The town of Tirupati-Balaji is one of the most ancient and sacred pilgrimage spots in India. The name Tirupati-Balaji means the 'Lord of Lakshmi', and should have been applied to the village on the Venkat hill, the dwelling of Lord Venkateswara. However, Tirupati-Balaji is the town and transport hub at the bottom of the hill. The hill near the temple is called Tirumala or the 'sacred hill'. The temple here is said to be the busiest in the world, eclipsing even Rome, Jerusalem, and Mecca in the number of pilgrims visiting it.
One of the major attractions in Tirupati-Balaji is the world famous Sri Venkateswara Temple. As a large number of devotees visit this temple everyday, be prepared to wait for almost twenty hours before you can get the darshan of the deity. The other shrines that you can visit while on a trip to Tirupati-Balaji are the Sri Govindrajaswamy Temple consecrated by Saint Ramanujacharya in AD 1130; Sri Kapileswaraswami Temple, the only temple dedicated to Lord Siva; Sri Kodandaramaswami Temple, which has Rama, Sita and Lakshmana as the presiding deities; and the legendary Sri Kalyana Venkateswaraswami Temple. You can also visit Tiruchanur, where the temple of Sri Padmavathi Devi is situated.
Besides continuing the religious trail, excursions around Tirupati-Balaji take you to some beautiful picnic spots. You can take a trip to Chandragiri to see the famous Chandragiri Fort. Sri Kalahasthi, located between two steep hills on the banks of the river Swarnamukhi, houses a temple dedicated to Vayu, the God of wind. The Agastyaswamy Temple (12 km) has three beautifully sculptured entrances. Kalyani Dam (18 km) is situated in the Rangampet forest on the Tirupati-Balaji-Madanapallee Road. Horsley Hills is a charming little hill station on the southwest border of Andhra Pradesh. Nagalapuram (65 km) is a small town that houses the Sri Vedanarayana Swamy Temple. The Kailasakona Waterfalls is a beautiful waterfall whose water is said to possess curative powers. Narayanavanam (22 km) has a shrine dedicated to Kalyana Venkateswara.
The Brahmotsavam is the most important temple festival celebrated at Tirupati-Balaji. Celebrated annually in September, the festival is especially grand every third year when it is called Navratri Brahmotsavam. On the third day of the Brahmotsavam, the temple car festival called Rathotsavam is held. Both the temple chariot and the Lord are gaily decorated and taken around the streets of Tirumala.
The south Indian town of Tirupati-Balaji is easily accessible through air, road and rail from the other major Indian cities and states. touristplacesinindia can arrange for you all types of transport for your comfortable journey to and in Tirupati-Balaji and throughout the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh.
In order to make the travel tour to Tirupati-Balaji even more joyful you need to choose just the right kind of accommodation for you and your family or friends in and around Tirupati-Balaji. The various hotels packages in and around Tirupati-Balaji offer the best of facilities. You may take your pick from a range of luxury and budget hotels in and around Tirupati-Balaji besides the star categorized accommodation hotels around the landmarks of Tirupati-Balaji. Most of the places to stay in and around Tirupati-Balaji are strategically located in the pilgrim centers or near the railway station.
PLACES TO VISIT IN TIRUPATI-BALAJI:-
Sri Venkateswara Temple :- Lying on the southern banks of Sri Swami Pushkarini (a tank), the ancient temple of Sri Venkateswara is located on the seventh peak of the Tirupati-Balaji Hills and is a major attraction here. The deity here has been described as the great bestower of boons, and the ancient Hindu texts talk of the benefits acquired by a pilgrimage undertaken to this temple.
A masterpiece of Dravidian architecture, this 12th-century Vaishnavite temple is located at about 18 km north west of Tirupati-Balaji. The gold-plated spire (Ananda Nilaya Vimanam) over the sanctum sanctorum presents an awe-inspiring sight as it comes alive with the early rays of the dawn. At night, the vimanam is well illuminated and is the focal point of the night sky atop the Tirumala. The temple flag post is also gold plated and stands tall in all its magnificence. The idol of Lord Venkateswara, supposed to be a form of Vishnu, has four arms, one holding a conch, the second a discus, the third in the abhaya (blessing) pose, with the fourth resting on the hip. The girdle of the serpent, an emblem of Lord Shiva, encircles both the front arms. Theoretically, the inner shrines of the temple are open only to Hindus but foreigners are also welcome.
Sri Govindrajaswamy Temple :- The temple of Sri Govindarajaswami is one of the most visited temples in Tirupati-Balaji. The temple has an imposing gopuram (elaborate gateway) that can be seen from a distance. The temple was consecrated by Saint Ramanujacharya in AD 1130. The main sanctuaries in the temple are dedicated to Vishnu and Krishna.
Sri Kapileswaraswami Temple :- Situated at about 3 km to the north of Tirupati-Balaji, at the foot of the Tirumala Hill, is Sri Kapileswaraswami Temple. Amidst all the Vaishnava temples in Tirupati-Balaji, Sri Kapileswaraswami Temple is the only temple dedicated to Lord Siva. The temple has an attractive setting and there is a sacred waterfall called Kapila Teertham or Alwar Teertham located here.
Sri Kodandaramaswami Temple :- Built by a Chola king during the tenth century AD, Sri Kodandaramaswami Temple is situated in the heart of Tirupati-Balaji town. The temple has Rama, Sita and Lakshmana as the presiding deities. Legend has it that this temple commemorates the visit of Lord Rama to Tirupati-Balaji. The temple of Anjaneyaswami, which is directly opposite, is a sub-shrine of this temple.
