Tirumala

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Tirumala is a hill town in Chittoor district of Andhra Pradesh, India. Tirumala is considered as the most divine pilgrim center of Hindus. Popularly known as Sri Venkateswara Temple, Tirumala is dedicated for the Supreme God Shrimann Narayana/Maha Vishnu. Sri Rengam, Tirumala and Badrinath are the existing places of Archavatharas of Vishnu. The Tirumala Hill is 3,200 feet (980 m) above sea level. Tirumala comprises seven peaks, representing the seven hoods of Adisesha (thus earning the name Seshachalam). The seven peaks are named as Seshadri, Neeladri, Garudadri, Anjanadri, Vrushabadri, Narayanadri and Venkatadri respectively. The sacred temple of Sri Venkateswara is on the seventh peak, Venkatadri (Venkata Hill), and lies on the southern banks of Sri Swami Pushkarini.

Ancient Tamil king Thondaiman, the ruler of Thondaimandalam (present day Kanchipuram), is believed to have first built the temple after visualizing Lord Vishnu in his dream. He had built the Gopuram and the Prakhara, and made arrangements for regular prayers to be conducted in the temple. Later on, the Chola dynasty vastly improved the temple and provided it with rich endowments. Ancient literature backing to the post-Mauryan and early-Gupta era mentions Tirupati as the Aadhi Varaha Kshetra. The Puranas associate the site with Lord Varaha, one of the Dashavatara of Lord Vishnu. The Varaha shrine holds great importance in Tirupati, and is said to be older than the main sanctum of Venkateswara. The Ranga Mandapam, is to the left side of the temple as one enters. This is where the main deity, Sri Ranganatha Swamy of Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple (Trichy), was protected for almost 60 years during attacks by Malik Kafur in the 14th century.

From Puranas, The Venkatam Hill is believed to be a part of the celestial Mount Meru, brought on to the earth from Vaikuntam by Garuda (Lord’s vehicle). The Hills are said to be a manifestation of Adi Sesha. Many Alvars, Vaishnavacharyas and saints praised the Tirumala Hill with great devotion. Tirumala Nambi, a descendent of the great ascetic Narada, spent his whole life in serving the Lord. Several references to the Tirumala were found in Puranas. Tirumala is one of the 108 sacred shrines of the Sri Vaishanava tradition of Hinduism. According to the Puranas, Lord Vishnu in the Avatar of Swetha Varaham, rose out of Pushkarini as Swayambhuva. This Swetha Varaha Avatharam was installed in a temple situated to the west of Swamy Pushkarni. The great religious leader Ramanujacharya visited this shrine on a pilgrimage and systematized the process of worship of SriVaishnava, and that continues to date.

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