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THE DIVINE STRUCTURE OF THE TIRUMALA MAIN TEMPLE: Lord Sri Venkateswara, also known as Srinivasa, Balaji, and Ve?ka?achalapati, made Tirumala his abode five thousand years ago. Even before him, it was Lord Varahaswami who had made Tirumala his abode. Since then, many devotees have continued to construct grand entrances on the ramparts of the temple over generations. The temple complex is spread over 16.2 acres of land.
SRI BHU VARAHA SWAMI TEMPLE: In Tirumala, the East facing Sri Varahaswami temple is located in the North West corner of the temple tank – Swami Pushkarini. As per the temple legend, Lord Srinivasa sought a gift of land from Sri Varahaswami, which he readily granted.In return, Srinivasa provided him with an agreement deed assuring that he would be paid the first darshan, worship and offerings by all the devotees visiting the temple. This tradition is in practise to this day at Tirumala and Lord Varahaswami continues to receive the age old traditional worship. Even today, all offerings are first made to Lord Varahaswami and then to Lord Sri Venkateswara.
MAHA DWARAM: The height of the main entrance has been increased periodically since 13th century. Its present height is fifty feet. This entrance has other names such as ‘Padivaakili’ and ‘Simhadwaram’.In Tamil it is called ‘Periya Thiruvasal’. On either side of this main entrance there are two feet high statues made of alloy metal (Pancha loha). They are Sankanidhi and Padmanidhi who are the guardians of ‘Navanidhi’, the treasure of Lord Sri Venkateswara.The Maha Dwaram comprises three consecutive entrances – the first is a brass one, while the second is a silver one. The third entrance is a golden one.
SHANKHANIDHI – PADMANIDHI: These are the two angels guarding the wealth and treasure of Lord Sri Venkateswara. As per the tradition these are installed at the third entrance of the temple. One enters the holy shrine after saluting the first protection threshold – Sankha Nidhi and Padma Nidhi. According to history, these statues were consecrated by Vijayanagara emperor Achyutha Rayalu, the younger brother of Sri Krishna Deva Rayalu.
ADDALA MANDAPAM: Twelve feet to the north of Sri Krishnadevarayalu Mandapam, there is a glass porch. Every day at 2 p.m., a service called”Dolotsavam” is performed for the Lord in this glass porch. Historical evidence proves that this seva programme began to be performed in 1831.RANGANAYAKA MANDAPAMJust opposite to the glass porch, there is another high rise mandapam called Ranganayakula Mandapam. Due to the Muslim invasions between 1320 and 1369 A.D., the idols of Lord Ranganadha of Srirangapatnam were shifted to Tirumala for safe keeping. Daily prayers and poojas were offered to him in this Mandapam. After the cessation of the Muslim invasions, these statues were once again shifted back to Srirangam. Yet this place has retained the name of Ranganayakula Mandapam to this day.This mandapam is said to have been built by the king of Tirupathi, named Ranganadha Yadava Rayalu. It is in this mandapam that Kalyanothsavams were performed for the Lord. However, due to the increase in pilgrim rush, currently daily Kalyanothsavams are performed in Sampangi Pradakshinam.
DWAJASTHAMBHA MANDAPAM: Dwajasthambham, -the golden flagstaff is located in the middle of a twenty-pillared square pavilion. To the east of the flagstaff there is an altar and to the northeast, there is granite stone called ‘Kshetrapalakasila’. This pavilion is said to have been constructed in the fifteenth century.During Brahmotsavams, a flag with Garuda’s imprint is hoisted on this flagstaff for extending an invitation to gods and goddesses (Yaksha, Kinnera and Gandharva), to attend this festival. Those wishing to take pooja material or other things into the sanctum, have to perform circumambulation along dwajasthamba including the Lord whenever he is taken outside or returned to the main temple.
BALI PEETAM (ALTAR): Adjoining the flagstaff is the Bali Peetam or altar. After offering Naivedyam to the Lord and other deities and after exiting through the silver gate, the Prasadam is kept on this altar. It is believed that this food offering is accepted by deities, the angles and the elemental forces.
FOUR PILLAR MANDAPAM: Four pavilions in the four corners of ‘Sampangi Pradakshinam’ were built by Saluva Narasimha Raya in 1470 A.D. in the names of himself, his wife and his two sons.KALYANOTSAVA MANDAPAMEarlier all wedding festivities of the Lord were celebrated at the pavilion in the ‘Vimana Pradakshinam’. With the increase in the number of the devotees attending the events, these festivities started being held for some time in Ranganayaka Mandapam. Now, the celestial wedding is performed in this Kalyanotsava Mandapam.
VIMANA PRADAKSHINAM: Beyond the silver door, the path which circumambulates the main gopura of Ananda Nilaya is known as ‘Vimana Pradakshina’. Early, at the pre-dawn hour, while Suprabhata seva is performed to the Lord, devotees make Anga Pradakshina (rolling one’s body in humility all round the temple as a religious vow). Hence, it is also called Angapradakshina marg. In this pathway one can witness Sri Ranganadha just opposite to the silver entrance, Sri Varadaraja Swami temple, main kitchen, golden well, Ankurarpana Mandapam, Yagasala, Nanala (coins) Parakamani, Notla (Paper notes) Parkamani, Almyrah of Sandal Sreeranganathudu Vendi Vakili paste (Chandanapu ara) darshan of Vimana Venkateswara, cell of records, Sannidhi Bhashyakarulu – the seat of Sri Ramanuja, the temple of Yoganarasimhaswami, Lords’s hundi and the seat of Vishvaksena. All the small temples in this path way are called ‘Chutttu Gullu’(Sub-shrines encircling the main shrine).SRI RANGANADHAAs soon as we enter the temple through the silver door, we can witness Sri Ranganadha kneeling on Adisesha (serpent). There are small gold plated idols of Sri Varadaraja Swami and Lord Sri Venkateswara Swami on the upper and lower sides of Sri Ranganadha. The angapradakshina commences from here, moves round the Vimana Pradakshinam and comes to an end here. It is said that the Lord loves the devotees doing ‘Porlu dandalu’ and grants them their wishes.
SRI VARADARAJA SWAMI TEMPLE: In the Vimana Pradakshina pathway and at a distance of nine feet to the south of the silver door, is the Varadarajaswami temple. The idol is five feet high with a single pagoda over the shrine. Devotes have to go round this temple on their way to the Lord’s Darshan. The period in which this idol was installed is not known. It symbolises the glory of Varadaraja who is ever merciful and grants boons to the devotees!
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