Tiruchanur :- Also known as Alamelumangapuram, Tiruchanur is situated at about 5 km from Tirupati-Balaji. Here one can find a temple of Sri Padmavathi Devi or Goddess Lakshmi, the consort of Lord Sri Venkateswara. It is said that a visit to Tirumalai is fruitful only after visiting the Sri Padmavathi Devi temple. The sub-temples in its premises include the Sri Krishnaswamy Temple, Sri Sundara Rajaswamivari Temple, and Sri Suryanarayana Swamivari Temple.
Sri Kalyana Venkateswaraswami Temple :- About 12 km to the west of Tirupati-Balaji lies the Sri Kalyana Venkateswaraswami temple at Srinivasa Mangapuram. Legend has it that Lord Venkateswara stayed here after his marriage with Sri Padmavathi Devi before proceeding to Tirumala.
Chandragiri :- The town of Chandragiri is located at about 11 km southwest of Tirupati-Balaji. Once the capital of the Vijayanagar rulers in AD 1600, the town is famous for the Chandragiri Fort that has been built on a 180-metre-high rock. Here one can still come across well-preserved fortifications and some palaces and temples.
Sri Kalahasthi :- Located between two steep hills on the banks of the river Swarnamukhi about 36 km from Tirupati-Balaji, is Sri Kalahasti. Here you can find a temple dedicated to Vayu, the God of wind. The river running north touches the base of the temple.
Agastyaswamy Temple :- About 12 km from Tirupati-Balaji at the confluence of three rivers, namely, Swarnamukhi, Bhima and Kalyan, lies the Agastyaswamy Temple. The temple has three beautifully sculptured entrances that heighten the grandeur of the hall inside. A separate shrine for Goddess Parvati is also located within the temple.
Just opposite the shrine in the middle of the river is a mandap on which the statues of Balaji, Ayyappa and Ganapati have been installed. A small shrine dedicated to Rama, Sita, Lakshmana and Anjaneya is located near the tank.
Kalyani Dam :- About 18 km from Tirupati-Balaji, in the Rangampet forest on the Tirupati-Balaji-Madanapallee Road, lies the Kalyani Dam. The dam is the main water source for Tirupati-Balaji and Tirumalai.
Horsley Hills :- This charming little hill station lies on the southwest border of Andhra Pradesh at an altitude of about 1,265 metres above sea level. The resort, named after the former collector of Chittoor, is a fascinating place to visit. Here you can find out valleys clad with teak, mango, sandalwood and eucalyptus plantations.
Nagalapuram :- Nagalapuram is a small town about 65 km south-east of Tirupati-Balaji. The major attraction of this town is Sri Vedanarayana Swamy Temple. The temple, believed to have been constructed by the Vijayanagar emperor, Sri Krishna Devaraja at the behest of his mother, is a fine specimen of the Vijayanagar style of architecture. The sanctum sanctorum houses an image of Vishnu in his Matsya (fish) incarnation accompanied by Sri Devi and Bhu Devi on either side. An important aspect of the temple is the Sun worship. The temple has been constructed in a way that every year in the month of March the rays of the sun pass through its gopuram and fall on the idol in the sanctum for three days.
Kailasakona Waterfalls :- Situated in the Nagary Valley, this beautiful waterfall is worth a visit. The water here is quite rich in minerals and is said to possess curative powers.
Narayanavanam :- A shrine dedicated to Kalyana Venkateswara is a major attraction at Narayanavanam, a small town situated about 22 km south-east of Tirupati-Balaji. Legend has it that Lord Venkateswara married Padmavathi Devi, the daughter of Akasa Raja, at this place. To commemorate this great event, Akasa Raja built the temple here.
Brahmotsavam :- The Brahmotsavam is the most important temple festival celebrated at Tirupati-Balaji. Celebrated annually in September, the festival is especially grand every third year when it is called Navratri Brahmotsavam. On the third day of the Brahmotsavam, the temple car festival called Rathotsavam is held. Both the temple chariot and the Lord are gaily decorated and taken around the streets of Tirumala.
On the final day of the Tirupati-Balaji festival, the image of Lord Venkateswara is taken out in procession in a spectacular white horse-drawn chariot. Before returning to his shrine, the deity bathes in the Swami Pushkarini tank followed by thousands of tonsured, white-clad devotees trying to wash off their sins. During the spectacular deepakulam ceremony, this ancient temple tank is full of decorated boats and thousands of brass lamps are reflected in the water. The entire hilltop resounds with Sanskrit mantras (sacred chants) and the music of bells, drums, cymbals, flutes, and temple horns. The perfumes of camphor, sandalwood, incense, jasmine, rose, and marigold fills the air.
Vijayanagar Festival :- The Vijayanagar Festival is held for three days at the historic Chandragiri Fort near Tirupati-Balaji in the third week of October every year. The fort is a living testimony to the valour of the rulers of Vijayanagar, and the festival coincides with the annual Brahmotsavam at the Tirupati-Balaji Temple. Musicians and dancers from all over the state come here to perform during the festival. The Rayalseema Food Festival is also held at the same time. During this festival, most of the local delicacies of the state are presented.
Several other festivals are held at Tirupati-Balaji all through the year. The Kalyanotsavam (marriage of the Lord) is celebrated everyday at the Kalyanmandapam except during the Brahmotsavam and on certain other festive occasions. Devotees can perform this ceremony on payment of Rs. 3000..