A less explored and undiscovered treasure perched in the Eastern Ghats in the Shevaroy Hills, Yercaud is a rejuvenating hill-station in the Salem district of Tamil Nadu. It is situated around the Emerald Lake, which is also known as the Yercaud Lake. The emerald green hue of the beautiful natural lake is also where the hill-station gets its meaning from. In the local language, the word, Yercaud translates to ‘The Lake Forest’, which it, indeed, is. This Tamil Nadu weekend destination is all that an ideal getaway is about – green landscapes, fog covered hill-tops, fresh breeze, and a soulful experience. Steeped in raw natural attractions and a rustic aesthetic, the destination is set at an altitude of 4970 ft above sea level. From flora and fauna to an air of freshness and purity, Yercaud is also called the Ooty of the Poor, given its low cost tourism. The hill-station is seemingly enveloped under picturesque skies above dense forests that grow coffee, spices and fruits, with oranges in abundance. It houses some famous parks and gardens proffering floral masterpieces, like Anna Park and Rose Garden to name a few. Yercaud, discovered in the 19th century by the Britishers, also boasts of some stunning vantage points that help tourists soak in the beauty of the town. Due to its unspoiled and pristine nature, Yercaud is a paradise for nature lovers, trekkers and adventurers, with various trek tours that take you to spots like Kiliyur Falls and Tipperary Point. It sees less crowd than most hill-stations, which is why it remains fairly raw and thereby, cost-effective. Moreover, Yercaud is a compact destination, easily explorable in a day or two. Beautified by fruit orchards and spice & coffee plantations, the hill also reaps in its merit from its flora and fauna that intrigues all kinds of vacationers. Epitomized as the Jewel of South India, the untouched charm of this lake hill-station and its quaintness, undoubtedly, makes it one of the topmost places to visit in Tamil Nadu.
1. Beware of software you install Many applications require access to your mobile phone camera and photos before installation. Unless you trust the creator of the application, it is safer to avoid installing as your device will be vulnerable to external tampering and sensitive data theft. Ensure that permissions given match the purpose of the downloaded application. After the application is installed, you may or may not be able to change this permission.
2. Do not open suspicious URLs If you receive an invitation to click on a URL to win a prize or holiday within the next 15 minutes, and that little voice in your head is telling you that it seems too good to be true, it probably is. Do not click any links even if it looks like it was sent from a friend, and do not be pressured to make quick and potentially unsafe decisions.
3. Do not use modified smartphones or electronic devices When restrictions imposed by the smartphone or electronic device manufacturer have been removed to allow the installation of unauthorised software (known as “jailbreak” for iOS, “rooting” for Android), it is possible for your device to be fully controlled externally. Your mobile device can be used for criminal activities, for cyber scams or attacks, without your knowledge.
4. Avoid using free WiFi networks When you connect to a hotel’s free WiFi network or to a public WiFi network in a restaurant or shopping mall, always check with the staff what the name of the official free WiFi network is. Cyber attackers sitting close by can introduce fake WiFi access points with the network name very close to legitimate one, like “C0ffeeshop” instead of “Coffeeshop”. Fake WiFi networks can ask you to provide personal information such as email addresses and passwords.
5. Do not make sensitive transactions using public WiFi networks Some improperly developed or configured mobile applications can allow cyber attackers to tap on the same WiFi network to sniff and decode personal sensitive data accessed via your mobile device. Even if a secure HTTPS connection is used, some applications may not be sufficiently validated which can lead to your web traffic being intercepted by a cyber attacker, sitting between you and the application’s servers.
6. Set PINs/ face recognition/ fingerprint for device unblock If you haven’t done it, set a phone lock. Sometimes cyber attackers do not need to steal your phone to install malicious applications. Three minutes of unattended access to your mobile device is more than enough time to transfer your private information to an external web drive.
7. Do not leave your mobile device with strangers for charging When you leave your mobile phone to charge at public locations, your data can be transferred to another device without your knowledge. It is better to use a power bank than to hand over your mobile device to unknown people, even if they look friendly
8. Use an anti-malware solution with a remote wipe function Installing an anti-malware application in your mobile device will enable you to remotely wipe your personal data from it in the event that it is stolen, once the device is switched on and online again.
Social engineering attacks are when bad actors send fake emails (phishing attacks) or text messages (smishing attacks) to your employees in an effort to trick them into handing over private information like their passwords or downloading malware onto their devices.
