Tirumala Venkateswara Swamy Temple: Popularly called as Tirumala Balaji Temple, Tirumala Venkateswara Temple, Tirupati Temple & Temple of Seven Hills. Sri Venkateswara Swamy vaari temple of Tirumala is one of the Most Richest Pilgrimage Sites of India, managed by Tirumala Tirupathi Devasthanam (TTD Trust). To peep into this historic temple, you need to have lot of patience and interest to look around every corner of the temple complex that speaks garrulous legend. Some of the places inside the temple complex are Snapana Mandapam, Ramar Meda, Sayana Mandapam, Mukha Mandapam, Bangaru Vakili, Dhwajasthambha Mandapam, Nadimi Padi Kavali, Garbha Griha, Mukkoti Pradakshinam, Kalyana Mandapam, Potu, Bangaru Bavi, Ranga Mandapam, Tirumala Raya Mandapam, Vimana Pradakshinam.
Snapana Mandapam: The Snapana Mandapam is also called the Tiruvilankovil. It has four central pillars, which bear sculptures like those of Bala Krishna, Yoga Narasimha and Kaliaya mardhana (Lord Krishna dancing on the Snake by name Kalia)
A particularly impressive sculpture in bas relief is that of Sri Maha Vishnu in the seated pose. He is shown with four arms, the upper arms holding the chakra and the shankha . The Lord s consorts are also shown seated in Sukhasana on either side of him.
Ramar Meda: Ramar Meda, which means the elevated platform for Rama , used to house the icons of Rama, Sita and Lakshmana. These icons have since been moved to the sanctum. The images of Vishvaksena and Garuda are the utsava murthis of their respective sub-shrines.
Sayana Mandapam: The Sayana Mandapam, also called the Ardha Mandapam, is directly in front of the sanctum (in accordance with the Agamas). This is a closest sanctum that the pilgrims can get to. The Mandapam is connected to the sanctum by the threshold called Kulasekhara-padi, after an Alwar who wished to be reborn as the threshold to the Lord s shrine. The main function of this Mandapam is to facilitate the performance of rituals that cannot be accommodated in the sanctum. The Mandapam is so called because it is here that the representative icon of the Lord (Bhoga Srinivasa) is ceremoniously put to bed as the last sequence (Sayanotsava or Ekanta Seva) of daily worship.
Mukha Mandapam: There is a Mukha Mandapam (main hall) or Tirumamani Mandapam, from where the first view of the Lord can be obtained. It was built by Mallanna or Madhavadasa, who was the Chief of Chandragiri in the fifteenth century. The Mandapam is supported by sixteen carved pillars, which introduce a natural division of the area into three walkways. The Mandapam serves as an Asthana Mandapam, where Koluvu Srinivasa holds court after the Thomala Seva in the sanctum, listens to the reading of the almanac, and presides over the giving of daily rations of rice. The recitation of Suprabhatam also takes place here. There are two massive, inscribed bells, which are known as Tirumani or Tirumahamani, which give the Mandapam its name. It is said that these bells were used during the Naivedyam in the sanctum. On the eastern side of the Mandapam is a small shrine dedicated to Garuda. On the northern side is a gangala or large brass vessel covered with a sacred fabric, for depositing all votive (fulfilling vows) offerings. From the Tirumamani Mandapam, you can enter the Bangaru Vakili to reach the inner sanctum sanctorum.
Bangaru Vakili: There are two tall copper images of the dwarapalakas Jaya and Vijaya on either side of the door. The thick wooden door is covered with gilt plates depicting the dasavataram of Sri Maha Vishnu. The doorway is directly in line with the Padi Kavali and the Vendi Vakili. It admits pilgrims to the Snapana Mandapam.
Dhwajasthambha Mandapam: The Dhwajasthambha Mandapam houses the Dhwajastambha (a wooden flagpole encased in gold) and the Bali Peetha (seat for food offering). A peculiar feature of the Mandapam is that it is covered (unlike in other temples) to facilitate the conduct of rituals in all weather conditions. The relative positions of the Dhwajasthambha and the Bali Peetha are in accordance with Vaikhanasa Agamic traditions.
Nadimi Padi Kavali: The Nadimi Padi Kavali or Inner Gopuram is the inner entrance to the temple, which is reached through the Dhvajasthambha Mandapam.
