All About Tirupati Balaji•
Posted on March 27 2023
The Tirupati Balaji temple in Chittoor district in Andhra Pradesh, South India is one of the major temples dedicated to Lord Vishnu and an important shrine for followers of the Vaishnanvism faith. It is widely believed that the lord has made this temple His abode during the Kali Yuga. Interestingly, this is the richest and most frequent temple in India. Hence, the shrine is also aptly called Bhuloka Vaikuntam.
The idol here is to be swayambhu or self-manifested and is known as Lord Venkateshwara or Balaji by his devotees. The sanctum sanctorum where the idol is located is also known as Ananda Nilayam. The deity is decorated grandly with ornaments and flowers daily.
Story of Tirupati Balaji
The legend goes that once Sage Brighu decided to assess the Trinity to assess who among them was the greatest. He met Lord Shiva and Lord Brahma but they ignored Him and so he was not convinced that they could be the greatest. When He reached Vaikuntam, he found the lord relaxing with His consort, Goddess Lakshmi resting on His chest. The sight angered the sage and he kicked Vishnu on His chest. This offended Lakshmi and she left Vaikuntam for earth.
Lord Vishnu was upset and He followed her to earth only to know that she had taken rebirth as Padmavati to a king. Vishnu decided to remain on earth as Venkateshwara and started meditating inside an anthill.
Shiva and Brahma came down to earth in search for Vishnu in the form of a cow and calf and found out Vishnu’s whereabouts. Lord Shiva started pouring divine milk into the anthill every day to feed the lord. Eventually, they got Venkateshwara and Padmavati to meet and the deities requested the king for his daughter’s hand to marry the lord and the king agreed.
Venkateshwara was elated and He borrowed a huge amount of money from Lord Kubera to conduct the wedding on a grand scale. It is believed that He is still repaying the debt to Kubera in instalments. There is a belief that the lord also uses His contributions from His devotees to clear off His debts.
Some Interesting Facts
• It is a customary practice for people to donate their hair at the shrine to the lord. There are various facilities around the temple to do this. Devotees shave their heads at these facilities before entering the premises for their darshan. This is usually done after having their desires fulfilled.
• Flowers, milk, butter milk, holy leaves and clarified butter are used for ritual worship of the deity. The interesting fact is that these items are sourced from a village that is about twenty kilometres from Tirupati. This village has not been visited from anyone outside to date and the villagers have also not seen any outsiders.
• The Lord Balaji idol in the sanctum sanctorum appears to be located in the middle. However, in reality, this is not so. The idol is actually positioned a little towards the right of the sanctum sanctorum.
• The hair on the idol is actual hair and always remains smooth, silky and free of tangles. It is said that once the lord lost His hair in a mishap and a Gandharva princess called Neela Devi who noted this cut a few locks of her own hair and offered it to the lord and requested the deity humbly to accept it, which He gladly did.
• One can hear the loud and clear sound of sea waves if one rests one’s ear behind the deity’s image inside the shrine. This is truly a wonder, especially as there is no sea or ocean nearby.
• Once a king imposed a death sentence on twelve people who committed a crime. These people were hung to death and their bodies were hung from the walls of the temple. It is believed that this led to the temple closure for twelve years after which the idol came to life and made an appearance.
• The back of the idol is moist all the time. Although the priests try their best to keep it dry every time, it continues to remain wet.
• Raw camphor usually tends to cause cracks on any stone on which it is applied. Surprisingly, the idol of Lord Balaji shows high resistance to this. The idol is smeared with raw camphor almost all the time and yet, no fissures, cracks or marks have appeared on it to date.
• The idol has a very high temperature of 110°F although the surroundings are quite cool because of the altitude the temple is located. The temple priests have found that the idol starts sweating profusely every morning after the abhishekam and has to be wiped with a silk cloth. Similarly, the idol is very warm every Thursday when the jewels are taken off to give it a holy bath.
• Goddess Lakshmi is believed to reside in the heart of Lord Balaji. Every Thursday, the idol is decorated with white sandalwood paste for the NjiaRoopa darshanam. After this, when the paste is removed, one can see an imprint of the goddess on the idol.
• The lamp before the idol remains lit all the time throughout the day. There is no information to date when the lamp was lit for the first time but the fact remains that it has been lit for over a thousand years and has never been extinguished so far.
• Tirumala Hills, the hills on which the shrine is located, has an entrance that features a rock like formation which looks like a serpent hood. Also, one of the hills looks like the face of the lord. It appears as if you can actually see the face of the sleeping lord.
• There is a stick in standing position on the right door of the temple. It is believed that the stick was used by Ananthalwar to beat the lord when He was a child. Once, the stick hit the deity on His chin and He got hurt as blood started oozing out. Ever since then, sandalwood has been applied on the chin of the deity to heal the wound.
The construction of the Tirupati Balaji temple began a long time ago as early as 300 CE. Over the years, several rulers have made their fair shares of contribution towards the development of the shrine. The shrine is well-known for its ladoo prasad that is offered to the lord and distributed among His devotees. The temple attracts millions of devotees every year and its seven-storey gopuram is an architectural delight with its intricate carvings.
The temple is well-connected from the major towns and cities in the country by both rail and road. The entire route from Tirupati to the Tirumala Hills have been laid with metal pathways and roads for pedestrians and those travelling by road. The temple is one of the most popular pilgrimage sites in the country.
Many devotees undertake climbing the hills to Tirumala for the purpose of fulfilling a vow. The ascend often starts from Alipari in Tirupati and proceeds to the summit of Tirumala by climbing well-laid stone steps. The whole distance is around nine kilometres and there are more than 3,550 steps to be climbed. There is also a shorter route by walk from Srivari Mettu spanning a total of 2,388 steps.
Written by - Deepthi K