“It’s not the Darshanam you get,it’s the Darshanam he gives”
Its a popular belief that Lord Shri Venkateshwara gives Darshanam to only those who deserves to see him.
The ancient and sacred temple of Sri Lord Venkateswara(a form of Lord Vishnu) is located at Tirumala which is close to Tirupati.
Tirupati consists of seven hills named Seshadri, Neeladri, Garudadri, Anjanadri, Vrushabadri, Narayanadri and Venkatadri.Lord Shri Venkateswara has been presided on Venkatadri and so he is called as Venkateshwara.
Tirupati is one of the most holiest and the most visited place of worship in the world.Its is called as Bhoo Vaikuntam.(Vaikuntam which is home to Lord Vishnu is in heaven and in earth Tirupati itself is the Vaikuntam).
Tirupati is also one of the richest temples in the world and people offer huge money,gold,silver to the Lord.The legend says Lord Venkateshwara borrowed money from Kubera for his marriage expenses and it was agreed that till this Kaliyug ends he has to pay interest to him.So people offer money to Lord Venkateshwara so that he can pay to Kubera!!
Inside the temple :
You would come in normal,peaceful queue till the temple entrance. But once you start entering inside the temple,the crowd increases and you should be really focussed to see the God.Actual idol of Lord Venkateshwara is very far from the place where devotees are allowed to see and you will get only a few seconds get Swamy Darshanam.So don’t be distracted by the people/crowd and loose attention.Slowly move with crowd and always keep eyes on the main shrine.
There are few instances where you will get more than few seconds to get darshanam of Lord Balaji.Like once my dad got as he was the last to one offer money in the “Sri Vaari Hundi” and according to temple rules they gave him extra 10 minutes to see the God.
Points of interest inside the temple :
Priests do offer Tirtham/Holy water inside the temple which you can have.
While coming back you can see Vimana Venkateshwara Swamy which has been carved on the golden gopuram.
There is a separate Hundi inside the temple called “SriVaari Hundi” where people offer money,gold etc.We also have the tradition of putting the wedding cards in that and seek blessings from God.
[Camers are not allowed inside the temple.Picture has been taken by a photographer of timecontent.com]
It seems that during the rule of the Vijayanagar dynasty that the contributions to the temple increased. Sri Krishnadevaraya had statues of himself and his consorts installed at the portals of the temple, and these statues can be seen to this day.
Temple also offers prasadam and laddus for every ticket.So should keep the tickets till you come completely outside the temple.
How to visit the temple?
Every day more than a lakh visit the temple and to regulate the crowd TTD has arranged Queue/Token system to visit the temple.There are free darshanams as well as paid ones.
Sarvadarsanam : No fee and but takes much time.
Seeghra Darshan : fee and minimum waiting is 2-3 hrs.
All the tokens have to bought in advance from TTD counters which are in Tirupati as well as across India.
There is also a online facility available for buying these tokens.
In addition to this,TTD also offers different sevas to Lord Venkateshwara.Booking these sevas online can avoid waiting hours as well as standing in the long queues.Personally I liked the Nijapaada Darshanam Seva which happens early in the morning when crowd would be very less.The first photo of Lord Venkateshwara is exactly what we can see in Nijapaad Darshanam Seva.
In online site you cal also find accomodation facilities which are provided by TTD.The rooms are maintained well and cost is minimum compared to other lodges in Tirupati.
There are buses for every 15 minutes from Tirupati to Tirumala.People go by their own private vehicles and some people prefer to walk up to the hills.TTD Devsthanam has constructed a footpath from Alipiri to Tirumala for pilgrims who wants to walk. It takes approximately 5 and a half hours to walk up the hill.Best time is to start early in the morning.I believe there is a separate queue for these pilgrims for darshnam.
Important temples to visit in Tirumala :
Swami Pushkarini (Holy water Pond)
A temple tank from where water would be used for Abishekam and othere temple rituals is called as Pushkarini.
Devotees take a dip in the sacred waters of these tanks before offering prayers at the Temples. Any Pushkarini is said to have healing and purifying powers.The Pushkarini at Tirumala is located very close to Sri Venkateshwara Swamy Temple and it is called as Swami Pushkarini. Bathing at Swami Pushkarini is considered equivalent to bathing in the holy River Ganga. It is said that this Pushkarini was originally based in Vaikuntam – the abode of Sri Vishnu and it was brought down to earth by Garuda and set here for Sri Venkateshwara Swamy.
