Sunday, September 20, 2009

TIRUMALA – The Abode of Lord Venkateswara

Tirupati Tirumala Devasthanam, is one of the most popular Hindu shrine in the country. The temple dedicated to Lord Venkateshwara at Tirumala is perched at height of 874 metres above mean sea level and 15 km. North-west of Tirupati, the temple town is located at the foot of the seven hills of the Eastern Ghats in Chittoor district of Andhra Pradesh. The 12th century Vaishnavite shrine is one of the richest shrine of the world, with annual income of the temple being more than two billion rupees. Often referred as the ‘Vatican of the East’, the size of the visiting pilgrims and the wealth the temple town offers in terms of religious, cultural and natural splendour, make it an unsurpassed pilgrimage site.

HISTORY: The exact period in which the temple was founded is not known, and tradition has it that the temple is Swayambhustala, meaning, it came into existence on its own without anyone making it. As per folk legends there was a huge anthill at Tirupati. A farmer heard a voice from the heavens asking him to feed the ants. By chance the local king heard the voice and began supplying milk for the ants, himself. His compassion resulted in the liquid uncovering a magnificent idol of Lord Venkateshwara hidden beneath the anthill. According to some evidences the history of the temple dates back to almost 2,000 years.

In the ancient times a queen called Samavai belonging to Pallava dynasty (614 AD.) is said to have consecrated the first silver image here. The temple is also mentioned in the Sangam poetry (500 BC. – 2000 AD.). Numerous temple inscriptions from the 9th century record details of the temple and contributions made by both Pallavas and Chola Kings. It is believed tat originally there was only one shrine at Tirumalai. When the Vaishnavite saint, Ramanuja, visited Andhra in the 12th century, the temple at Tirupathi was built. The Chola period saw the temple complex prospered and expanded. In 1517, Krishnadevaraya, on one of his many visits to the temple, donated gold and jewels enabling the Vimana (inner shrine) roofing to be gilded. The Maratha general Raghoji Bhonsle visited the temple and set up a permanent administration for the conduct of worship in the temple. Among the later rulers who endowed large benefaction were the rulers who endowed large benefaction were the rulers of Mysore and Gadwal.

In 1843 with the coming of the East India Company, the administration of the Shri Venkateshwara temple and a number of shrines was entrusted to Seva Dossji of the Hathiramji Mutt at Tirumala as Vicaranakarta for nearly a century, till 1933 when the temple was under the administrative charge of the mahants. The Madras legislature passed a special act in 1933 whereby the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam (TTD) committee was invested with powers of administration and control through a commissioner appointed by Govt. of Madras. A Ryot Advisory Council was formulated for the management of the estates of the TTD, this was assisted by Religious Advisory Council with regard to religious matters.

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