Reports by cybersecurity firm Lookout and Verizon show a 37% increase in enterprise mobile phishing attacks and that phishing attacks were the top cause of data breaches globally in 2020.
Phishing Attack Countermeasures
The best defense for phishing and other social engineering attacks is to teach employees how to spot phishing emails and SMS messages that look suspicious and avoid falling prey to them altogether. Reducing the number of people who have access to sensitive data or systems can also help protect your organization against social engineering attacks because it reduces the number of access points attackers have to gain access to critical systems or information.
2. Data Leakage via Malicious Apps
Today, hackers can easily find an unprotected mobile app and use that unprotected app to design larger attacks or steal data, digital wallets, backend details, and other juicy bits directly from the app.
For example, when your employees visit Google Play or the App Store to download apps that look innocent enough, the apps ask for a list of permissions before people are allowed to download them. These permissions generally require some kind of access to files or folders on the mobile device, and most people just glance at the list of permissions and agree without reviewing them in great detail.
However, this lack of scrutiny can leave devices and enterprises vulnerable. Even if the app works the way it’s supposed to, it still has the potential to mine corporate data and send it to a third party, like a competitor, and expose sensitive product or business information.
How to Protect Against Data Leakage
The best way to protect your organization against data leakage through malicious or unsecured applications is by using mobile application management (MAM) tools. These tools allow IT admins to manage corporate apps (wipe or control access permissions) on their employees’ devices without disrupting employees’ personal apps or data.
3. Unsecured Public WiFi
Public WiFi networks are generally less secure than private networks because there’s no way to know who set the network up, how (or if) it’s secured with encryption, or who is currently accessing it or monitoring it. And as more companies offer remote work options, the public WiFi networks your employees use to access your servers (e.g., from coffee shops or cafes) could present a risk to your organization.
For example, cybercriminals often set up WiFi networks that look authentic but are actually a front to capture data that passes through their system (a “man in the middle” attack). Here’s what that looks like:
If this seems far-fetched, it isn’t. Creating fake WiFi hotspots in public spaces with network names that look completely legit is incredibly simple, and people are very willing to connect, as shown by experiments run at the Democratic and Republican conventions in 2016 and by an experiment run by a researcher in 2019 from Magic.
How to Reduce Risks Posed By Unsecured Public WiFi
The best way for you to protect your organization against threats over public WiFi networks is by requiring employees to use a VPN to access company systems or files. This will ensure that their session stays private and secure, even if they use a public network to access your systems.
4. End-to-End Encryption Gaps
An encryption gap is like a water pipe with a hole in it. While the point where the water enters (your users’ mobile devices) and the point where the water exits the pipe (your systems) might be secure, the hole in the middle lets bad actors access the water flow in between.
Unencrypted public WiFi networks are one of the most common examples of an encryption gap (and it’s why they’re a huge risk to organizations). Since the network isn’t secured, it leaves an opening in the connection for cybercriminals to access the information your employees are sharing between their devices and your systems.
However, WiFi networks aren’t the only thing that poses a threat—any application or service that’s unencrypted could potentially provide cybercriminals with access to sensitive company information. For example, any unencrypted mobile messaging apps your employees use to discuss work information could present an access point for a bad actor.
Solution: Ensure Everything is Encrypted
For any sensitive work information, end-to-end encryption is a must. This includes ensuring any service providers you work with encrypt their services to prevent unauthorized access, as well as ensuring your users’ devices and your systems are encrypted as well.
5. Internet of Things (IoT) Devices
The types of mobile devices that access your organization’s systems are branching out from mobile phones and tablets to include wearable tech (like the Apple Watch) and physical devices (like Google Home or Alexa). And since many of the latest IoT mobile devices have IP addresses, it means bad actors can use them to gain access to your organizations’ network over the internet if those devices are connected to your systems.
How to Combat Shadow IoT Threats
Mobile device management (MDM) tools can help you combat shadow IoT threats, as well as identity and access management (IAM) tools like Auth0. However, IoT/Machine-to-Machine (M2M) security is still in a bit of a “wild west” phase at the moment. So it’s up to each organization to put the appropriate technical and policy regulations in place to ensure their systems are secure.
Spyware is used to survey or collect data and is most commonly installed on a mobile device when users click on a malicious advertisement (“malvertisement”) or through scams that trick users into downloading it unintentionally.
