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Timurala Venkateswara Temple, or simply known as Tirupati, is the most famous pilgrimage destination of South India, and the most popular one. It is located in the Chittoor district of Andhra Pradesh, about 750KM southwest of Vishakhapatnam, and is also home to other historic and ancient temples. Hence, the town is also referred to as the Spiritual Capital of Andhra Pradesh.
The temple, the highlight of the Tirupati map, is perched on and is surrounded by the Tirumala Hills, which are a part of the Sheshachalam Hills Range. They are also called the Tirupati hills. The hills rise to about 2799ft. above sea level, offering great views of the surrounding landscape of forests and waterfalls.
The hills are distinguished by seven peaks, which are mythological representations of the seven heads of Adisesha. The Tirupati temple sits on the 7th peak – Venkatadri, adjacent to the Swami Pushkarini Lake. Hence it is also called the Temple of the Seven Hills. The entire town, including the temple, covers an area of 26.75 km2 and has a population of 287,035.
The name Tirupati is derived from its Dravidian origin, which translates to “sacred abode”.
History of Tirupati
It is believed that Venkateswara, an avatar of Vishnu appeared on what is presently the temple site, to save mankind from the sufferings of the Kali Yuga. Most ruling dynasties like the Pallavas, Cholas, and the Vijayanagar Kings were devotees of this temple. The first official administration of the temple was set up by Maratha general, Raghoji I Bhosle.
Then during the colonial rule, the British East India Company oversaw the management and handed it to the Mahants of Hathiramji Muth. It was only in 1933, under the TTD Act, the Tirumala Tirupathi Devasthanams trust was formed to manage and conduct all activities in Tirupathi and other temples in Tirumala.
Interesting Facts about Tirupati
One of the most visited pilgrimage sites in India, Tirupati Temple is frequented by nearly 100,000 people daily, who come here for the sole purpose of Tirupati darshan. On special occasions and festival, the number goes up to 500,000, making it the most-visited holy place in the world.
It is also considered to be the richest Hindu temple in the world, with respect to the donations it receives and the wealth accumulated thereof. The reason behind such endowments is associated with a legend in the Puranas.
It is said that Ventakeswara loaned about 11.4 million gold coins from Kuber for his marriage to Padmavathi. With that money, he hired Viswakarma, the divine architect to create the majestic abode. In remembrance, devotees donate money, gold, and other material endowments to the temple, so Venkateshwara can pay back Kuber. It is said that the donations to Tirupati temple go as high as 22.5 million INR per day.
Another interesting aspect of Tirupati is its fundamental belief in equality and prohibits any sacrificial offerings, unlike many other Hindu temples or as in other sects of Hinduism.
The temple structure is a work of architectural wonder. The stone carvings on the facades, interiors and the towers, reflect the finesse and skillfulness of ancient Dravidian architecture and is awe-inspiring. It is constructed in classic Dravidian architectural style and is said to have taken a long period of time to build, starting from 300AM. The temple premise consists of two queue complexes to manage pilgrims, the Tarigonda Vengamamba Annaprasadam complex for free meals for visitors, hair tonsure buildings, and a number of pilgrim lodging sites.
Temples to visit in Tirupati
Sri Venkateswara temple is the highlight of Tirupati tourism. Apart from that there are many other places to visit in Tirupati. Here are some of the best Tirupati places to visit –
Tirupati Balaji Temple
- How to Reach – The temple is located at 40KM from the airport and 27KM from the city bus station. You can book an airport cab or a hire a local taxi to reach.
- Timings- 6.30Am-7.30PM
- Entry Fee- INR 300, free for children under 12 years.
- Time Required- 2-3 Hours
- Tips: Visit during the nine-day celebration of Brahmotsavam for the best experience. You can also book your Tirupati darshan ticket online in advance to avoid waiting in the queue.
- How to Reach – The temple is located at 21KM from the Tirupati temple. You can book a local cab or hire a car to reach.
- Timings- 4:30–5AM, 7:30am–8:30PM
- Entry Fee- Free
- Time Required- 2-3 Hours
- Tips: Visit during the Janmashtami Festival to witness the celebrations.
- How to Reach – The temple is located at 16KM from the Tirupati temple. You can book a local cab to reach.
