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The temple of Lord Venkateswara, an incarnation of Lord Vishnu at Tirupati is perhaps one of the most revered ones by Hindus. Considered to be the bestower of boons, a visit to the temple of Lord Venkateswara or Balaji as he is also referred to is held in unique sanctity. Reputed to be among the richest shrines in the world, Tirupati temple is the busiest religious center, after the Vatican. Tirupati can be easily reached from Chennai, Hyderabad and Bangalore.

Tirupati means 'Lord of Lakshmi' as it indicates the divine abode of the Lord. Ancient Indian dynasties, from the Cholas and Pallavas to the Pandyas and kings of Vijaynagar have paid obeisance at the temple located atop the hill at Tirumala, located nearly 3200 ft above sea level. In 1933, the administration of the Tirupati temple was entrusted to the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam (TTD). This TTD committee maintains twelve temples and other shrines in the locality. Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams (TTD) maintains twelve temples and their sub-shrines in the Tirumala-Tirupati area.

Tirupati festivals

This Vaishnavite shrine is agog with excitement and activity during festivals such as Vaikunta Ekadasi, Rama Navami and Brahmotsavam festival. The Brahmotsavam festival is said to be indicate Brahma's ceremonial function to honor Lord Venkateswara. The idol is taken out on processions on different vehicles on different days. The black idol of Lord Balaji is adorned with gold ornaments and precious stones.

Suprabhatam is the early morning hymn to awaken Lord Balaji. Devotees throng at daybreak to witness this ceremony. Kalyanotsavam or marriage of the Gods is conducted in a manner similar to most Hindu marriages.

Tirupati darshan

Sarvadarsanam is available on all days for nearly 18 hours. Devotees seeking darshan can minimize waiting time by opting for the token system. Tokens can be collected at different places and details can be checked on the official site of the TTD - There is a special darshan for the aged and physically challenged person through the main temple entrance.

Pious devotees climb the 7 small hills that lead to the Tirupati temple. Many offer their hair as a sacrifice or part of a vow. Prominent among other temples to visit around Tirupati are the Padmavathi Devi temple and Sri Govindarajaswami Temple. It is believed that a visit to Tirupati is complete only after seeking the blessings of Sri Padmavathi Devi, consort of Lord Venkateswara.

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