Whether your employees have an iOS or Android device, their devices are targets ripe for data mining with spyware—which could include your private corporate data if that device is connected to your systems.
How to Protect Against Spyware
Dedicated mobile security apps (like Google’s Play Protect) can help your employees detect and eliminate spyware that might be installed on their devices and be used to access company data. Ensuring your employees keep their device operating systems (and applications) up to date also helps ensure that their devices and your data are protected against the latest spyware threats.
7. Poor Password Habits
A 2020 study by Balbix found that 99% of the people surveyed reused their passwords between work accounts or between work and personal accounts. Unfortunately, the passwords that employees are reusing are often weak as well.
For example, a 2019 study by Google found that 59% of the people they surveyed used a name or a birthday in their password, and 24% admitted to using a password like one of these below:
These bad password habits present a threat to organizations whose employees use their personal devices to access company systems. Since both personal and work accounts are accessible from the same device with the same password, it simplifies the work a bad actor has to do in order to breach your systems.
However, these behaviors also provide opportunities for credential-based brute force cyberattacks like credential stuffing or password spraying because cybercriminals can use weak or stolen credentials to access sensitive data through company mobile apps.
How to Reduce or Eliminate Mobile Password Threats
The NIST Password Guidelines are widely regarded as the international standard for password best practices. Following these guidelines—and insisting your employees do the same—will help protect you against threats from weak or stolen passwords. Password managers can simplify the work required for your employees to follow these guidelines.
Requiring your employees to use more than one authentication factor (multi-factor authentication or MFA) to access mobile company applications will also help reduce the risk that a bad actor could gain access to your systems since they’d need to verify their identity with additional authentication factors in order to log in.
Finally, implementing passwordless authentication will help you eliminate password risks altogether. For example, in the event that a mobile device is stolen or accessed illegally, requiring a facial scan as a primary (or secondary) authentication factor could still prevent unauthorized access.
8. Lost or Stolen Mobile Devices
Lost and stolen devices aren’t a new threat for organizations. But with more people working remotely in public places like cafes or coffee shops and accessing your systems with a wider range of devices, lost and stolen devices pose a growing risk to your organization.
How to Protect Against Lost or Stolen Device Threats
First and foremost, you’ll want to ensure employees know what steps to take if they lose their device. Since most devices come with remote access to delete or transfer information, that should include asking employees to make sure those services are activated.
Mobile device management (MDM) tools can also help you secure, encrypt, or wipe sensitive company information from a device that’s lost or stolen, so long as those tools were installed before the device went missing.
9. Out of Date Operating Systems
Like other data security initiatives, mobile security requires continuous work to find and patch vulnerabilities that bad actors use to gain unauthorized access to your systems and data.
Companies like Apple and Google address a lot of these vulnerabilities with operating system updates. For example, in 2016, Apple realized it had three zero-day vulnerabilities that left its devices open for spyware attacks and released a patch to protect users against these vulnerabilities.
However, these patches only protect your organization if your employees keep their devices up to date at all times. And according to Verizon’s Mobile Security Index Report, operating system updates on 79% of the mobile devices used by enterprises are left in the hands of employees.
How To Keep Mobile Operating Systems Up To Date
Google and Apple both allow organizations to push updates to managed Android and iOS devices. Third-party MDM tools (for example, Jamf) often provide this functionality as well.
IAM Tools Can Help Secure Company Mobile Applications
Identity and Access Management (IAM) tools can help organizations secure the apps and data that users access from their mobile devices, including:
Restricting which devices and users can access enterprise applications and data, as well as which parts of those applications they’re allowed to access.
We encounter countless messages and calls from unknown contacts on a daily basis. It is best to avoid those messages and calls, specially if its a suspicious link, or a call from a suspicious number.
Always check for the country code when receiving a call from an unknown number. The country code for India is 91.
Beware of the selfie camera
Always keep the selfie camera setting turned off. You can always switch it on once you are sure the call is from a known person.
Avoid unknown groups
We are all added to an unknown WhatsApp group once in a while. It is best to leave the group as soon as possible to avoid a potential security breach.
The options in the privacy settings allows users to make their profile completely private. Users can choose to make their profile picture, status and last seen visible to everyone, contacts only or to nobody. It is best to choose the ‘contacts only’ option.
