Tirumala – Richest temple in Hindudom
• Tirumala is hailed as the richest temple in Hindudom.
• This Sri Venkateshwara temple is also the biggest draw on the pilgrimage circuit. An average of 50,000 devotees flock the temple town on an ordinary day, the figure shooting past 100,000 mark on festive days.
• Tirupati has also overtaken the Vatican as the most visited religious places in the planet. The claim is that Tirupati has even overtaken the vatican on revenue (collection) terms. However this seems to be an exaggeration.
• The Vatican is as good as any sovereign, independent nation, and is run like a multi-national corporation. Here the pope is the CEO who oversees the temporal as well as the religious affairs of his fiefdom.
• Nevertheless Tirupati on the other hand is run by a trust board with an IAS officer appointed as its executive officer who oversees 18000 unionized employees in state guarantees jobs.
• TTD runs universities, hospitals, funds marriages and also has a television channel if its own known as SVBC.
Tirumala - Location
• This ancient temple lies on the peak of the seventh hill Venkatachalam, from where comes the Lord’s name, Venkateshwara (Lord of Venkata hills).
• The seven hills have another name “Seshachala”, as it resembles the hood of the sesha, the Lord’s snake couch. Tirumala is the sacred hill, and Tirupati is the town below.
• The hills are at an altitude of 1000 metres. Alwars, puranas, and stala puranas all claim that only the Lord can bring salvation in the Kali yuga.
• This shrine finds mention in several puranas – Varsha purana and Bhavishyottara purana being the most important ones.
Tirumala - Legend
The most popular legend concerning the seven hills is that the Lord came down to earth as Srinivasa and became the adopted son of Bahula devi. Bahula devi was Yashoda in her previous life. Later Srinivasa meets Padmavathy, the incarnation of Bhudeviand daughter of King Akasa raja. They fall in love and then get married. All this happens in the time when Sridevi is engaged in penance waiting for him to return. This trio then meet in Venkata hill. When the ladies argue over whom he actually belongs to, the Lord turns into a stone as his work on life is now accomplished. Sri Padmavathy then returns to her abode in Alamelumangapuram or Tiruchanur and Sridevi is Sri Mahalakshmi of ancient Karveer region which is now identified as Kolhapur in Maharashtra.