Tirumala Tirupati Temple is accredited for being the most visited temple of India and second most visited shrine in the world after Vetican.
Positioned on Venkatachala or Ventaka Hill (the seventh peak of the Tirupati Hill) in Chittoor district, Tirupati Temple is also the richest temple of the World. Dedicated to Sri Venketeshwara, the temple lies on the southern side of Swami Pushkarini. Tirupati Balaji Temple is accessible from anywhere in Andhra Pradesh.
Being presiding on the seventh peak of Tirupati Hill, Sri Venkateswara is also known as the Lord of the Seven Hills. The term 'Venkateswara' is more popular in southern part of India.
However, the Lord is called as Lord Balaji too. He is regarded as the form of Lord Vishnu, who is considered as the preserver of this universe. The divine aura and significance of this temple attracts millions of devotees to its entrance, so long queues of pilgrims are not unusual.
‘Sri Venkatachala Mahatrnyam’ contains Puranic lores from the twelve Mahapuranas. The puranic legends say that after the Pralaya kalpa preceding the great Deluge, the Supreme Being Maha Vishnu, revealed Himself in the form of a White Boar, Sweta Varaha, rescued the earth and recreated it and having re-established the universe, He decided to stay on the earth for some time to protect the good and destroy the evil.
Thus God Vishnu revealed Himself earlier. in the previous incarnation as Varahaswami on the bank of the Varaha Tirumala i.e. northern portion of Pushkarini at Tirumala.
This manifestation as the White Boar is enshrined in the Adi Varahaswami temple on the north western bank ofthe Pushkarini at Tirumala_ This temple is believed to be older than the temple of Lord Venkateswara and claims precedence in worship and Nivedana.
There are many more legends about the Venkatachala Hill and Lord Ven kateswara in the Varaha and Bhavishyottara Puranas. The meritorious benefits acquired by a pilgrimage to Venkatachala are mention in the Puranas and Sri Venkateswara is described as the great giver of boons.
All the great dynasties of the southern peninsula had paid their tribute to this ancient shrine. The Pailavas of Kancheepuram (9th century A.D,), Cholas, Pandyas and the kings, chiefs of \/iiayanagar (14th - 15th Century) were ardent ‘devotees of Lord enkateswara and they vied with each other in endowing the temple with rich offerings and benefactions, lt was during the Viayanagar period the glory of Tirumala reached its pinnacle. The statues of Sri Krishna Devaraya, the illustrious king ofthe Vijayanagara empire and his consorts were installed in the temple at the portals, in his own life-time and they can be seen even today.
There are also statues of Achyuta Raya and Venltatapati Raya, Sri Krishna Deva Raya visited the sacred shrine seven times with his consorts during his reign.
Even after the decline of the Vijayanagar dynasty, inspite of the cholas and anarchy that prevailed in the region, the nobles and chieftains from all parts of the country continued paying their homage and gifts to the temple.
The Maratta general, Raghoji Bhonsle, visited the temple and set up a permanent endowment for the conduct of worship in the temple, He also presented valuable jewels to the Deity, including the great emerald which is still preserved in a box named after him. Among the later rulers who have endowed large benefactions are the rulers of Mysore and Gadwal.
After the fall of the Hindu kingdoms, the Muslim rulers of Karnataka and the Britishers stepped into their shoes and many of the temples including the temples of Tirumala and Tirupati came under their supervisory and protective control.
This ancient temple is supposed to have been standing since ages. Comprised of 'Gopuram' (tower), the temple is a fine example of Dravidian style of architecture. There is a gilded cupola (Vimana) by the mane of "the Ananda Nilayam" over the main shrine.
The shrine comprises three enclosures, which are also known as 'Prakarams'. The outmost enclosure comprises the 'Dhvajastambha' (banner post) and the other enclosures have many statues including statues of King Krishnadevraya and Todarmal (minister of Akbar). The striking idol of Sri Venkateswara / Balaji lies in the main sanctum sanctorum of the temple.