelief. It is said that the Lord turns into Stone right when he is encountered by Mahalakshmi and Padmavathi. Lord Brahma and Shiva appear before the confused queens and explain the main purpose behind all this - The Lord's desire to be on the 7 hills for the emancipation of mankind from the perpetual troubles of Kali Yuga. Goddesses Lakshmi and Padmavathi also turn into stone idols expressing their wish to be with their Lord always. Lakshmi stays with Him on His Chest on the left side while Padmavathi rests on His Chest's right side.
 
Construction of Tirumala temple :
 
Rangadasa Rangadasa: was a staunch devotee of Vishnu and in the course of his pilgrimage, joined Sage Vaikhanasa Gopinatha, who was going up the Tirumala Hill for the worship of the Lord. This was after the Lord had settled the Adivaraha region. After bathing in the Swami Pushkarini, Rangadasa viewed Lord Vishnu beneath a tamarind tree. However Lord Vishnu was exposed to the sun, wind and rain and was only protected by the extended wings of Garuda. Rangadasa raised a rough wall of stones around the deity, and started supplying flowers to Gopinatha everyday for Vishnu's worship. One day, Rangadasa was distracted by a Gandharva king and his ladies and forgot to supply flowers to Gopinatha for Vishnu's worship. The Lord then revealed Himself and told Rangadasa that he had not been steadfast and had succumbed to temptation. However in acceptance of Rangadasa's devoted service to Him till then, and blessed Rangadasa that he would be reborn as an affluent ruler of a province and would enjoy the earthly pleasures. He would continue to serve the Lord, construct a beautiful temple with a vimana and high surrounding walls, and thereby earn eternal glory.

Soon the site was forgotten and an ant-hill formed over the temple. This is reputed to be the same ant-hill in which Lord Srinivasa resided later after descending from Vaikuntam.

Thondaman: Rangadasa was reborn as Tondaman, the son of the royal couple, Suvira and Nandini. Tondaman enjoyed a pleasurable life as a young man. One day, he set out on a hunting expedition on the Tirumala Hill, and with the help of a cow-herd, saw Vishnu under the tamarind tree. Tondaman returned home, deeply affected by the vision of Vishnu. Tondaman later inherited his father's kingdom, Tondamandalam.

In accordance with the directions given by Adi Varaha to a forester, Tondaman constructed a prakaram and dvara gopura, and arranged for regular worship of the Lord (according to Vaikhanasa Agama). Lord Srinivasa appears in the dream of Thondaman and asks him to build a temple for Him where He turned into stone. So comes into being the temple for Srinivasa on the seventh hill, named Venkatadri (Venkata Hill).
 
 
 
The Tirumala temples nestles amidst the peaks of the seven hills of Tirumala. The temple can be approached from Tirupati by a 20 km road. It is a pleasant drive for people who admire the tropical greenery on these hills. Many pilgrims even today take a path by foot making an 11 km trek to the temple.

For the devotees, the deity Venkateshwara symbolizes goodness; with his conch he creates the cosmic sound that destroys ignorance and with his disc he destroys evil. Venkateshwara is considered to be the most powerful Hindu deity, he is believed to be the fulfiller of every wish made to him by the devotees. There are never fewer then 50,000 pilgrims here at any time in a single day.

The total number of pilgrims even goes up to 700,000 in a day. The temple staff alone amounts to a number of 18,000. The popularity of the temple can be judged by the annual income which is around six billion rupees. Tirumala temple is the richest temple in the world after Vatican City.

Sthala Purana (literal meaning: the legend of the place) recounts the particular legend associated with ancient Hindu temples. Accordingly, the legend of Venkateshwara's Avatara (incarnation) is believed to be as follows: Sage Bhrugu, who according to Vedas is believed to have an extra eye in the sole of his foot, once visited Vishnu. At that time, Vishnu was in a private meeting with his consort, goddess Lakshmi, and failed to immediately receive and honour the sage. The sage felt humiliated and angry, and kicked Lord Vishnu in the chest. Vishnu did not react and remained silent.

Lord Vishnu's chest is believed to be the abode of Goddess Lakshmi. The Goddess felt highly insulted at the sage's misdemeanour and Lord Vishnu's silence at the act. She left Vaikunta, the heavenly abode of Vishnu and Lakshmi. Lord Vishnu, in an attempt to pacify the sage, got hold of legs of the sage and started to press them gently in a way that was comforting to the sage. During this act, he squished the extra eye that was present in the sole of Bhrugu's foot. The extra eye is believed to represent the sage's egotism. The sage then realised his grave mistake and apologized to Lord Vishnu.

Lord Vishnu had then incarnated Himself as Venkateshwara and came to earth in search of Lakshmi, who had taken birth as Princess Alamelu (Padmavati) in the household of Akasa Rajan. The princess's father agreed to give his daughter's hand in marriage to Venkateshwara if he provided proof of his wealth. Towards this end, Venkateshwara obtained a heavy loan from Kubera, a god (yaksha) who is considered, accordingly to Hindu mythology, as the treasurer of the virtuous wealth in the Universe. Princess Padmavati and Lord Venkateshwara were then wed. Lord Vishnu, in the form of Venkateshwara, and his consort are believed to have enshrined themselves at Tirumala Tirupati for the benefit of mankind. This phenomenon is called swayambhu loosely translated to mean "self-existent and established on earth of one's own accord, without any external cause".

