Seven Hills...the divine abode of Lord Sri Venkateswara, are at a height of 2,820 feet above sea level. Covering a total area of about 100 sq.miles, the Seven Hills present the most picturesque panorama to the pilgrims.
Though known separately as Seshadri, Garudadri, Anjanadri, Narayanadri, Neeladri, Vrishabhadri and Venkatadri, the Seven Hills are treated as one single unit. Apart from the main temple of Lord Sri Venkateswara on the Venkatadri Hill, there are many places that are worth visiting on the uphill..
Tirupati at the lotus feet of Lord Sri Venkateswara has many places of Pilgrimage and Historical interest in an around it.
Kanipakam is a small village on the bank of Bahuda River. Located 65 kms from Tirupati, Kanipakam is famous for the ever growing idol of ‘Swayambu’ Varasidhi Vinayaka. The Swayambhu idol of Kanipakam is the up-holder of truth. Day to day disputes between people is resolved by taking a 'special oath'. The people in the dispute take a holy dip in the temple tank and swear before the lord. It is taken as gospel truth.
Vellore Golden Temple
This temple is situated around 110 kms from Tirupati. It is a unique temple where the Vimanam' and the 'Ardha Mandapam' have been coated with gold both in the interior and exterior. One-and-a-half tonnes of gold have gone into the design of the Sri Lakshmi Narayani Temple, which has been built at a cost of Rs.300 crore. Even the Satari, a crown with feet of the lord engraved on it, is made of solid gold weighing. Sri Narayani Peedam, a private religious charitable organisation, built the temple. And the glittering monument also boasts of some glittering figures. This is the first golden temple in Tamilnadu.
Srikalahasti is a holy town 35kms from Tirupati. It is located on the banks of the river Swarnamukhi, a tributary of the river Pennar. It is one of the important ancient Shiva Kshetras (Shiva Temples) of South India. The temple occupies the area between the river bank and the foot of the hills and is popularly known as Dakshina Kailasam. The three lofty Gopurams of the temple are remarkable for their architecture. This temple was built during the period of King Krishnadevaraya of Vijayanagar. A huge hundred pillared mantapam is another important feature of this shrine.
The temple is an architectural marvel where the Lingam is known as Vayulingam and the famous Rahu-kethu poojas are performed here. Kalahasti is also the place of origin of the popular textile painting art called kalamkari.
The name of the place comes from three animals, Sri (spider), Kala (snake) and Hasti (elephant) who worshipped Shiva and gained salvation here. A statue that shows all three animals is situated in the main shrine.
This town is host to the ancient temple dedicated to Padmavati, the consort of Sri Venkateswara who resides at Tirumala-Tirupati, one of the most popular pilgrimage resorts in India. Tiruchanur is about four kms (2 miles) from Tirupati Railway station .
Offering a pooja at Tirupati is incomplete without offering a pooja to Sri Padmavati Devi at Trichanur. This temple is one of the most famous Mahalakshmi temples in India and frequented by millions of pilgrims throughout the year after visiting the famous Balaji temple at Tirumala.
This temple town is at the banks of River Swarnamukhi.
The Holy Temple of Kapila Theertham is the only temple dedicated to Lord Shiva in over a 50 mile radius of the holy temple cities of Tirupati and Tirumala that abound with temples of the Vaishnavait Deity Vishnu. This huge temple stands at the entrance to a mountain cave in one of the steep and vertical faces at the foot of the amazing hills of Tirumala, where the waters of the mountain stream Paapa Vinasanam fall as a huge waterfall. It is situated about 3 km to the north of Tirupati. A huge stone statue of a seated bull "Nandhi", Lord's Shiva's steed, greets devotees and passers-by at the entrance to the temple.
One of the holiest of Hindu saints, Saint Kapila Maharshi, was said to have lived here, worshipped, and meditated in this very cave before the idol of Lord Shiva and hence the name "Kapila theertham", the word "theertham" meaning a holy lake or holy pond that formed due to the waterfalls.
The literal meaning of this term is the annihilation on sins. A bath at Papanasanam is said to clean the sins committed by anyone.
Akasaganga Theertham in Tirupati holds fabulous legends about its origin. One of the waterfalls found in the near surroundings of the main temple, this sacred torrent gains predominance over the others since all the rituals are conducted with the holy waters of this theertha. It situates just 5 kilometers away from the main temple and traditionally the Tirumala Nambi family is allowed to take water from the waterfall to the temple.
Though there is an enormous legend about this lovely waterfall, which blooms to its zenith in the rainy season, the most prevalent among is the one that the lord himself had showed this waterfall to the person who used to bring water for his daily poojas. The gurgling waters of this stream make awe inspiring scenery in rainy season. Apart from its pictorial visatas, the brook appears so tempting that one could not spare the desire to take a refreshing bath in the gushing stream. This holy theertha is found it’s rendering in the Vedas and it is believed that Akasa Ganga Teertham originates from the feet of the deity.
This geological wonder is about 1 km from the Temple. Called as 'Eprochian Unconformity' this geological arch is about 25 feet in length and 10 feet in height and is one of the oldest natural arches in the world. Silathoranam is a natural rock formation in the form of an arch, near the Chakra Tirtham. Geologists have identified the rocks on the hill as pre-Cambrian, and this arch formation suggests an antiquity of several million years to the Tirumala hill.
