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Legends of the Temple at Tirupati: Holiest Shrine in South India

MG is an air warrior and a global traveler who loves to visit and explore new places.

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Introduction

Tirupati is a small village located on the seventh hill of the range known as Seshachalam in the Chittoor district of Andhra Pradesh. It is about 120 km from Gudur in Tamilnadu and is well connected to the rest of India. Tirupati also has an airport which has now been given international status and chartered flights can land there from abroad.

The Hindu ethos of giving alms and donations has led to the temples in India becoming rich. Hundreds and thousands of dollars donated by believers to dear diety or Temple. Tirupati temple is also the richest shrine in India.

The origin of the temple has been traced to 300 AD. This temple was patronized by all the Hindu kings and rulers who held sway in South India. Because of its location up a steep hill, it missed the Muslim marauders who went and destroyed hundreds of Hindu temples like Ayodhya and Somnath. This temple escaped destruction and today is the epitome of the Hindu faith.

I have been to this temple from Gudur, where I had stopped en route from Shillong to Chennai. The temple is located on a steep hill and the engine of the car is apt to get heated up. En route to the temple, several water tanks are constructed. These act as a source of water for a traveler who is driving up the hill.

The temple itself is a marvel of architecture and symbolizes all that is good in Hinduism.

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Artists depiction of Vishnu marrying Padmavati

Artists depiction of Vishnu marrying Padmavati

Legends regarding Tirupati Temple

The temple is dedicated to Lord Vishnu, who is the supreme Hindu deity. The Lord Vishnu is supposed to have descended from Vaikuntha, his celestial abode, and made this place as his residence. The residence god at the temple is Vishnu also known as Lord Venkateshwara. His wife was Lakshmi who he loved very much.

As per legend, Vishnu went in search of his wife Lakshmi, who had left their celestial abode in a huff after a marital tiff. She was upset as the sage Bhrigue a great astrologer had kicked her husband Vishnu in the chest on his heart which was supposed to be the abode of Lakshmi. This had angered Lakshmi, but in humility, Vishnu apologized to Bhrigue and the sage was suitably impressed with the humility shown by Vishnu.

Lakshmi was however not impressed and she left Vishnu. He found her at Karavirapura close to Kolhapur in Maharashtra, but Lakshmi refused to return. Vishnu decided that for some time he would stay on earth till Lakshmi agreed to come back. He chose the Seshachalam range as his abode in Chittoor district and this is supposed to be the origin of this famous temple.

The tale does not end here as the local king accused Vishnu of being a trespasser. Vishnu had only one choice. He could continue to stay at this abode if he married one of the king's daughters. Vishnu saw one of the daughters named Padmavati. He liked her as she looked like Lakshmi and he agreed to the king's proposal to marry Padmavati. Legends tell us that Vishnu fell in love with her beauty but the father demanded a hefty dowry in gold for her in reverse. This was like upping the ante.

Vishnu had no riches or gold and he had no choice but to ask for gold and jewelry from Kubera who was Lakshmi's brother and the lord of wealth. Kubera agreed but made a condition. He asked that Vishnu continues to reside on earth till his debt was fully discharged. Vishnu agreed with this condition.

The marriage was solemnized and Vishnu continued to stay on top of the hill while his wife stayed at the bottom of the hill. This was the custom then, as wives and husbands had separate residences. Pilgrims visit both the places and make offerings to Lord Vishnu. The object is to help the Lord pay off his debts to Kubera. In return, legend tells us that pilgrims who pay and donate to Lord Vishnu are rewarded by him manifold and they become richer. This is the secret of the success of the temple at Tirupati.No statistics are available but thousands of devotees have vouched that they became richer after they had donated to Lord Vishnu.


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The Temple

Visiting the temple and donating money has an uncanny result. It has been seen by hundreds of pilgrims that whatever you donate at the shrine gets multiplied many times over. Many big businessmen donate millions of dollars worth of jewelry and gold. I understand that none has come back unhappy after a donation to the Lord at Tirupati.

The temple is the last word in orderliness and neatness. It is a beautiful temple and is nearly 2000 years old. The architecture is sublime and spells out the story of Hinduism in vibrant carved images. Reaching Tirupati and praying and donating at the temple is an experience that has to be savored. It remains an unforgettable episode in the life of a Hindu. Many western converts to Hinduism also visit this temple and come away in awe at the glory of the temple and the invisible vibrations that emanate from it. There is no doubt that Vishnu showers his blessings for helping him pay his debt to Kubera and the devotee is rewarded with something infinitely more.



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Las Word

The temple is now under the control of the Government of Andhra Pradesh which has set up the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams( TTD). The trust board oversees and manages the operations of the Tirumala Venkateswara Temple. It is operated by a Board of Trustees that has eighteen members. The daily operation and management of TTD is the responsibility of an executive officer who is appointed by the Government of Andhra Pradesh.

The temple attracts approximately 75,000 pilgrims every day. The annual budget, estimated at INR 2500 Crores. The money is used to run charitable trusts. The annual income is estimated at $1.5 billion.

The religious rituals are in the hands of priests from four families from a line of hereditary priests. They are descendants of the first priest Gopinathacharyulu.
Recently a debate has commenced in India as to why the government should control the Hindu temples when they do not control the Muslim mosque, Sikh gurdwara, and Christian churches. This is an example of lopsided secularism practiced by the Congress party in India.


Comments

MG Singh emge (author) from Singapore on January 09, 2021:

Jennifer, sweet of you to have commented. Yes, it's a beautiful shrine and one feels at rest after paying obeisance at this temple.

Jennifer on January 09, 2021:

This is a wonderful article. I have visited Tirupati and came back impressed and enlightened. The shrine also is beautifully managed.

MG Singh emge (author) from Singapore on July 07, 2016:

Thanks skperdon

MG Singh emge (author) from Singapore on July 07, 2016:

Thank you Chitra

skperdon from Canada on July 02, 2016:

Great story!

Chitrangada Sharan from New Delhi, India on May 23, 2016:

Wonderful hub about the Tirupati temple!

I have been there with my family few years back and had an amazing experience.

Thanks for sharing this helpful and informative hub!

MG Singh emge (author) from Singapore on May 17, 2016:

Thank you Oztinato for commenting.

Andrew Petrou from Brisbane on May 17, 2016:

I enjoyed the photos in particular. There is always something very blissful about Hindu religion and it's art and architecture.

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