Tirupati – synonymous with the Venkateswara Swamy temple dedicated to Lord Venkateswara is among the most visited temples of India. The temple of Lord Venkateswara on the top of Tirumala Hills at a distance of about 20 km north west of Tirupati, is visited by 30 to 40 million people annually. Though Tirupati is basically a holy temple town and an important destination for Hindu pilgrims, yet the natural beauty of the place makes it an attractive and popular tourist destination.
Where is Tirupati
The cultural city of Tirupati is in the Chittoor district of Andhra Pradesh. The city located at the foothills of the Eastern Ghats is famous throughout the world for being the abode of Lord Venkateswara.
The ancient city of Tirupati in the midst of the Seshachalam Hills finds mention even in the Puranas. Apart from the several sacred shrines and ancient temples, Tirupati boasts of a rich vibrant culture and a myriad of cuisines to relish. For shopaholics, this traditional city offers various handicrafts like woodcarving and kalamkari crafts, whitewood toys, traditional Tanjore style gold leaf paintings, and books and periodicals on Hindu religious treatises.
Nestled in the verdant Eastern Ghats – a mountain range that runs along south-eastern India – the region is a treasure-house of ancient temples, waterfalls and other places of interest.
The holy city of Tirupati draws tourists and pilgrims alike who flock to the Lord Venkateswara Temple, located at the hilltop of the Tirumala hills. Several other temples dot the town, and the lush countryside contains numerous waterfalls. Tirupati is also home to a unique, naturally-occurring pre-Jurassic stone arch that is 25 feet long and 10 feet high, one of only three of these kinds of geological features in the world.
As said in the beginning, Tirupati is so much identical with the Lord Venkateswara Temple that the holy shrine is often referred as Tirupati Temple. Though people visits Tirupati chiefly to offer prayers in the holy shrine of Lord Venkateswara, but there are a few places around Tirupati which are worth visiting.
Lord Venkateswara Temple
The ancient and sacred temple of Sri Venkateswara is located on the seventh peak, Venkatachala (Venkata Hill) of the Tirumala Hill that comprises seven peaks, representing the seven heads of Adisesha. The seven peaks are called Seshadri, Neeladri, Garudadri, Anjanadri, Vrushabhadri, Narayanadri and Venkatadri. The temple is on Venkatadri (also known as Venkatachala or Venkata Hill).
The presiding deity of the temple is Lord Venkateswara, an incarnation of lord Vishnu. Venkateswara is known by other names: Balaji, Govinda, and Srinivasa. Known for its elaborate Dravidian style, the temple has a mesmerizing idol of the Lord, completely made out of pure gold and ornamented with a magnificent crown.
Millions come to Tirumala at an altitude of 3200 ft., from all over the world for visual delight of the divine and charismatic vision of Lord Venkateswara. One glimpse of the majestic idol in Srivari temple is said to provide relief and solace to all devotees. There are elaborate arrangements of darshan tickets for the affluent and free darshan for poor. While Sarvadarshan is the order of the day and availed by lakhs, for those who are too busy to afford time in the long standing queues, there is the option of Sheegra Darshan priced at Rs.300 per head.
For an awesome virtual tour of the Lord Venkateswara Temple of Tirumala-Tirupati, click HERE.
Sri Kapileswaraswami Temple
In the midst of all the Vaishnava temples in Tirupati, Sri Kapileswaraswami Temple situated at about 3 km to the north of Tirupati is the only temple dedicated to Lord Siva. Apart from its significance as a pilgrimage destination, the attractive natural setting of the Kapileswaraswami Temple makes it all the more popular among tourist and visitors to this holy temple town of Tirupati.
A natural waterfall adjacent to the temple, known as Kapila Teertham or Alwar Teertham is considered to be extremely sacred by holy travellers.
Agastya Swamy Temple
This is another important sightseeing spot of Tirupati. The Agastyaswamy Temple is situated at the confluence of three rivers, namely Swarnamukhi, Bhima and Kalyan, at a distance of about 12 Km from Tirupati. Agastya Muni, a revered Vedic sage, is one of the Saptarishis (“seven sages”) who are eulogized in the Vedas. Agastya is also another name of Lord Shiva.
