Said to be the world's richest temple, the Tirumati Tirumala Balaji Temple is situated on the Tirumala hill on the outskirts of Tirupati in the Chittoor district of Andhra Pradesh. Famous all over the world as a significant pilgrimage place, this ancient temple of Sri Venkateswara, the Lord of Seven Hills, is so called as Tirumala hill is a cluster of seven hills known as Seshachalam or Venkatachalam at an altitude of 2,800 ft above the sea level. The grand history of the temple spans over several centuries and it is the backbone of the pilgrimage and tourism industry of Andhra Pradesh. A fine example of Dravidian temple architecture, the Tirumala Temple received generous offerings from the great dynasties like the Pallavas of Kanchipuram, the Cholas of Tanjore, the Pandyas of Madurai and the Kings and chiefs of Vijayanagara.
The gopuram of the temple is splendid. Elaborate rituals and modes of
worship as stated by the saint Ramanujacharya and followed in the temple
even today. However, the most popular and well-known customs of the
temple are anointing the idol with camphor and the offering of the hair
by the pilgrims who visit the place. For the latter, one should go to
the licensed barbers only. The gold-plated 'Vimana' (Cupola) over the
sanctum sanctorum is known as 'the Ananda Nilayam'. Along with the idols
of the deities, this temple also houses statues of Vijayanagara king
Krishnadevaraya and his consorts, and Todarmal, the minister of Akbar.
The principal deity, Lord Venkateswara is also known as Venkataramana,
Srinivasa and Balaji and is said to have attributes of Vishnu and Shiva,
the preserver and the destroyer of the world.