Its wooden doors are covered with silver plates, and therefore it is also referred to as the Vendi Vakili. The doors are smaller than that of the Outer Gopuram. There are numerous inscriptions on the inside walls, the earliest relating to the Pandyan monarch, Jata Varma Sundarapandya, who became king in 1251 AD.
Garbha Griha: The Garbha Griha or sanctum is where the main idol of Lord Sri Venkateswara resides.
The Lord s image is in Sthanaka or standing pose. The Lord is standing on a high lotus pedestal. The height of the Lord has never been recorded, but cannot be less than nine feet from the tip of the mukutam i.e., the crown to the bottom of the lotus pedestal. This can be seen clearly on Friday when abhishekam is done after removing all the gold kavachas (ornaments of this figure). The priest performing the worship, about five feet tall, standing on a stool, two and a half feet high, will not be able to perform abhishekam on the Lord s mukuta unless a priest assists him from behind the idol. Keeping in view this fact that the pedestal on which the Lord stands, is itself below the floor in the sanctum sanctorum, the Lord s figure from tip of the crown to the vase of the lotus pedestal, must measure between nine and ten feet.
According to tradition, the idol of the Lord is manifested in Saligram Sila. The idol of the Lord is liberally anointed frequently with civet or punugu oil; this application of oil makes the idol dark in colour and does not enable us to make an accurate assessment of the material of the image. The material of the idol could be granite or the red igneous rock.
The Lord s majestic beauty is best seen at the time of the Friday Abhishekam when the jewels and other paraphernalia do not cover our view of Him in His celestial glory. It is at this time that we see the eyes of the Lord in the sama drishti pose showering divine grace. The eyes neither look up nor downwards, but straight into devotees eyes. The Lord wears a mukuta or crown which is more than 20 inches high. The Lord s figure is richly adorned with flowing locks of hair or jata juta and some of these locks of curly hair rest on his shoulders.
The nose is delicately carved, neither prominent nor flat, and the mouth of the Lord is also exquisitely shaped. According to Pratima Mana Lakshanam the mouth should be made slightly smiling, pleasant and possessed of all good signs. The chin and the ears are carved proportionately, the ears wearing beautiful ear ornaments.
The chest of the Lord is magnificent in cut and size and should, if measured, be between 36 to 40 inches in width, while the waist would be between 24 to 27 inches. The neck is conch like and the body in the posture of a lion and exquisitely shaped. The belly is also beautifully modeled.
The Lord s image has four arms, the upper two being carved to hold the chakram and the conch (the chakram and the conch are not integral parts of the main idol). The upper right arm holds the Sudarshana Chakra and the upper left arm holds the Panchajanya. The lower right hand of the Lord is in the Varada hasta pose, while the lower left hand is in the Katyavalambita pose. Actually the fingers of the left hand rest on the left thigh, with the thumb of the hand almost parallel to the waist line.
While the idol itself is not exactly standing in the tribhang pose, as in the case of Sri Rama s idol, the near and below the waist has taken a slight tilt to the left and the knees themselves are bent and open slightly outwards, giving the idols peculiar grace and charm.
Mother Laxmi is carved on the right chest of the Lord in the sitting pose and is an integral part of the mula murthi (main idol).
The yajnopavitam and a set of four necklaces or ornaments of the neck can be clearly made out on the idol. The arms have armlets with finger-like projection which appear to be Nagabhushanams or Cobra ornaments. A cobra is also said to be coiled around the Lord s right arm. The figure is depicted as wearing a dhoti from the waist downwards, while the upper portion is not covered by any dress or vastram. The nipples of the Lord on his chest are button like and are prominent. There is however a katibandham or waistband and this waistband is about 2 inches thick.
The legs and feet of the Lord are beautifully shaped, strong and lissome. As indicated earlier, both the knees are bent and open slightly outward, giving the stately figure charm and grace that words cannot adequately describe. The feet are models of perfection and have ornaments near the anklets.
The Lord s image has marks on the shoulders resembling scars made by the constant wearing of the bow and a pack of arrows .
The Image resembles Bodhisattva Image.
During the reign of the Vijayanagara king, Yadava Raya, in the thirteenth century, the Ananda Nilaya Divya Vimana was covered with gilt copper plates and surmounted with a golden vase.
Pilgrims are not allowed to enter the Garbha Gruha (beyond Kurasekara path).