The Agastya Swamy temple has three entrances adorned with beautiful sculptures that lead to the main hall inside. Within the temple complex is a separate shrine for Goddess Parvati. There is also a small shrine dedicated to Lord Rama, Sita, Lakshmana and Anjaneya near the adjacent water tank. Just across the the Agastya Swamy Temple and seemingly floating in the middle of the river (on a tiny island), is a mandapam on which the statues of Balaji, Ayyappa and Ganapati have been installed in recent times.
Govindaraja Swamy Temple
Known to be the temple dedicated to the brother of Lord Venkateswara, the Govindaraja Swamy temple situated within 2 Km from the Tirupati railway station is another important of Tirupati sightseeing spots. The imposing seven-storied Gopuram (elaborately carved entrance gateway) of the temple can be seen from a long distance.
The temple’s courtyard is quite spacious and also observed are stone halls which are built centuries ago. They are beautiful carved and will definitely attract any ones attention. The huge doors at the entrance of the temple stand to the grandeur and architecture excellence carried out in the olden times. There also other shrines within the temple premises that are abode to Sri Venkateshwara, Sri Parthasarathi and Sri Andal. The principal deity is an impressive Sayanamurti (the Lord in a sleeping posture).
Since it is the temple of Lord Balaji’s brother, the festivals celebrated here are similar to the ones celebrated in Lord Balaji’s temple.
Sri Kodandarama Swami Temple
Situated in the middle of Tirupati Town, within a distance of about a kilometer from the Tirupati railway station, Kodandarama Swami temple is another popular sightseeing spot of Tirupati. Dedicated to Lord Rama, the Sri Kodandaramaswami Temple, built during the 10th century AD stands as a marvelous piece of work by the Chola kings.
According to Varaha Purana, while returning from Lanka, Sri Rama, Lakshmana and Sita camped at Tirupati along with Lakshmana for a while. The temple commemorates Sri Rama’s visit to Tirupati.
Sri Kodandaramaswami temple stands in the centre of a rectangular courtyard, facing west. The entrance is in the west and is adorned by a Gopuram. The temple has a Maha Mandapam and a mukha-mandapam. The Maha Mandapam consists of five pillars in four rows each with two rectangular blocks and two octagonal shafts in between. These pillars have fine sculptures of Maha Laxmi, Lord Vishnu, Lord Krishna, Parasurama and Venugopala, all reflecting the Vijayanagara style of architecture. On the wall, on either side of entrance, leading into the interior of the Maha Mandapam, there is an emblem of the Vijayanagara.
The festivals of Ugadi and Sri Ramanavami are celebrated in this temple on a grand scale.
Tiruchanur, also known as Alamelu Mangapuram is another important Tirupati sightseeing destination. Situated at about 5 Km from Tirupati, it is the place where the temple of Sri Padmavathi Devi or Goddess Lakshmi, the consort of Lord Sri Venkateswara is situated. It is believed that a visit to Tirupati is fruitful and complete only after visiting to the Sri Padmavathi Devi temple.
This temple of Sri Padmavathi Devi had been built around the southern banks of Swarnamukhi Pushkarini (pond) in Vijaynagara style. Like any other Southern temple constructions, it has a Gopuram, a Mandapam, and a Garbalayam. There are 3 sub temples housed in the premises are: Sri KrishnaswamyTemple, Sri Sundararaja Temple and Sri
Suryanarayana Swamivari Temple.
At Trichanur, Devi is worshiped as the main deity. Sitting in padmasana, She is represented with four hands, two of them each holding a lotus and the front two hands showing Abhaya and Varada mudras protecting the devotees and assuring them to fulfill their desires.
If you think that Tirupati is just a temple town, then probably you have not heard about Sila Thoranam about 1 Km from the Lord Venkateswara temple. This geological wonder has in recent time garnered a lot of interest and is now a popular Tirupati sightseeing destination.
Silathoranam is a natural rock formation in the form of an arch which is 26.2 ft. in length and 9.8 ft. in height. The geological stone arch is one among the world’s three naturally formed arches of stone and is dated back to 150 crore years from now, probably to the days of evolution of life on earth. There are believed to be only two similar formations in the world – the Rainbow Arch Bridge of Utah in the USA (which is no longer any more because of its recent collapse in the year 2008) and the arch that cuts through the headland of the Dalradian Quartzite in the UK.
The place have now been converted into a rocky garden, full of flowers, with benches and more for the weary tourists to rest. There are birds in cages for kids to amuse themselves with, and lots of shops selling wooden articles for elders.
There are quite a number of other temples and places of interest in and around Tirupati that are worthy of visits as well. To know about all the Tirupati temples click HERE.
