Tirupati Temple

Tirupati Balaji
Vital Information for Visitors

Venkateshwara Temple, Tirumala, Tirupati, Andhra Pradesh

Open & Close:

Open on all days
03:00 AM – 01:00 PM

Darshan Timings :

Sarva Darshan (General): 7:30 AM – 1:00 AM
Shighra Darshan (VIP): 9:00 AM – 3:00 PM

Puja / Seva Timings :

Suprabhatam – 2:30 AM
Thomala Seva – 3:30 AM
Venkateshwara Shasranam Archana – 4:15 AM
Ekantha Seva – 1:30 AM

Entry Fee:



1- 2 Hours


Most visited Hindu temple

The most famous among the holy places of Andhra Pradesh is Tirupati Temple. Both, the town at the foot of the seven hills and the temple of Vishnu situated at an altitude of 2,800 feet are known as Tirupati, though the sacred hill-top institution is Tirumala. The temple is not located in the city of Tirupati but fifteen kilometers in the Tirumala Hills, 700 meter above sea level. Easily accessible by train or road transport from Hyderabad, Vijayawada, Chennai, and any other major town in the South, Tirupati can also be reached by plane from Chennai.

Legend: It is said that once Vishnu was so much enchanted by the hills, Seshachalam, that he sat down there for meditation. Ages passed and his body got changed into a stone image. An ant-hill enveloped him. The mountain was covered by a forest. A shepherd who led his flock into the forest observed that his best cow regularly found her way to a certain spot atop the hill and then let her flow on the ant-hill. He realized that the ant-hill hid something sacred. He ran to his king and told him about the phenomenon. The king discovered the stone idol and erected a temple over it. Through the ages the kings of different dynasties donated liberally to the temple which became one of the richest temples in India. The pilgrims make offerings.

Religious Significance: T irupati is believed to be on the seven hills of the mythological mountain Meru Parvat. According to the Puranas, these hills form the body of the Adisheshnaga (the legendary serpent on whose multiple hoods earth is situated; also whose body makes the bed of Lord Vishnu). The coils of Adisheshnaga denote the timeless concept of the cosmos. According to the belief prevalent in South India, Lord Venkatachalpati, the lord of the seven hills, dances on the seven hoods of the Adishesha. The legend goes that there arose a contest between Adishesha and Vayudeva (god of the winds) to establish supremacy in such a coveted region. Vayudeva tried to destroy all thousand peaks of Mount Meru. Adishesha protected them by his thousand mighty hoods. Though Vayudeva tried very hard, he saw no chance of winning. He then lied low pretending to be asleep. Adishesha was deceived because as he lifted the hoods thinking all was safe, Vayu suddenly began to blow off the hills. One such hill is still at the spot of Thirupati. Thirupati lies in the midst of Sheshachalam hills. These hills are also called Thirumalai. Two other places have to be mentioned, they are Ahobalam and Shri Sailam. At Ahobalam, which is considered to be the central part of the body of Adishesha, where the Lord is worshipped as Narsimha Murti, while Shri Sailam is considered to be the tail end of Adishesha in the form of Shiva Lingam.

Nature takes different forms at different places. A unique perfection of form, equilibrium and an over-all harmonizing grace at a particular spot draws the attention of an evolved soul who perceives the Divine at that place. Thus, a place gets its mythological sublimity. This group of seven hills lies in the Eastern Ghat ranges. The Eastern Ghats break up into a number of parallel ranges on the southern side of river Krishna. The central ranges, called Nallamalai, meet the eastern ranges around Tirupati. The top of the Tirumalai hill is two thousand feet above the sea level. That is the spot chosen for the majestic abode of Lord Venkateshwara. It is believed that at this place the temple remains sacred in all Yugas (legendary divisions of the circle of Time). It was known as Vrishabhachala in the Satyuga, Anjanachala in Tretayuga, Sheshachala in Dwapara and Venkatachala in Kaliyuga, the current age.

Tirupati is equated to Vaikuntha, the heavenly abode of Lord Vishnu. It is believed that the first human form of the Lord which he took for the worship and benefit of the human beings was at the Tirupati Temple which is the Trinity combined. But visible in the shrine are only two aspects of the Trinity, that is, Vishnu and Shiva. The form of Brahma is absent. The presence of Jata (matted elongated knot of hair) atop, Naga on the right arm and the form of Laxmi on the right side of chest are the signs of Shiva and Vishnu respectively which are visible (vyakta) while Brahma is invisible (Avyakta). The shrine has been described as the visible form of the Supreme Being. The vessels used for worship are filled every night with Punyatirtha which is distributed as ‘prasadam’ every morning, as it is considered to be Abhishektirtha used by the guarding angels.

The great Vaisnavite saint Ramanuja in 12th Century AD established clear concepts about the identity and the image of the diety at Tirupati and laid out rules for the rituals of worship, the routine of the pujaris (the priests) and the staying arrangements for the priests and the pilgrims. Shri Ramanuja established that the idol of Shrinivasa at Tirupathi is total representation of the Supreme, in all its aspects. The idol in the main temple is in the standing posture, each part of the body has been given different interpretations. His left hand is dropping straight to His feet, asking for whole-hearted devotion of the devotees. The right hand is in Varadmudra (pose of total blessing). In the adjacent temple complex which is called Dhruva Bera, a small silver replica of the main idol is kept for daily worship. There are yet two more idols. One is called Samapan Shrinivasa Murthy which is taken out once in a year on Kantaka Dwadashi at 4 AM on a round and taken back to the temple before sunrise. The other idol is called Utsava Bera and is taken out on festive occasions.