It is said that there are only two other natural rock arches of such great antiquity in the world. One is the Dalradian Quartzite in U.K and the other is the Rainbow Arch Bridge of Utah in USA.
Narayanavanam is just 35 km away from Tirupati and 95 km away from Chennai. Lord Sri Venkateswaraswami and Sri Padmavathi Ammavaru, daughter of Akasa Maharaja were married here. Sri Kalyana Venkateswaraswami is the main deity here.
There are four sub-temples:
- Sri Andal Ammavari temple
- Sri Sita Lakshmana Sameta Ramulavari temple
- Sri Ranganayakula Swami temple
In addition, there are five other temples attached to Sri Kalyana Venkateswaraswami temple:
- Sri Veerabhadra Swami temple
- Sri Sakti Vinayaka Swami temple
- Sri Agastheeswara Swami temple
- Sri Avanakshamma temple
The annual Brahmotsavams are conducted every year at the main temple, Sri Veerabhadraswami temple and Sri Avanakshamma temple. Navarathri festival is also celebrated at the Sri Avanakshamma temple every year.
From Narayanavanam you can go to kona falls, singiri perumal kona, adhala kona where water will be falling 24/7.
Sri Govindaraja Swamy Temple
Well known as the temple that houses the elder brother of Lord Sri Venkateswara, Govindaraja Swami Temple in Tirupati is about 1 km from Tirupati Railway Station and 2 km from Tirupati Bus Station.
Saint Ramanujacharya consecrated the temple in 1130 AD. Govindaraja Swami Temple has two main shrines dedicated to Lord Vishnu and Lord Krishna. The shrine to the north is Sri Govindaraja, who is Lord Vishnu, lying on Ananta. The shrine to the south is Sri Parthasarathi (Krishna as the charioteer of Arjuna).
The idols of Rukmini and Satyabhama (Krishna's wives) are also found here. Govindaraja Swami Temple has a remarkable outer gopura and an inner gopura. The inner gopuram is the earliest one, dating between the 14th and 15th centuries and has carvings that depict scenes from Ramayana and Lord Krishna's life.
Sri Padmavathi Temple
Tiruchanoor, also known as Alamelumangapuram, is about 5 km from Tirupati. The temple of Sri Padmavathi Devi, the consort of Lord Sri Venkateswara is situated here. It is said that a visit to Tirumala is fruitful only after visiting the Sri Padmavathi Devi temple.
You may wonder why Sri Padmavathi Devi's temple is away from Lord Sri Venkateswara's. Legend has it that the Lord (Sri Maha Vishnu, who later took on the incarnation of Sri Venkateswara) showed his reverence towards the sage, Bhrigu Maharshi, even though the sage had insulted Vishnu by kicking Him on the chest.
In anger, Sri Maha Lakshmi (the Lord's consort) reached Patala Loka, where she heard a divine voice stating that a pushkarini was dug on the banks of the river Swarnamukhi, and here She immersed herself in penance for 12 years.
In the 13th year (during the month of Karteeka, on Panchami day in the last fortnight, highlighted by the nakshathram Uttarashadha), Sri Padmavathi emerged from a golden lotus. It is believed that Goddess MahaLakshmi herself emerged as Sri Padmavathi.
Srinivasa Mangapuram is a small village, 12 km west of Tirupati in Chittoor District. To the south east of this village, is the temple of Sri Kalyana Venkateswaraswami. It is said that Lord Venkateshwara, after his marriage with Sri Padmavathi Devi, stayed here before going to Tirumala. Annual Brahmotsavam is an important festival celebrated here
Nagalapuram, is a small town 70 km south east of Tirupati. This village was designed during Sri Krishnadevaraya reign in the memory of his mother. The town has a very famous temple of Vedanarayana swamy.
The Vedanarayana Swamy Temple reflects the vijayanagara architectural style with the Vedanarayana swamy idol facing west. The Temple has got 4 big gali gopurams. The sanctum sanctorium has Vedanarayana swamy with his consorts Sridevi and Bhoodevi on either side.
Temple brahmostavam comes on Shukla Dwadasi, Trayodasi and Chaturdasi of Phalguni masam (telugu calendar). Temple architecture is done in such a way that during these three days, the sun rays fall on the main deity feet, navel and fore head between 1800 hrs and 1815 hrs respectively.
Chandragiri Fort lies about 14 km south of the temple town of Tirupati, and you come face-to-face with history by stepping into the fort. Within its cyclopean walls and corbelled structures, you feel history breathe and push its way steadily into the present.
The Raja Mahal Palace is now an archeological museum. The palace is three storeyed, is an example of Indo-Sarcen architecture of Vijayanagar period. The crowning towers represent the Hindu architectural elements. The palace was constructed using stone, brick, lime mortar and devoid of timber.
A visit to Chandragiri Fort would be incomplete without witnessing the light and sound shows that are conducted here at nightfall. In a whirling hypnotic motion, the two shows, one with a Telugu commentary, and the other, with an English commentary, wove pictures from a past that dwelt on the Chandragiri Fort.