How to reach Tirupati?
The Renigunta Airport of Andhra Pradesh at a distance of about 15 km is the nearest airport of Tirupati. Flights from Chennai, Hyderabad and Bangalore operate on all days on a regular basis. For international tourists to Tirupati, Chennai is the nearest international airport. One can hire car and taxi from the airport to reach Tirupati.
Tirupati railway station is well connected to metro cities like Chennai, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Delhi, Mumbai, Vishakhapatnam and Madurai. Travelers from other cities can get to Renigunta railway station and then reach the city as well.
It takes just 5 hours to reach Tirupati station from Chennai and Bangalore railway stations. Two intercity trains operate between Chennai and Tirupati on all days.
Tirupati is well connected to cities like Chennai, Hyderabad, Bangalore, Chittoor and Vijayawada. National Highway NH 205 passes through Renigunta and hence is accessible from Chennai (3-4 hrs), Bangalore (5 hours) and Hyderabad (10-12 hours). APSRTC buses connect all towns in Andhra Pradesh with Tirupati. Tamil Nadu public transport corporation buses connect many cities in the state with Tirupati. KSRTC buses connect many cities in Karnataka with this holy city.
Where to Stay at Tirupati?
Tirupati being a very popular pilgrim destination is visited by a large number of devotees round the year. It is said that when you are in the abode of the Lord don’t worry about finding a suitable accommodation to suit your need.
The Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams (TTD) – an independent trust that manages the Venkateswara Temple ensures that comfortable accommodation is provided to pilgrims at a reasonable cost. It has constructed over 5000 cottages, guest houses and choultries both at Tirupati and Tirumala. TTD even provides accommodation free of cost to pilgrims who cannot afford to pay for their stay in Tirupati and Tirumala. Further, to ease the demand for accommodation, TTD has built Public Amenities Complexes at both Tirupati and Tirumala, which provide dormitory-type accommodation with lockers, free of cost.
To know about TTD provided free and paid accommodation facilities at Tirupati and Tirumala, click HERE.
Besides the staying facilities provided by TTD, there are numerous hotels at Titupati and Tirumala to suit your budget. An accont of only a few are given below:
Located in the heart of Tirupati Town, Hotel Bliss is a three star hotel that is known to be one of the best hotels of Tirupati. With 117 well furnished rooms and having state-of-the-art modern amenities, Hotel Bliss is a place where you can experience Indian tradition without compromising on comfort.
To know more about this hotel, click HERE. You can also call the hotel phone number at: +91 877 2237773
This 3 star hotel with 58 well-appointed rooms is another popular and reputed hotel of Tirupati. Kalyan Residency is a fully centralized air-condition hotel offers good quality accommodation with an added touch of a natural relaxing atmosphere and a panoramic view of Tirumala Hills.
To know more about this hotel, click HERE. You can also call the hotel phone number at: +91-877-2259780 / +91-877-5569080 / 098481 59700
Fortune Select Grand Ridge
This 138-roomed five star hotel ranks among the best of Tirupati hotels. Situated at a distance of 1.5 Km from the Tirupati city center at the intersection of by-pass road and Tiruchanoor road, Hotel Fortune Select Grand Ridge is set in a quiet 17 acre park like setting. This hotel offers a variety of rooms to fit your budget.
To know more about this hotel, click HERE. You can also call the hotel phone number at: 0877-222 1818
Sri Sai Residency
This is one of the most popular of Tirupati hotels for budget travellers. Located close to the Tirupati railway station, Sri Sai Residency offers visitors to Tirupati an ideal and convenient location as well as comfortable accommodation.
To know more about this hotel, click HERE. You can also call the hotel phone number at: 0877 – 2222276, 2222277, 2222278, 2222279 / 090524 20885.
This 3-star accommodation near the famous Kapileswara Temple at a distance of about 2 Km from Tirupati Railway Station is another prime Tirupati hotel. With an array of different kinds of rooms, PVR Residency suits the budget of every traveller.
To know more about this hotel, click HERE. You can also call the hotel phone number at: +91 8772282289 / +91 9494930404
About the Author: Hi! friends, travelling is my passion and my only hobby. High mountains to deep seas, lush green forests to barren deserts, holy places to sites of historical importance, - every beautiful place attracts me the same way. I want everyone to feel the same and so through my writing I intend to take you all to a virtual trip to all those lovely places that I have visited.