Spiritual hub

Print edition : May 06, 2011

The Sri Venkateswara temple atop Tirumala in Tirupati on the eve of Brahmotsavam, in September 2010. -

Chittoor district has many temples and they attract pilgrims round the year.

CHITTOOR district attracts lakhs of tourists and pilgrims from all over the world. Apart from the Sri Venkateswara temple in Tirumala, there is the Sri Govindarajaswamy temple, the Kapilateertham temple, the Kodandaramaswamy temple, the Srinivasa Mangapuram temple, the Alamelu Mangapuram temple and the Hare Krishna shrine of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON), all in and around Tirupati.

The Sri Venkateswara temple is located on the Tirumala Hill. Many great rulers of the southern peninsula the Pallavas, the Cholas and the Pandyas were devotees of Lord Venkateswara. During the rule of the Vijayanagara dynasty, the temple witnessed a lot of development.

In 1843 A.D., the administration of the temple and a number of other shrines was entrusted to Sri Seva Dossji of Hatiramji Mutt in Tirumala. In 1933, the Madras Legislature passed a special Act to grant the Tirumala Tirupati Devastanams (TTD) Committee administrative powers over a group of temples in the Tirumala-Tirupati area, through a commissioner appointed by the Madras government. In 1951, the administration of the TTD was entrusted to a Board of Trustees and an executive officer was appointed by the government.

The pilgrimage to Tirumala is said to be incomplete without a visit to the Padmavathi Ammavaru temple in Alamelu Mangapuram, also known as Tiruchanur, about 4 km from Tirupati.

The Sri Govindarajaswamy temple is the biggest shrine in Tirupati. The Kalyana Venkateswaraswami temple at Srinivasa Mangapuram, where Lord Venkateswara is believed to have stayed with his consort Padmavathi after their marriage, is popular among those seeking to get married. Sri Kodandaramaswamy temple, which has Rama, Sita and Lakshmana as the presiding deities, is another important temple in Tirupati.

Another pilgrim centre in Chittoor district is the Varasidhi Vinayaka temple at Kanipakam (originally called Virahapuri) in Irala mandal. The temple was built in the 11th century by Kulothunga Chola I, and was expanded by the Vijayanagara rulers in 1336. Locals claim that the idol of Ganesha in the temple has been growing bigger in size. According to legends, the idol was found some thousand years ago by three physically challenged farmers while irrigating their field.

THE SRI VARASIDDHI Vinayaka temple at Kanipakam.-K.V. POORNACHANDRA KUMAR

Many family and civil disputes are settled in the Kanipakam temple with both the parties being asked to swear by the deity if a person swears by Vinayaka, it is taken as the absolute truth.

A visit to Srikalahasti, located 40 km from Tirupati, is also a must for pilgrims. The temple is dedicated to Lord Siva and the lingam' is considered swayambu (self-manifested). The presiding deity is Srikalahastheeswara, named so after three devotees sri' (spider), kala' (serpent) and hasti' (elephant) who worshipped Siva with unflinching devotion and attained salvation at this place.

The main lingam is in the shape of an elephant's trunk with tusks on either side and the figure of a spider at the bottom. From the top the lingam looks like a hooded snake. The presiding goddess here is Gnana Prasunambika, who represents wealth. A 12-day festival called Sivaratri Brahmotsavam is performed on Maha Sivaratri every year.

The temple is attributed to the planets Rahu and Kethu. Hence, a pilgrimage to Srikalahasti on a Sunday or a Tuesday and the Rahu Kethu sarpadosha nivarana puja performed during Rahu kalam' are believed to mitigate the evil effects of Rahu and Kethu. Childless couples and those trying to get married perform the puja to get the desired results.

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