In a way, yes. You’ll have to learn about the way Truecaller works to understand this.
Truecaller works on a methodology called “crowdsourcing “. Now what is crowdsourcing? How is Truecaller able to tell you the name of a caller not in your contacts list? Simply, by ‘asking’ it to someone who has the number in their contacts list.
Every user that uses the Truecaller app submits his contact list to Truecaller’s servers. Now if any of these contacts calls you and you don’t have that number saved in your phone, Truecaller tells you who it is by looking at the information stored on their server by their other users. This is called as crowdsourcing.
The privacy concern here is that the app takes up all your contacts and you don’t have a choice to allow them or not. I understood the way this app works as soon as I first installed in on my phone. Since then, I have never used it again because I don’t want them to ‘spy’ on me like this.
So by literal definition, you can’t call it a complete spyware, but it does take your information like location, contacts, etc. so you have to decide if it is a concern for you or not. For me, it is.
PS: Almost every app you use on your phone is doing this with or without your knowledge. Facebook does it, Google does it. It’s actually very difficult in today’s world to use the internet and not be spied upon by these huge tech giants. So we’re all just compromising with our privacy and safety
The gigantic crystalline-like rock formations of Yana stand proud and tall among the evergreen forests of the Western Ghats in Uttara Kannada District. Yana is an ideal destination for pilgrims, trekkers, and nature-lovers alike. A 16km trek through the cool and breezy hills brings you to the foot of the mountain where the rock formations begin. At the top, a stunning sight awaits you: the awesome Bhairaveshwara and Jaganmohini shikharas (or peaks). A cave temple dedicated to Lord Shiva lies below these shikharas. The vagaries of time have caused these limestone structures to turn blackish brown and lots of beehives dot the rock surface. A popular legend associated with Yana holds that Bhasmasura, an evil demon, performed penance to Lord Shiva and obtained the power of reducing to ashes anybody on whose head he placed his hand. An ungrateful Bhasmasura, however, soon decided to test the boon on his benefactor. To escape from him, Lord Shiva came to earth and hid in this place. Lord Vishnu taking the form of a beautiful woman Mohini, challenged the demon to dance and made him touch his own head and thereby reducing him to ashes.
Yana rocks are an adventure seeker’s ultimate destination. Yana in Uttara Kannada district attracts trekkers and climbers from all over the world.
Why Visit Yana:
Hike up to the rocks: Yana attracts hikers because of its two massive rock formations, known as Bhairaveshwara hill and Mohini hill (90 meters) in height.
Temples: At the bottom of Bhairaveshwara hill, a Shiva temple, believed to be self emerged exists. Water drips on the Shiva Linga from the top of rocks.
Bird Watching: Probability of bird spotting is very high at this rocks and nearby areas.
Waterfalls: Trek to visit Vibhooti waterfalls will be an excellent adventure activity in Yana (9.7 kms by trek from Yana, longer road access available but 70 kms by road)
There is a Kannada saying “Sokku iddare Yana, Rokka iddare Gokarna”- If you have lots of money to spend, go to Rona (Gokarna), if you are feeling over enthusiastic, visit Yana. This saying was due to extreme difficulty one had to face in the past to reach Yana. Now well paved roads take you till the bottom of the rocks.
Mythology: The names of the majestic rocks at Yana are linked to an interesting section in Hindu mythology. A demon named Bhasmasura manages to get a unique gift that anything on which he keeps his palm burns into ashes (bhasma). With this unique skill Bhasmasura wrecks havoc and attempts to try his skill on the very person who granted the gift- Lord Shiva. Fearing his life, Lord Shiva seeks help from Lord Vishnu, who takes the shape of a beautiful woman named Mohini and appears in front of Bhasmasura. Trying to win over Mohini, Bhasmasura accepts her challenge to dance with her and perform the same steps as she does. As the dance progresses, Mohini keeps her hand over her head. Bhasmasura performs the same act and burns into ashes.
How to reach Yana: Plan about half a day to explore Yana. A visit to Yana rocks can also be clubbed with a visit to Murudeshwara (76 kms), Gokarna (48 kms) and Karwar (90 kms) along the coastline would be a wonderful option especially for those looking to enjoy some vitamin sea.
