The very name Tirupati is enough to evoke strong spiritual feelings, and while the name ‘God’s Abode’ indeed does justice to the place, Tirupati has quite a few other tourist attractions as well that make it a city worth visiting. Situated in the Chittoor district of Andhra Pradesh, Tirupati is one of the most popular pilgrimage centres in the country. Home to many heritage sites, and a plethora of ancient temples and monuments, Tirupati is one of the oldest cities of India, and finds mention in plenty of ancient texts.
The primary attraction of Tirupati is, of course, the Sri Venkateshwara Temple, which is the highlight of the town. The non-stop chanting of ‘Om Namo Venkatesaya’, the mad pilgrim rush, the heavy security surrounding the entire area, and the awe-inspiring 8-feet tall idol of Lord Venkateshwara – everything about the Sri Venkateshwara Temple is majestic and overwhelming. Spread over an area of 26 kilometres, the temple is also commonly referred to as the Temple of Seven Hills, as it is located in Tirumala, a little hill town home to the Tirumala Hills, which comprise of seven peaks. The Sri Venkateshwara Temple is situated on the seventh hill and is a religious landmark where thousands of people come to pay their respects every day. This temple is the wealthiest temple in the entire Indian subcontinent, owing mainly due to the fact that it receives a staggering number of donations each day. Standing under a gilded dome and looking up at the gigantic idol of Lord Venkateshwara adorned with flowers, gold and diamonds is a marvellous spiritual experience in itself – it is much like chancing upon serenity amidst a lot of chaos, and it is a feeling you won’t forget anytime soon.
There are other temples in Tirupati too that you can visit, including the Sri Kalahasti temple, Sri Govindarajaswami Temple, the Kondandarama Temple, the Parashurameshwara Temple, and the ISKCON temple.
Tirupati is home to a unique geological wonder that you shouldn’t miss out on. The Silathoranam is a natural arch formed out of rocks and is located at the Tirumala Hills. This natural rock formation is one of the only three of its kind in the entire world and is an important archaeological landmark.
Tirupati celebrates all its festivals with great pomp and show, so try and visit the place during one of their celebrations to get a feel of the vibrant culture and tradition of the city.
Be it the laddu prasadam from the Tirupati Balaji Temple, some authentic South Indian fare from a local restaurant, or a steaming cup of delicious filter coffee, Tirupati is a food lover's paradise. The local cuisine of the city is a blend of Telegu and Tamil cuisine, owing to the fact that Tirupati was earlier a part of Tamil Nadu before it was incorporated into Andhra Pradesh.
Being a city of religious significance, Tirupati has plenty to offer by way of shopping when it comes to pictures, idols, pendants, and other religion-related souvenirs.