Ramanuja made a significant addition to the main idol of Lord Shrinivasa by getting shankha and chakra (the conch shell and the wheel weapon) added to the idol. By doing that Shri Ramanuja put on end to the dispute about the identity of the image. Shaivites had asserted that it was the image of Lord Shiva while Vaishnavites had asserted it to be the idol of Vishnu. Ramanuja suggested that shankha and chakra should be placed near the main idol after the night worship and left these for the lord to indicate his preference. It is said that the Lord was pleased with the prayer of Ramanuja and picked up the two emblems of Vishnu and took them on: The temple became Vishnu temple since then.

One custom is very special to this temple. The entire body of the idol is anointed by camphor. Another custom which is considered sacred part of the pilgrimage is to get the head shaved. This is a form of sacrifice adopted uniformly by male as well as female devotees, and also the children. People are said to perform this on fulfillment of some vow.

Ramanuja had laid out the rules that only priests could reside on the top of the hill and the rest should live at the foot of the hills. The flowers grown atop were to be used only for the worship of the Lord. No killing or hunting was allowed and even a seriously ailing devotee had to be brought down so that one should not die where resides the Lord. No other temple was allowed to be constructed within a radius of 7 to 8 miles. The deity is believed to be Swayambhu, that is, self- manifested. The earliest reference which is available about the deity is from the celebrated poet Mamulanar and other poets of Sangam age (500 BC to 300 AD).

The sacred Vimana, called Anand Vimana, is said to have been constructed by Tatacharya around 1570 AD. He was the supervisor of temples of the Vijayanagar kingdom. Venkatapathi Maharaja, the deity, was also considered the spiritual Guru of the king. Goddess Alamelumanga, the consort of the Lord, chose to be at the feet of the Lord, hence her temple is at the lower Tirupati. Without visiting and worshiping the goddess, the pilgrimage remains incomplete.

There is another temple at lower Tirupati which is of Shri Kodanda Ramaswami. Shri Adi Shankara is said to have placed Dhanakarshan Yantra (a talisman to attract money) at Tirupati which continues to attract unprecedented wealth to the temple and has facilitated the establishment of many academic institutions, hospitals and made other philanthropic activities possible.

References to this temple are numerous in the Puranic literature. Brahma Purana is replete with references to the Tirupati temple. The religious services are elaborate and begin right early in the morning. Worship starts at 4 AM, which is followed by free darshan (opportunity to see the Lord). There are two free darshans both in the morning and evening, while for the rest, a fee is charged.

There is a very unique custom of rendering of accounts to the Lord. This is done on a public address system. The most important festival of this temple is Brahmotsava which lasts for ten days.

About Tirupati Temple: The main temple is a masterpiece of South Indian architecture. The ‘Vimana’ over the sanctum is entirely covered with gold. The temple is topped with a pyramidal ‘shikhar’, fully plated with gold inside. The deity is depicted in black stone and adorned with rubies and gold. The deity also wears a diamond crown which would be the most precious ornament of the world! Tirupati is a pilgrimage and Hindus visit the shrine in group or family. The temple itself is like a big modern building but in fact we learn that the original temple dates from the ninth century. Of course it was renovated several times. The temple itself is called Shri Venkateshwara, named after a form of Vishnu who grants favors and that is precisely what attracts Hindus who seek help and favors for their business, their family. All this makes this temple the most visited religious site; there are 25,000 pilgrims a day and up to 100,000 on holidays, which is more than the visitors in Jerusalem or Rome!

It is also a rich temple! Donations are important and some days soar to more than a million dollars! The temple has annual revenues of $ 250 million. To enter the temple the "ticket" is taken but one can choose more expensive formulas accompanied by various benefits. The rich pay several lacs to come up with 10 people, do not queue, and direct access to the prayer vigils. Poor people queue for several hours, sometimes days! The administration of the temple is a real business and has 6,000 employees! The temple, through a trust, controlled by the Government, runs a number of educational, medical and other useful institutions.

One feature of this temple is that the faithful donate their hair to the deity and one can see many men and women, and also children, shorn. The hair is meant to beautify the human being and to get rid of them is considered and effort to shirk away from all vanity; the offering is made after the fulfillment of a vow and the hair is then exported to the USA and Japan where they are used to make wigs, or are sold to German and Italian pharmaceutical companies!

Worship the god Venkateshwara is not an easy affair. For starters, traditional Indian clothes are required to enter the temple area - Dhotis for gentlemen (kind of skirt that wraps around the hips), and Kurta (pants, long tunic and scarf) or Saris for the ladies. It is a whirlwind of colors that wraps around us in Tirupati. The ladies especially, are dressed in their finery even if they are temporarily deprived of jasmine that perfumes usually their hair (in Tirupati flowers are reserved for religious offerings). In order to reach the temple, one has to be part of a long queue. The queue generally lasts for several hours, punctuated by chants of pilgrims.

The second major activity on the sidelines of the temple, it is the factory laddus, this Indian pastry which is part of the process of purification and of pilgrimage. Weight and composition of the pastry are extremely codified, having been dictated by the god himself. It is customary to bring the pastry all around Him to get blessing and the Laddu, composed of dried fruit, condensed milk etc. has become an institution for sharing with loved as grace of God, received during the pilgrimage.

The hill-top is charming. The climb to it through the 25 km, that (pass) road either by automobile or on foot is an exciting experience. The temple of Lord Venkateshwara draws a regular stream of devotees throughout the year. The travel facilities are excellent and so are the arrangements of stay. Dharmashalas are free and are available on rent for stay.

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