Lord Venkateshwara's temple is at the top of the seven hills in the place called Tirumala. The temple of the Lakshmi, in the form of Princess Padmavati, is located at the foot of the seven hills at Tirupati, in a town called Tiruchanur. Another legend that goes by is that of a boy called Bala. This boy was a helper boy, who was one day wrongly accused as a thief. He ran for his life when he was chased by people. He was hit on the head by the mob and his head was bleeding profusely. He ran to the Tirupathi temple of Lord Vishnu and ran to the main door where GOD is placed. When the people entered the temple they couldn't find the boy but saw the head of God's idol bleeding.It was considered that the boy was sheltered and protected by God himself and the priests put cloth on the idol's head to stop the bleeding. So we see white covering on the God's idol and the presiding God is called BALAJI.

 
 
 
Tirupathi is one of the most famous temple towns in India. It is the abode of Lord Venkateshwara, (one of the incarnations of Lord Vishnu), located atop Tirumala hills. It is well connected with Chennai and Bangalore via road and rail. The temple town of Tirupathi is located to the extreme south of Andhra Pradesh in Chittoor district, 740 km from Hyderabad.

It is renowned for one of the most venerated shrines in India that of the ancient temple of Lord Venkateswara on the Tirumala Hills. Tirumala has seven hills, representing the seven heads of a huge serpent, called Sesha Saye, on which Lord Vishnu resides. The black idol of Balaji is covered in gold, jewellery and precious ornaments and is 2 metres high. Tirupathi is believed to be the richest temple in the country, with picturesque surroundings.

Some people also believe that the financial offerings and collections at this temple are second only to those of the Vatican City Church on a worldwide basis. The temple is also a fine example of Dravidian art and style. It is also a famous center for wood carving.

The Brahmotsavam festival is celebrated here in September and October. Sacred texts are recited each day. Every morning and evening images of the deities are taken in a colourful procession around the temple.

The chariot of Lord Brahma, believed to be the initiator of the festival, leads the procession in the name of Adika-masam which comes in every third year. A second Brahmotsava is held, which is known as Navratri Brahmotsavam. These festivals attract thousands of pilgrims from various parts of the country.

Over millennia, many saints had visited the shrine and offered worship to Lord Venkateswara. Notable among them is Sri Ramanujacharya, who is believed to have installed chakra and conch on the deity after a dispute. The Venkateswara Suprabhatam, being the morning recital of prayers and songs of awakening, is believed to have been written and sung by one of Ramanuja's disciples who visited the temple with his Guru. Sri Vadiraja Thirtha, most prominent among the Madhva saints is believed to have climbed the tirumala hill on his knees and is said to have given a garland of shalagram (saligram) to the Lord.

Traditionally Kurubas build temples on top of the mountains and worshiped the Almighty. This famous temple must have lot of history. This worshiping Venkateswara as Vishnu may be most recent, as Vaishnava priests control the temple. There is Govindaraya Vishnu temple in the Tirupati town down below the hills with Vishnu in Yoga Nidra with Sridevi and Bhoodevi next to him.

Several composers composed beautiful keertanas about Lord Venkateshwara, most notable amongst them being Tyagaraja and Annamacharya. Annamacharya is a legendary devotee of Lord Venkateswara and composed songs almost exclusively about the deity.

TTD Logo: Motto says Srinivasa Vijayethe (Victory to Lord Srinivasa) Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams also referred as TTD is an independent trust which manages the Tirumala Venkateswara Temple at Tirumala, Andhra Pradesh. The trust not only oversees the operations and finances of the richest and the most visited religious center in the world, it is also involved in various social, religious, literary and educational activities within Andhra Pradesh and India. TTD employs about 14,000+ people to maintain the 12 temples and sub-shrines under its control along with the execution of its social activities.

TTD Facilities: TTD provides various services for pilgrims to Tirumala and Tirupati. It has arranged for buses between Tirumala and Tirupati with a frequency of every 2 minutes. Also, it has package tours to holy temples and religious sites from Tirumala and Tirupati to nearby places. TTD has free and paid accommodation in Tirumala and Tirupati. It provides free meals, although donors can make a contribution. The canteen has a capacity to feed 20,000+ pilgrims a day. It has built the Vaikuntam Queue Complex and recently rolled out the queue management system to ensure smooth movement of pilgrims. It maintains the walkway between Tirupati and Tirumala (Alipiri route) and Kalyana Katta where pilgrims fulfill their vow of tonsure.

TTD ensures that the practices of Angapradakshinam, Tulabharam (offering of one's weight in coins or food item) and Niluvudopidi (offering ornaments to Lord) is carried in the temple. It sells prasadams outside the temple on the north west corner. Laddu (small and big), Vada, rice varieties and dosa are sold. Also, Seva and darshan prasadam are distributed here. It runs Information centers in the major towns and cities of Andhra Pradeshi and in major Indian cities including New Delhi, Chennai, Bangalore, Mumbai and Kolkata. It has constructed 125 Kalyana mandapams (marriage halls) in major towns and cities of Andhra Pradesh. These are rented to people for Marriage or other major functions.