Venkateshwara Temple

Telangana & Andhra Pradesh

Legends about the hill itself and the surrounding area appear in the Puranas, and the temple’s history may date back 2000 years. Devotees flock to Tirumala to see Venkateshwara, an avatar of Vishnu. Among the many powers attributed to Venkateshwara is the granting of any wish made at this holy site. Foreigners (with passport) are able to gain fast-entry (₹300) at the Supatham Gate and avoid the worst of the scrum, though expect jostling.

The main temple is an atmospheric place, though you’ll be pressed between hundreds of devotees when you see it. Venkateshwara inspires bliss and love among his visitors from the back of the dark and magical inner sanctum; it smells of incense and resonates with chanting. You’ll have a moment to say a prayer and then you’ll be shoved out again. Don’t forget to collect your delicious ladoo from the counter: Tirumala ladoos (sweet balls made with chickpea flour, cardamom and dried fruits) are famous across India.

Many pilgrims donate their hair to the deity – in gratitude for a wish fulfilled, or to renounce ego – so hundreds of barbers attend to devotees. Tirumala and Tirupati are filled with tonsured men, women and children.

Upon entry, you’ll have to sign a form declaring your faith in Lord Venkateshwara.

Pity the locals queuing for ‘ordinary darshan’, a wait of anywhere from three to eight hours in claustrophobic metal cages ringing the temple. Special-entry darshan ticketsare also bookable online and allow quicker access.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Telangana & Andhra Pradesh attractions

1. Mokala Parvatham

1.25 MILES

Pilgrims' temple and resting spot on the Alipiri hike up to Tirumala.

3. Gali Goporum

3.93 MILES

Temple gateway on the Alipiri hike, dating from the 16th century.

4. Palace Area

7.52 MILES

At the Chandragiri Fort complex, the palace area contains nice gardens and the Raja Mahal, a heavily restored Vijayanagar palace reminiscent of Hampi…

5. Museum

7.66 MILES

A reasonably interesting museum of bronze and stone sculptures at the Chandragiri Fort complex. Worth a visit, but somewhat lacking in information and…

6. Sri Kalahasteeswara Temple

24.25 MILES

The holy town of Sri Kalahasti, 37km east of Tirupati, is known for its Sri Kalahasteeswara Temple, dedicated to Shiva. There's been a temple here since…