Tirupati/Tirumala: A Glimpse of the Opulence of God
Tirumala is where the Venkateshwara (Shri Balaji) Temple is located. Tirumala is located twelve miles from Tirupati on Vyenkata Hill at an altitude of 2,800 feet. The Venkateshwara temple is 414 feet long, 263 feet wide and covers an area of 2.2 acres.
“Venkateshwara” means “The Lord of Vyenkatachala” and Vyenkatachala is a chain of Hills. The Temple is situated on the top of seven adjoining hills, also called Seshachalam Hills, which are said to be the incarnation of Ananta Sesa, the hooded serpent who acts as an umbrella to the Lord.
The Lord’s appearance in Tirumala is mentioned in about twelve different Puranas. According to the Brahma Purana, Lord Vishnu wanted a change from Vaikuntha (the spiritual planets), so he inquired from Narada Muni about a place on earth for diversion and sport. Narada suggested Sesachala (the head of Ananta Sesa).
This temple is one of the most important Vishnu temples in India and it is also the richest. It is the most visited temple in India and one can wait for hours to have darshan (viewing) of the deity. Despite the queues, visitors to the temple find it to be a very devotional experience. On average, over 25,000 people visit daily and on festival days there can be more than 100,000 visitors. On a spiritual tour of South India, it highly recommended to visit this temple.
The deity is known as Venkateshwara, Srinivasa, Govinda or Balaji. Balaji is made of a jet-black stone. His diamond crown, made in Antwerp, the diamond capital of the world, is said to be the most valuable single piece of jewellery in the world. The murti stands seven feet tall.
It is said that at Tirumala, Lord Vishnu, grants the wish of anyone who offers to him their weight in some substance, whether it be gold, fruit, cloth or anything else. Pilgrims who make such an offering and ask a boon or blessing generally return (after achieving their desire) and make another offering to the Lord, acknowledging His kindness.
Tirupati is located 81 miles west of Madras.