- Timings- 5AM-4PM, 4.30PM-9PM
- Entry Fee- INR 5
- Time Required- 1-2 Hours
- Tips: Explore the waterfalls and the surrounding forests for treks and hikes.
Sri Padmavathi Ammavari Temple
- How to Reach – The temple is located at 27KM from Tirupati temple. You can book a cab or rent a local car to reach.
- Timings- 7.30AM-6PM
- Entry Fee- INR 20 – 100
- Time Required- 1-2 hours
- Tips: Visit early morning to avoid rush.
Other Tourist Attractions in Tirupati
Surrounded by a lush natural landscape, there are endless options to visit other places near Tirupati. Include these tourist places near Tirupati in your Tirupati sightseeing trip.
- How to Reach – The dam area is located at 24KM from the Tirupati temple. You can book a cab or rent a local car to travel.
- Timings- 8AM-6PM
- Entry Fee- Free
- Time Required- 2-3 Hours
- Tips: Visit during sunrise or sunset hours for great views.
- How to Reach – The waterfalls are located at 76.4KM from Tirupati temple, inside Venkateswara National Park.
- Timings- 6.30AM-7PM
- Entry Fee- Free
- Time Required- 5-6Hours/1 day
- Tips: Visit the national park as a part of your trip, for the complete experience. For treks, visit only in winter.
Chandragiri Palace & Fort
- How to Reach – The fort area is located at 33KM from Tirupati temple. You can book a cab or rent a local car for the day to travel and return.
- Timings- 7.30AM-5.30PM, light and sound show – 6PM onward.
- Entry Fee- INR 25 (adults), INR 10 (children), INR 100 (family), separate entry for the light show.
- Time Required- 4-5 Hours
- Tips: Don’t miss the light and sound show in the evening.
Things & Activities to do in Tirupati
Apart from the temples, which are the most famous places in Tirupati, there are other significant tourist attractions in Tirupati and interesting things to do here.
Trek through the Tirumala Hills. The rolling green hills are surrounded by wooded areas, which make for great day treks, picnics, or simply to spend time in nature.
Visit the Sila Thoranam, a unique natural rock formation, which is considered to be one of its kind in Asia.
Take a trip to the Akasha Ganga Waterfall. The waterbody is a perennial cascade which resembles the upper reaches of the Ganges. It is also a great place for day treks and picnics.
Explore the Sri Venkateshwara Wildlife Sanctuary and plan a jungle safari. It is the most popular wildlife reserve of the region and is known to house many endemic and exotic species.
Spend a day at the Chakra Teertham. The expansive natural water body is guarded by hills and forests, offering great views.
Best time to visit Tirupati
Since the town sits in the middle of the Deccan Plateau, Tirupati weather is like that of a landlocked region. Summers are hot and humid, followed by a wet and misty rainy season, and cool pleasant winter. Hence, it is the colder months when it’s best to visit, when the temperature in Tirupati is the most comfortable for pilgrimage, outdoors adventures, or sightseeing.
Best places to stay in Tirupati
The best and most hotels in Tirupati are concentrated around the temple area. Most temples also provide lodges in Tirupati. Check out these best places to stay in Tirupati.
- Marasa Sarovar Premiere
- Hotel Pai Viceroy
- Serene by Tommaso
- Hotel MountView Comforts
- Hotel Bliss
Best Restaurants in Tirupati
Here are some of the top restaurants in Tirupati to explore on your trip –
- Saarangi Fine Dine Restaurant
- Dojin Smart Restaurant
- Sri Vari Sannidhanam
- Usha Vasavi Restaurant
- Minerva Coffee Shop
How to reach Tirupati
Tirupati is served by three railway stations – Renigunta, Tirupati Main and Anantarajupet. There are several express and superfast trains from all major cities and towns in India to these stations.
Tirupati is well-connected to major cities in South India by NH 71. There are also state-run and private buses from Chennai, Vishakapatnam, Hyderabad, Bangalore, and other cities in Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, and Tamil Nadu. You can also book a cab from any of the major cities to Tirupati.
The pilgrim town is served by Tirupati Internationa Aiport in Renigunta, about 40KM from the temple site. There are regular flights from other major cities and towns in India.