The Sacred Ambience
On the way to the Tirumala Balaji Temple on the Seven Sacred Hills, Tirupati, AP, India.
f/8.0, 1/1600, ISO 250
The picturesque Tirumala hills have an altitude of 2820 ft above sea level. It comprises of seven peaks called Seshadri, Vedadri, Garudadri, Anjanadri, Vrishabhadri, Narayanadri and Venkatadri (Adri in sanskrit means hill). The Venkatam hill is believed to be a part of the celestial Mount Meru, brought to the earth from Vaikuntam (Heaven) by Garuda (an eagle, God Vishnu’s vehicle).
The sacred temple of Sri Venkateswara is located on the seventh peak, Venkatadri. The abode of the Lord is about 10 km north-west of Tirupati and there are footsteps leading to the hill as well as two separate serpentine roads to reach the shrine. The shrine of the Lord is very ancient and there are ample references to it in the early inscriptions belonging to the Chola and Pallava periods as well in the Sangam literature.
According to Hindu Scriptures, God Vishnu has manifested Himself in the form of an idol in Tirumala (name when reincarnated: Lord Venkateswara). God Vishnu revealed himself earlier in the previous incarnations as Varahaswamy on the banks of the temple tank. This manifestation of the white boar (Sveta Varaham) is enshrined in the Adi Varahaswany temple situated on the northeastern banks of the tank.
The Sanctum sanctorum called the Garbha Griha is where the idol of Lord Venkateswara resides. The idol stands majestically at about a height of eight feet, at the centre of the sanctum directly beneath a gold-plated dome shaped roof called the Ananda Nilaya Divya Vimana of the temple. The exquisite idol called the Mulabera is believed to be Svayambhu (self manifested). No human is known to have either sculpted or installed the idol in the shrine.
During normal days, the imposing idol is adorned with a golden Kiritam (crown) with a large emerald embedded on its front. On special occasions like the Brahmothsavam, He is adorned with His precious diamond crown. On His forehead, the Lord has a thick double patch of upright Namam drawn with refined camphor which screens his eyes. In between the two white patches is the Kasturi tilakam. His ears are bedecked with shinning golden Makara Kundalas. He holds a gem-embedded chakra (wheel) in his right hand and a Sankha (conch) in his left. The right hand has its finger, pointing to his lotus feet, as the only recourse to his devotees to attain oneness with Him and enjoy eternal bliss. His right hand is akimbo to assure protection to his devotees and to symbolize that the proverbial Samsara Sagara, the ocean of mundane life, is only hip deep if they seek refuge in him.
He has, on the right side of his chest, a clear impression of Goddess Lakshmi, his consort. The Deity has a unique magnetism: many devotees who go through the fleeting Sarvadarsanam (visit to temple) have unusual benign psychic experience. They leave the place with a sense of satisfaction, coupled with a spiritual hunger to stand in front of Lord Venkateswara and experience the bliss again and again.
Info Source: http://www.etirupati.com/seven_hills.htm