Sri Varahaswami Temple
Originally Tirumala belonged to Sri Varaha Swamy from whom Venkateshwara took permission to reside.So its a practice here that devotees first see Shri Lord Varahaswamy and then Venkateshwara.The temple is on the banks of Pushkarini.
Sri Vaari Paadam
Sri Vaari Padam is a place on the hills where you can see the feet of Lord Shri Venkateshwara.Its said that the Lord descended on the earth first at this place.There is no bus service to reach this place.You have to get some private jeeps/cars.
Temples to visit in Tirupati
Sri Padmavathi Temple,Tiruchanoor
Tiruchanoor, also known as Alamelumangapuram, is about 5 km from Tirupati. The temple of Sri Padmavathi Devi, the consort of Lord Sri Venkateswara is situated here. It is said that a visit to Tirumala is fruitful only after visiting the Sri Padmavathi Devi temple.No token is required to enter the temple here.But there are tickets for Normal Queue and Fast Queue.Cell phones/Cameras are not allowed inside.
Sri Kapileswaraswami Temple, Tirupati
Sri Kapileswaraswami Temple is the only temple dedicated to Lord Siva in Tirupati.It is situated about 3 km to the north of Tirupati, at the foot of the Tirumala Hills. The sacred waterfall called Kapila Teertham (also known as Alwar Teertham) is located here.
Sri Govindarajaswami Temple
Sri Govindarajaswami Temple is one of the most important temples in Tirupati.In this temple there are two main shrines. In the northern shrine is ‘Sri Govindaraja’, who is Lord Vishnu lying on ‘Ananta’. He is considered to be Lord Venkateswara’s brother. The other main shrine has Deities of ‘Sri Parthasarathi’ (Krishna as the charioteer of Arjuna), ‘Rukmini’ and ‘Satyabhama’ (Krishna’s wives).
Sri Kalyana Venkateswaraswami Temple
12-km to the west of Tirupati at Srinivasa Mangapuram one can find Sri Kalyana Venkateswaraswami temple, where it is believed that Lord Venkateswara stayed here after his marriage with Sri Padmavati Devi, before proceeding to Tirumala.
Located in the centre of the Tirupati town; the presiding deities over here are Sita, Rama and Lakshmana.
You can hire an auto and visit all these temples in a single day.TTD also provides the tour packages for visiting all these temples.
All the archakas in these temples bless us stating that “Punar darshana praptirastu” meaning we should be blessed to have darshan of Lord Venkateshwara/Perumal again and again.Very True.
Some useful links :
Online seva booking : http://www.ttdsevaonline.com/
Accomodation in mutts : http://sribalaji.com/acco-triumala.htm
TTD Counters in India : http://www.tirumala.org/e_darshancounters.htm
I have shared some pictures of Srinivasa Kalyanam performed at home.
What is it ?
Srinivasa Kalyanam or Venkatesha Kalyanam is the divine wedding of Lord Sri Venkateshwara.
Why is it performed?
Srinivasa Kalyanam is the symbolic celestial wedding of Sri Venkateswara with his two consorts Padmavati and Laxmi.In general Kalyanam means auspicious. When it is the Kalyana of the Supreme Lord Srinivasa,the auspiciousness will be in abundance and it will be for the well being of the whole family.
How is it performed?
Lord Balaji is the bridegroom while his two consorts Sridevi and Bhoodevi are the brides in this celestial wedding. The rituals followed are exactly same to the one carried out during Hindu marriages.A purohit conducts the marriage and an archaka is consecrated to perform other rituals on behalf of the bridegroom.
Initially the abhishekam or holy bath is done to all the idols with milk,coconut water and banana.Then all the idols are nicely dressed. Sri Venkateshwara with Dhoti and brides SriDevi,Bhoo Devi with sarees.Then brides and bridegrooms are tied with Kankanam [a holy thread colored in yellow].The idols of the Lord and his brides face each other with a screen in between. In the auspicious time,they would tie the Mangalyam to the brides SriDevi and BhooDevi.
Religious people believe that performing a kalyanotsavam [marriage] or participation in marriage is very auspicious.The kankanam/holy thread tied to the lord would be given to unmarried girls in the family so that they will get a nice groom soon.
TTD [Tirumala Tirupati Devastanams] conducts Kalyanotsavam in various locations around the world and this is a small version of it.