Editor’s Note: Lord Venkateswara in Tirupathi, Andhra Pradesh, is the world’s ‘richest God’ with an estimated annual income of more than $US 400 million. The Temple has more than 2000 kgs of gold and more than $US 500 million worth of other forms of jewels and jewellery. According to a legend, Lord Vishnu in this Avatar owes money to Kubera in connection with His marriage to ‘Alarmelu Manga’ or Padmavathi and hence is seeking ‘donations’ from his devotees.
Lord Venkateswara is becoming increasingly popular with people of all religions and many plan to visit the Temple during the ensuing holiday season. We dedicate the following article to the Lord and to His Devotees.
Saviour of mankind
Sri Venkateswara Swamy Temple is a landmark Vishnu Temple, situated in the hill town of Tirumala at Tirupathi in Chittoor district of Andhra Pradesh, India.
The Temple is dedicated to Lord Venkateswara, an incarnation of Vishnu, who is believed to have appeared to save mankind from trials and troubles of Kali Yuga.
Hence the place has also got the name Kaliyuga Vaikuntham and Lord here is referred to as Kaliyuga Prathyaksha Deivam.
The Temple is also known as Tirumala Temple, Tirupathi Temple, Tirupathi Balaji Temple. Venkateswara is known by many other names including Balaji, Govinda and Srinivasa.
The Tirumala Hills are part of the Seshachalam Hills range and are 853 metres above sea level. The Hills comprise seven peaks, representing the seven heads of Adisesha.
The seven peaks are called Seshadri, Neeladri, Garudadri, Anjanadri, Vrushabhadri, Narayanadri and Venkatadri.
The Venkateswara Temple is located on the seventh peak, namely Venkatadri, on the southern banks of Sri Swami Pushkarini, a holy water tank.
Hence the Temple is also called, ‘Temple of Seven Hills.’
Tirumala town covers about 10.33 square miles (27 km2) of land.
The Temple was constructed in 300 AD conforming to the Dravidian Architecture.
The Garbagriha (Sanctum Sanctorum) is called ‘Ananda Nilayam.’
Venkateswara, the Presiding Deity, is in standing posture and faces east in Garbha Griha.
The Temple follows Vaikhanasa Agama tradition of worship. It is one of the eight Vishnu Swayambhu Kshetras and is listed as 106th and the last earthly Divya Desam.
The Temple premises has two modern queue complex buildings to manage the heavy pilgrim season (Tarigonda Venkamamba Annaprasadam complex for free food, hair tonsure buildings and a number of other lodging sites.
It is the richest temple in the world in terms of donations received and wealth, and the most-visited place of worship in the world.
More than 400 million devotees visit the Temple every year (or about 100,000 visitors every day of the year), while on special occasions and festivals, like the annual Brahmotsavam, the number of pilgrims could rise to 500,000 a day.
The Lord of the Seven Hills stands closest to Chennai, the Capital of Tamil Nadu (138 kms) and Bangalore, the Capital of Karnataka (291 kms) and is farther from major cities of Andhra Pradesh, namely Hyderabad (572 kms) and Vijayawada (435 kms).
There are several legends associated with the manifestation of the Lord in Tirumala. According to one legend, the Temple has a Murthi (Deity) of Lord Venkateswara, which is expected to remain until the end of the Kali Yuga.
Photo :Lord Venkateswara with His Consort Goddess Alarmelu Manga (The Goddess on Lotus or Goddess Lakshmi), at the Sanctum Santorum of the Temple