Mukkoti Pradakshinam: Mukkoti Pradakshinam is an enclosed pathway for circumambulation that runs around the sanctum and the porch in front of it.
In Dravidian terminology, mukkoti means the vratham had on this day is equal to three crores time of vrathams followed on any Ekadasi day. The Pradakshinam has walls on three sides only, with the eastern wall missing.
Mukkoti Pradakshinam is opened to pilgrims only twice a year during Mukkoti Ekadasi (in the month of Pausha, Dhanurmasa) and Mukkoti Dwadasi (the following day). The doors are opened on the night of the eleventh day morning (early hours) after Thiruppavai and closed on the night of the twelfth day (called Margali-tiru-dvadasi).
Kalyana Mandapam: Kalyanotsavam or marriage festival is celebrated in the Kalyana Mandapam. The Kalyana Mandapam is architecturally similar to the Tirumala Raya Mandapam. At its western end, is a small mandapam carried on slender cut-stone pillars and surmounted by a vimana. On the South of the shrine is a raised portion called the Yagasala where homams are performed in connection with Brahmotsavam and other festivals.
Potu: The Potu or main kitchen, where the food-offerings for the main temple are prepared, is to the south of the Varadarajaswami shrine. Inside the Potu, there is a small shrine dedicated to Sri Maha Lakshmi, who is also called Potu Amma (lady of the kitchen) or Madapuli Nachiyar. She is identified with Vakulamalika, who was, according to the Puranas, sent by Varahaswami to be the house-keeper of Sri Venkateswara, when he resided on the hill. Vakulamalika is said to have arranged Lord Sri Venkateswara s marriage with Padmavathi. In reality, she is regarded as Sri Maha Lakshmi, and is worshipped as such. She is worshipped during Varalakshmi Vratam, in the month of Sravana. There is a similar icon of Sri Maha Lakshmi in the Padi Potu, another kitchen located in the Sampangi Pradakshinam. Rice Prasadam is prepared in the inner Potu, while other Prasadam like laddus, vadas appams etc., are prepared in the Padipotu.
Bangaru Bavi: In front of the Potu is a well called the Bangaru Bavi. The site of the Bangaru Bavi is as directed in the Vaikhanasa Agamas, and it is constructed according to the Vijayanagara style of architecture.
Ranga Mandapam: Ranga Mandapam, also called the Ranganayakula Mandapam, is located in the south-eastern corner of the Sampangi Pradakshinam. The shrine within it is believed to be the place where the utsava murti of Lord Ranganadha of Srirangam was kept during the 14th century, when Srirangam was occupied by Muslim rulers.
It is said to have been constructed between 1320 and 1360 AD by the Yadava ruler Sri Ranganadha Yadava Raya. It is constructed according to the Vijayanagara style of architecture.
Tirumala Raya Mandapam: Adjoining the Ranga Mandapam on the western side, and facing the Dhvajasthambha Mandapam is a spacious complex of pavilions known as the Tirumala Raya Mandapam or Anna Unjal Mandapam.
It consists of two different levels, the front at a lower level and the rear at a higher. The southern or inner portion of this Mandapam was constructed by Saluva Narasimha in 1473 AD to celebrate a festival for Sri Venkateswara called Anna Unjal Tirunal. This structure was extended to its present size by Araviti Bukkaraya Ramaraja, Sriranga Raja and Tirumala Raja.
It is in this Mandapam, that the utsava murthi Malayappan, holds His annual darbar or Asthanam during the hoisting of the Garudadhwaja on Dhwajastambham to mark the commencement of Brahmotsavam. The prasadam distributed on this occasion is called as Tirumalarayan Pongal.
The Mandapam has a typical complex of pillars in the Vijayanagara style, with a central pillar surrounded by smaller pillars, some of which emit musical notes when struck with a stone. The main pillars have rearing horses with warriors mounted on them. Some of the best sculptures of the temple are found in bold relief in the Mandapam. The bronze statues of Todermallu, his mother Matha Mohana Devi and wife Pitha Bibi, are kept in a corner of the Mandapam.
Vimana Pradakshinam: The Vimana Pradakshinam is the commonly-used circumambulatory pathway around the central shrine. The vimana over the sanctum can be seen from this pathway. Pilgrims who have taken a vow of performing Angapradakshinam perform it in the Vimana Pradakshinam.