Tirumala

From Academic Kids

Tirumala (తిరుమల), the abode of the Hindu God Lord Venkateswara, is situated on a very ancient ridge of mountains in a southern district of Andhra Pradesh. It houses the richest Hindu temple, monitored by the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams. The word Tirumala can be split into Tiru + Malai. Tiru meaning sacred and Malai meaning Hill. One has to go through 7 mountains to reach the temple. The temple is open for more than 22 hours in day, and it usually takes anywhere from 2 to 20 hours, depending on the season, to get to the Sanctom sanctorum from the time one registers into the queue system.

Tirumala is also the most visited temple in the world. It is estimated that more that 50,000 people visit the temple everyday; this makes it almost 19 million people in a year, almost double the estimated number of people visiting Vatican City. The lord in here is said to be Swayambhu, meaning that the statue was naturally formed and not sculpted by anyone. The Temple was built by King Thondaman.

In the holy shrine of Tirumala, lot of devotees offer their hair as sacrifice against their fulfilled wish. They also drop their offerings in the form of money, gold, silver or anything they wish in the holy hundi(a box to collect the offerings). According to Hindu mythology, all the offerings to Lord Venkateswara count to repay the loan taken by him from Kubera for his marriage expenses which will be repaid completely by the end of Kaliyuga.

Tirumala also has a naturally formed rock arch which at about 3 million years old, the second oldest natural arch in the world. The oldest arch is at Arches National Park, Utah, USA.

The drive to Tirumala is an enchanting half an hour from Tirupati, the town at the base of the mountain. One gets to see abundant greenery and unique geological formations on the way to the hill shrine. There is also a walkway from the base of the mountain to the shrine. It is a strenuous walk and undertaken by ardent devotees as a penance. An average person takes about 3 hours to reach the temple from the starting point at the base of mountain (locally referred to as Alipiri)

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