By Train: Kumta is the nearest railway station to Yana from KSR, Bengaluru Station. You can hop on to Karwar Express which is usually scheduled for 5:30 AM from the departing destination. There are trains available from Mangaluru Railway Station to Kumta as well. Karwar Express transits via Mysuru Railway Station to Bengaluru with the station of arrival being Kumta, totally close to 470 kms away from Yana.
By Road: Travelers can either take their own vehicles and drive through the smooth NH 48 from Bengaluru to Yana which is approximately 470 kms and close to 9 hours by road.
There is bus connectivity such as KSRTC (Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation) and private buses as well up to Kumta from Bengaluru.
The closest city to Yana, Sirsi, is about 30 kms and takes about 1 hour to reach the destination.
The next closest town to Yana is Hubli-Dharwad, which is about 104 kms give or take and takes close to 3 hours of travel by road.
By Air: The closest airport to Kumta is Debolim Airport, Goa to reach Kumta and the rest that follow are closer based on distance from the coast and connectivity. You may either hire taxis or hop on to the public transport to reach Yana or your accommodation in Kumta or the surrounding locations.
Places to stay near Yana: Multitude of hotel options are available in Kumta.
Tirumala Tirupati Balaji Temple is the most popular Vaishnavite temple in the world. It is located in Tirumala in the Chittoor district of Andhra Pradesh. The presiding deity, Lord Venkateshwara, is an incarnation of Lord Vishnu. He is believed to have appeared to save humankind from Kaliyuga effects.
The temple is located at the peak of Tirumala hill, also known as Venkatadri. The Venkatadri is one of the seven hills (Saptagiri) considered holy by the Hindus. These seven hills are – Seshadri, Neeladri, Garudadri, Anjanadri, Vrushabhadri, Narayanadri, and Venkatadri.
Tirumala Tirupati Balaji Temple opens as early as 3 AM in the morning. The temple closes at 1:30 AM the next day although General Darshan stops after 1 AM.
Here are the different kind of Darshans and their respective timings:
General Darshan (Sarva Darshanam) – This Darshan is open for the general public. The timings are different each day of the week.
Monday, Tuesday, Saturday and Sunday – The Darshan starts from 7:30 AM – 7 PM in the evening. It resumes from 8 PM till 1 AM the next morning.
Wednesday and Friday – The Darshan starts from 9 AM till 7 PM in the evening and again from 8 PM till 1 AM the next morning.
Thursday – The Darshan starts early from 8 AM till 7 PM and then again from 8 PM till 1 AM the next morning.
VIP Darshan (Sheeghra Darshan) – It is for immediate Darshan. The ticket cost is Rs. 300 per person. Pilgrims can also make an advance booking on the official website at www.ttdsevaonline.com. This Darshan starts from 9 AM daily till 3 PM.
Pilgrims are can contact any one of the three counters present inside the temple premises.
Vaikuntha Queue Complex
Here, pilgrims will receive their respective Sudarshan bands at a minimal cost. These bands will inform the pilgrims of the time at which they can have the Darshan of God.
In this way, pilgrims do not have to wait in long queues. They can explore the Temple Complex area meanwhile. And they can report to the queue only when it is their turn to have the Darshan.
Tirumala Temple Dress Code
The Tirupati Balaji Temple Devasthanam administration introduced a dress code for men and women from 2013.
Men are required to wear traditional dhoti or pajama with a shirt or kurta. Women are required to wear either a saree or a Churidar pajama with a kurta.
Poojas and Sevas at Tirumala Tirupati Balaji Temple
Here is a list of all Poojas and Sevas at Tirupati Balaji Temple. We can divide them into three types: The Daily Sevas, the Weekly Sevas, and the Periodical Sevas.
Tirumala Daily Sevas
Suprabhatam – This Seva is done at 2:30 AM in the morning to wake the Lord from his sleep. After that, the priests carry the idol from Sayana Mandapam (sleeping place) to the Ananda Nilayam (main shrine). The ticket costs Rs. 200 per person.
Thomala Seva – This Seva starts at 3:30 AM and lasts for 30 minutes. Priests decorate the idols with garlands made of Tulsi and various flowers. Pilgrims can watch this only on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. The ticket price is Rs. 220 per person.
Venkateshwara Sahasranama Archana – This Archana starts at 4:15 AM. In this Pooja, devotees recite the 1008 names of Lord Vishnu. Priests also call the blessings in the names and Gothra of the pilgrims taking part in the pooja. Pilgrims can perform the Seva on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. The ticket price is Rs. 220 per person.
