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Tourist Places To Visit In Tirupati
Tirupati is considered one of the holiest temple cities of India, not only for the Balaji Temple at Tirumala, but also for the numerous ancient temples and forts that lie on the plains.
Tirumala or Upper Tirupati was an ancient Vaishnavite centre around the 5th century AD, but the plains of Tirupati or Lower Tirupati had people settling in only by 1500. A tiny village or kottaru cropped up at the foothills of the Tirumala hills. The ancient Govindaraja Swamy Temple became predominant, the kottaru and more villages came up around the temple that emerged as the heart of the township.
There are many a number of very interesting places in and around Tirupati that are very significant tourist centres. We will give you a list of some of them you can visit while in Tirupati.
Tirupati Srinivasa Temple
The Srinivasa or Balaji Temple atop the Venkatadri peak, one of the seven summits of the Tirumala Hills is one of the world’s renowned and richest pilgrimage centres.
According to Varaha Purana, the Tirumala Hills was the abode of Varahaswamy, who gladly gifted away a portion of his land on the southern bank of the Swami Pushkarini tank to Lord Srinivasa. On the northwest corner of the Pushkarini tank is a shrine for Varahaswamy, where pilgrims offer salutations before entering the shrine of Srinivasa. The ancient temple is said to have been built by King Thondaimaan of Thondaimandalam in a Dravidian style of architecture around the 8th century, with later contributions from the rulers of the Vijayanagara Empire and the kings of Chandragiri and Tirupati.
There are frequent buses that can take you from Lower Tirupati to the Tirumala hill temple. People also trek up the hill, through two well maintained stone footpaths called sopanamargas.
Govindaraja Swamy Temple
Govindaraja Swamy Temple is one of the most ancient temples of Tirupati. Consecrated in 1130 AD by Saint Ramanujacharya, the huge temple complex houses shrines to Vishnu as Govindaraja Swamy.
The gopuram that was built by the 14th century is a 50 m high seven storied edifice with exquisite sculptures from the Ramayana and Mahabharata. Beyond the tall gopuram are smaller gopurams, that are eye catching displays of architectural beauty. It is believed that Govindaraja Swamy was the brother of Srinivasa of Tirumala and was the caretaker for the wealth borrowed from Kubera for Srinivasa’s wedding with Padmavathi. He is said to have managed the finances for the wedding so efficiently, promising to repay the loan manifold, that prayers that the pilgrims offer at Govindaraja Swamy temple is believed to increase one’s wealth and prosperity as well as bless them manage their assets efficiently.
Govindaraja Swamy Temple is located close to the Tirupati railway station and is open from 5.00 am – 9.00 pm.
Padmavathi Thayar Temple
Temple legends say that Goddess Lakshmi appeared on the golden lotus at the Padmasarovaram tank as a baby girl, who would eventually be brought up as a princess in the palace of King Akasharajan of Thondaimandalam. After the celestial marriage of Lord Srinivasa and Padmavathi, Padmavathi Temple was built during the reign of Thondaimaan Chakravarthi, who was the brother of Padmavathi.
Inside the Padmavathi Temple complex are smaller shrines for Azhagiyaperumal and Varadharaja swami. On the bank of the Padmasarovam Tank and to the north of Padmavathi thayar shrine is a shrine for Suryanarayana Swami, said to have been installed by Lord Srinivasa. This region is also called Baskara Kshetram.
It is a normal routine for pilgrims to visit the Padmavathi Thayar temple, before continuing their pilgrimage to the Tirumala Hills. Padmavathi Thayar temple is at Thiruchanur, about 5 km from Tirupati.
This is an ancient, more of less abandoned fort that has been transformed into a museum presently. The Chandragiri Fort was built by the Yadava Rayas of the 11th century and later changed hands passing through the reign of the Vijayanagara Empire, Golconda Sultans and the Kings of Mysore.
The rocky backdrop of the Fort encircles small temples, some of them ancient, but a few new shrines too. The Museum functions from the Raja Mahal or the king’s palace and has several artefacts that were used when the fort was active, as well as models of the temples around the region. Srivari Mettu, one of the two paths that pilgrims use to walk up the Tirumala Hills, begin at the Chandragiri Fort area. The Fort is about 12 km from Tirupati.
