Other places of interest
There are a number of temples in Tirumala itself, also in the town of Tirupati and in nearby Tiruchanur that are popular with pilgrims. Once Daiwik Hotels Tirupati becomes operational you can ask the hotel reception to help you organise a trip to these ancient shrines.
Situated near the Swami Pushkarini on the Tirumala Hill, the Varaha temple is believed to be older than the main Venkateswara shrine. This matches the legend that Varaha, the boar avatar of Lord Vishnu was the first god to come and live on Tirumala Hill. Later Lord Vishnu arrived here after Lakshmi had abandoned him. After his marriage to Padmavati he wanted to build a temple here and Varaha offered him the land.
The problem was that Vishnu did not have any money and had already taken a loan from Kuber for his marriage. So instead of payment he promised Varaha that he would always receive the first puja of the day and also that he should be offered the first naivedyam of the day. So Varaha is always worshipped and offered food before Lord Venkateswara.
The town of Tiruchanur is four kilometres from Tirupati and stands by the Swarnamukhi River. One of the legends of the Venkateswara Temple is about the marriage of Vishnu with Princess Padmavati, the daughter of Akasha Raja. Many pilgrims visit this temple after worshipping at the Venkateswara temple. There are also festivals when gifts are sent here from the main temple.
This small temple is built in the Vijayanagar style with pillared mandapa halls and the vimana spire is gilded in gold and has images of deities and lions.
In the garba griha the image of Padmavati has her holding lotuses in her two upper hands and her lower hands are in the abhaya (blessing to be fearless) and varada (giving boons) mudras. Padmavati is believed to be another aspect of the goddess Lakshmi and so is the goddess of wealth.
This temple was built at the foot of the Tirumala Hill and with the rising popularity of the Venkateswara shrine, the town of Tirupati grew around it. Pilgrims worship at this temple, bathe in the teertham tank and then head up the Tirumala Hill to the Venktaeswara Temple.
There are two sanctums in the temple. In one there is Lord Vishnu as Govindraja in a reclining posture. The other sanctum has Lord Krishna as Parthasarathi the charioteer of Arjuna and his consorts Rukmini and Satyabhama. Originally there was only the Parthasarathi image in this temple until the Vaishnava saint Sri Ramanuja installed the Govindraja image in the 12th century. He played a very active part in developing the Venkateswara temple and other shrines in this area. This temple also has a shrine to three Alwar poets, another dedicated to Sri Ramanuja and a seven story gopuram.
By the bank of the Suvarnamukhi River, 27 km from Tirupati is this ancient temple to Shiva. There are the five Panchabhuta temples in the south where the Shiva lingams are symbols of the five elements – earth, sky, fire, water and wind. Kalahasti has the Vayu or wind lingam. Built in the 5th century by Pallava kings it has additions made by the Cholas and Vijayanagar rulers. The Shiva lingam is believed to be swayambhu, self manifest and is white in colour. The temple is a day trip from Tirupati and worth a visit for its magnificent gopurams and sculptures.
Located at Narayanvanam, 36 km from Tiruptai, this ancient temple is where the marriage of Padmavati and Lord Venkateswara is said to have taken place. The Lord stayed here for a while before returning to Tirumala.
Devotees can get to worship Venkateswara in peace and calmness at this temple that is situated 5 km from Tirupati. The sanctum has an image of Lord Venkateswara and here he is known as Prasanna Venkateswara or Kalyana Venkateswara.
Situated in Tirupati, this temple has beautiful images of Lord Rama, Sita and Lakshman. The temple holds a very sacred Brahmotsavam festival in March-April that sees the gathering of thousands of devotees.
This is the only temple dedicated to Lord Shiva in Tirupati.Pilgrims take a dip in the temple tank before proceeding to the Tirumala temple. There are a number of beautiful waterfalls nearby.
Two kilometres from Tirumala is the Kalyani Dam and the Papavinasam waterfalls. The waterfall is a teertham and devotees bathe here before entering the Venkateswara Temple.
The Venkatachala Puranam says that the waters of the falls purify sins and bless devotees with peace and prosperity. Daily pujas and sankalpas can be performed here.
The Kalyani dam is the reservoir for the drinking water for pilgrims and residents of Tirupati and Tirumala. It is in the Bakarpeta forest and is a tranquil and picturesque spot easily reached by car.
The International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) has a beautiful temple in the city. In 1974 Srila Prabhupada, the founder of ISKCON visited the Venkateswara Temple. He expressed a wish to propagate and revive the message of the Bhagavat Gita. The temple was inaugurated in 1984. It has a beautiful gold and white architecture and has many carvings and glass paintings inside.
This is a rare natural arch in the hills that is a geological wonder. Situated one kilometre from the temple this rock formation is called Sila (rock) thoraman (garland strung over the threshold). The only such rock formation in Asia, it also has a landscaped garden.
This zoological park is part of the nature sanctuary that has been developed in the Tirumala Hills. The zoological park has a wide variety of species of animals and birds. It is also is active in the conservation of rare trees and plants of the region.