TIRUMALA HILLS & ITS HISTORY:
Tirumala is located about 3,200 feet above the sea level. It is surrounded by seven hills as given below: They are the seven peaks of Seshachalam range. The main temple of Venkateshwara (on Tirumala) is the seventh peak.
THE SEVEN HILLS OF TIRUMALA ARE:
1) Vrushabadri, Hill of Nandi, the vahana of Lord Shiva
2) Anjanadri,Hill of Lord Hanuman
3) Neeladri, Hill of Neela Devi
4) Garudadri, Hill of Garuda, the vahana of Lord Vishnu
5) Seshadri,Hill of Sesha, the dasa of Lord Vishnu
6) Naraynadri,Hill of Narayana (Vishnu)
7) Venkatadri,Hill of Lord Venkateswara
In Tamil, the Tirumala hills is called the Nedion Kunram where Nedion means “Vishnu” and Kuram means “Hill”. It is a part of the munt Meru where the Adi Varaha decided to reside to help people of the Earth attain salvation. It is the main idea of helping people who are failing to initiate realization of the God through Karma Yoga, Bhakti Yoga or Dhyana Yoga. Tirumala Hills came from Vishnu’s to the Earth by mount Garuda. The seven hills or the seven peaks are believed to be the seven heads of Adisesha (nagraja, i.e, king of all nagas where Adisesha uncoils to move time forward to the future).
Telugu and Tamil are the main languages and the major religion is Hinduism. Men usually wear Dhotis and women Sarees. The practice of tonsure and using Tilaka are major practices in Tirumala Tirupati.
“Annadanam Samam Danam Trilokeshu Na Vidhathe”. This means: Annadanam (offering food) is supreme and incomparable to any charity. Thus, this means according to the Vedas, that he who offers food to the devoted pilgrims, attains Punya Loka (heaven) in Brahmanda (the Universe). The entire food offering process takes place at Matrusri Tarigonda Vengamamba Annaprasadam Complex at Tirumala. One has to wait in the queues and
compartments of Vaikuntham Queue Complex I and II, foot path routes etc. The number exceeds more than 15,000 devotees who gets to recive and gives Annadanam in Tirupati. Apart from Annadanam, Laddoo Prasadam sevas take place. On average, about 3,00,000 laddoss are sold in Tirupati.
For Divya Darshan devotees (pedestrian pilgrims) and Sarva Darshan (free darshan), the laddoos are sold at a subsidized rate of 10/- INR each where the normal price is about 25/- INR. The TTD trust has invited Working or retired employees of Central or State Goverment or Quasi government or PSU or Nationalized Insurance and Banking Sectors to participate in this New Seva on as volunteers. Pilgrims / devotees can apply online for Laddu Prasada Seva and they will be identified
as “Laddu Prasada Sevakulu”. In the Vaikuntam Queue Complex (the Queue Management system in Tirupati), inside the holding areas and rooms, TTD provides free food, fresh milk,coffee,tea, food packets (reasonable rates) and sanitary facilities as well as medical aid facilities at free of cost. T=In the canteen complex, wholesome food is available in moderate prices. Regarding free meals, the TTD trust provides free meals from 10:00 am to 11:00 PM on a coupon system.
Shopping is a massive attraction in Tirupati. There are 1000-s of Religious Souvenirs, black wooden replicas of Tirupati idol besides pictures, pendants, audio and video CD-s and DVD-s, books and Stothras, brass lamps, rangoli stickers, vermillion in garish boxes etc. Tanjore style Gold Leafe paintings also famous in Tirupati (with mythological motifs and themes) and Kalamkari Fabric which is very popular in India and abroad. Lepakshi Showroom is one the best places to get Kalamkari Fabrics and authentic local woodwork. Laminations of Lord pictures, Lord with lighting bulbs are exported from India. Lepakshi Emposrium of the Andhra Pradesh state also has an outlet in the Srinivasam
Complex. Cotton dress materials are imported. Allagada, Dornakambala, Madanpally, Villages near Tirupati are some of the shopping places in Tirupati.
Besides Sevas, the following devotional activities are performed in Tirupati:
1) Tonsuring : Giving away one’s hair to Tirupati signifying that one completely surrenders his/her soul to Tirupati Balaji
2) Angapradakshinam : Pilgrims lying prostrate and then roll around the temple by chanting the name of the Lord.
3) Thulabharam : This means offering one’s weight in terms of coins or candies or sugar according to the desire of the Lord.
4) Niluvudopidi : Offering one’s belongings to the Lord.
FACILITIES AT TIRUPATHI:
Marriages are also performed at the Tirupati Temple in the name of the Lord ensuring peace and harmony in a married life. There are thousands of Mandaps in Tirupathi, Shubham Convention Centre, PMR Convention, OrgEve, Vorla LaxmaReddy Convention Hall, Greenhouse Function Hall to name a few.
PLACES TO VISIT NEAR TIRUMALA:
Besides being the most holy and sacred places in India, it also has innumerable spots of natural an pristine beauty. Tirumala is renowned for Vedic scriptures to be the abode of a thousand “Theertas”, i.e, the sacred mountain streams along the green pasture. It includes jungles and forests which are yet to be frequented by the pilgrims. Some most-visit places in Tirumala are:
2. Varahaswamy Temple
3. Sri Hathiramjee Matt
4. Bedi Anjaneya Temple
5. Srivari Sikhara Darshanam
6. Sila Thoranam
9. Papavinasanam Trip
Pilgrims can also visit the Talakona waterfalls, The TTD gardens, Deer Park, Sri Govindarajaswamy Temple, Srikalahasti (where the Sivalinga is worshipped as Vayu Linga), Kanipakam, Silathoranam, Asthana Mandapam,Sri Venkateswara Dhyana Vignan Mandeeram, the Rock Garden, Regional Science Centre, Chandragiri palaces and Fort and Sri Venkateswara Wildlife Sanctuary, to name a few. The holy water sites include the Pandava Teertham, Kumaradhara Teertham, Tumbhuru Teertham, Ramakrishna Teertham, Pasupu Teertham amongst others.