Veda Narayana Perumal Temple
This is a beautiful temple for Vishnu who assumed the Matsya (fish) avatar, to retrieve the Vedas from the demon Somukasura. Veda Narayana Perumal stands tall, armed with the Sudharshana Chakra and with a fish like tail from the waist downwards and his consorts Sreedevi and Bhoodevi at either side. Interestingly, in the Tamil month of Panguni (March) when the Surya Puja Mahotsavam is celebrated for three days, the rays of the sun fall directly on Veda Narayana Perumal's feet on the first day, on the Naabhi (navel) on the second day and on the forehead on the sunset of the third day.
Veda Narayana Perumal Temple is at Nagalapuram, about 70 km southeast of Tirupati.
This is a charming locale with a lake surrounded by gigantic ancient rock formations that are so pictorial. According to legends, there was this gandarva who cursed his wife into becoming a toad, for her laziness. The lady lived in the lake, till one day Sage Agasthya came by with his disciples. With the blessings of the Sage, the lady regained her former glory and returned to the heavens as a gandarva.
The Thumburu Thirtham which is one of the 108 holy thirtams of Tirumala Hills, is open to the public only on the day of Chaitra Pournami that falls once a year. On this day, the gate of the Papa Vinasam dam is opened for people to begin their trek up the forested and rocky hill to the Thumburu Thirtham. Carry water bottles and food for the trek.
Thumburu Thirtham is about 12 km from the Tirumala Srinivasa Temple.
Kalyana Venkateshwara SwamyTemple
Also known as Srinivasa Mangapuram Temple, the beautiful shrine is yet another temple you ought to visit. According to temple history, after the celestial wedding of Srinivasa with Padmavathi, the heavily couple stopped at the ashram of Sage Agasthya, before they returned to Tirumala Hills. Before ascending the hill Lord Srinivasa blessed the region and promised that any pilgrim who is unable to climb up the Tirumala Hill due to age or infirmity, could visit the Kalyana Venkateshwara Swamy Temple and receive his blessings. Military sieges destroyed the original temple around 1324, but it was renovated during the 16th century.
Kalyana Venkateshwara Swamy Temple is in Srinivasa Mangapuram, about 12 km from the Tirupati bus stand. The temple is open from 5.30 am – 7.30 pm.
This is a quaint temple built for Shiva and is said to be one of the oldest temples for Shiva, dating back to 3rd century AD.
The Shiva linga at Parashurameshwara Temple is a beauty, a unique 7 sided monolith with the figure of Parashurama in the front plane holding his axe and a ram’s head, standing on the crouching form of a Yaksha. According to legends, Shiva pacified the warring Parashurama and Brahma who had appeared as a Yaksha, blessing them and merging them within himself. The Temple which is symbolic of the unity of the Trinity of Shiva, Brahma and Vishnu (Parashurama) is a must visit. Check out the Swarnamukhi river on whose banks, sits the most ancient temple and the inscriptions on the inner temple walls that note the various contributions made to the temple by the Pallavas and Cholas and the kings of the Bana Dynasty.
Parashurameshwara Temple is at Gudimallam, about 20 km from Tirupati and 18 km from Renigunta.
Srikalahasti is a panchabhuta stala and is the only temple for the God Vayu. According to legends, Vayu worshipped Shiva here and got blessed to be all pervasive in nature. The temple is called Srikalahasti to remember the supreme devotion and ultimate moksha of a spider (sri), snake (kala) and elephant (hasti).
Srikalahasti temple on the banks of the Swarnamukhi River, was built by King Rajendra Chola, with later additions by the Cholas and kings of the Vijayanagara Empire. The temple has a huge 120 ft gopuram (tower) that is said to have been built by King Krishnadeva Raya in 1516.
Check out the beautiful architecture on the temple walls, the shrine for Paathala Ganapathi and Bharadwaja Thirtham to the east of the temple.
Srikalahasti temple which is about 30 km from Tirupati, is open from 5.30 am – 9.00 pm.
Up the Tirumala Hill, is the ancient rock formation called the Silathoranam or garland of rocks. The arch that had formed out of weathering and erosion probably of the Precambrian era, has a small groomed rocky garden in front, with flowering shrubs and stone benches where you could spend a few hours. Check out the little shops close by. The Silathoranam which is near the Chakra Thirtham and about 1 km away from the Balaji Temple is a protected heritage site.