Ekantha Seva – It is the last Seva of the day and starts at 1:30 AM. The priests lay down the silver image on a golden cot in a sleeping position.
Tirumala Weekly Sevas
Vishesha Pooja on Mondays – This Pooja starts from 7:30 AM to 9 AM. Priests recite several stotras and perform an Abhisheka. Then, they place 14 Kalash in front of the deities. They consist of oil, milk, curd, rice, and holy water in them.
Ashtadala – Pada Padmaaradhana on Tuesdays – This Seva starts from 6:30 AM – 7:30 AM. Priests recite 108 names of the Lord Vishnu, each name accompanied by a Lotus flower. People also worship Goddess Lakshmi and Padmavathi and then a Ratha Aarti. The cost of the ticket is Rs. 2500 for 5 persons.
Sahasra Kalabhishekam on Wednesdays – The ritual starts from 6:30 AM till 8:30 AM. In this unique ritual, priests fill 1008 silver vessels, 8 Parivara vessels, and one gold vessel with various things. They place them in the main Mandapam. Devotees also recite various Pancha Suktas and Shanti Mantras. The ticket costs Rs. 5000 for 6 persons.
Tiruppuvada Seva on Thursdays – This Seva begins at 6:30 AM. Priests remove all the ornaments and flowers from the deity. Then, they dress the idol only in a Dhoti and an Uttareeyam. The cost is Rs. 5000 for 6 persons.
Srivari Abhishekam on Fridays – It starts at 4:30 AM – 6 AM. Priests give a bath to the deity in holy Ganga along with milk, ghee, sandal, and saffron. The ticket costs Rs. 750 per person.
The Periodical Sevas
Arjitha Kalyanotsavam Seva – The ritual signifies the marriage of Lord Venkateshwara with Goddess Lakshmi and Padmavathi. The ticket costs Rs. 1000 for 2 persons.
Arjitha Brahmotsavam – People worship Lord Venkateshwara with Goddess Lakshmi and Padmavathi. They also recite several stotrams in this ritual. The ticket costs Rs. 1000 for 5 persons.
Unjal Seva – The priests place the idols of the three deities on a swing against the backdrop of lamps. The ticket cost is Rs. 1000 for 5 persons.
Offerings and Donations at Tirupata Balaji
Hair Tonsuring (Mundan) – Devotees shave their heads and give the hairs as an offering to God. It signifies the sacrifice for their Lord.
Thula Bharam Seva – Under this Seva, a Thula (Weighing scale) is arranged. On one side, the devotee is seated whereas on the other side, an equivalent weight of offerings are made. It is ensured that both sides are at an equal level. The devotees then donate the offerings to the temple administration.
Payback of Kubera’s Loan – As per the legend, Lord Venkateshwara took a loan from Kubera for his wedding arrangements with Padmavathi. A large Hundi is present inside the temple complex where devotees offer money and gold to God. Devotees donate with the belief that he can pay back the loan to Kubera.
Tirumala Tirupati Balaji Temple Architecture.
Tirumala Tirupati Balaji Gopuram which is the top of the temple.
The temple follows the Dravidian style of architecture. The temple has three entrances leading to the main shrine (Ananda Nilayam).
First entrance – Mahadwara Gopuram with a brass door.
Second entrance – Nadimipadi Kavali with the silver entrance.
Third entrance – Bangaru Vakili with a golden door.
The main idol of the Lord is in a standing position on a platform called “Brahmasthana.” Goddess Lakshmi is present on the right and Goddess Padmavathi on the left. The Gopuram (the entrance tower) over the main sanctum is covered with a golden vase. An idol of Vimana Venkateshwara is also present on the top of it.
Priests can never displace the main idol of the Lord. Hence, small idols of several Gods are present in the sanctum to worship. They are Bhoga Srinivasa, Ugra Srinivasa, Koluvu Srinivasa, Sri Malayappan, and Sri Chakrathalvar. Sri Krishna, Sri Rama, Mata Sita, Lakshmana, Sugreeva are also present.
Tirumala Tirupati Balaji Temple Significance
The common belief is that the Lord appeared on the Venkatadri hill to save humankind from the ill effects of Kaliyuga. The idol here is worshipped since the beginning of the Kaliyuga. Therefore, people call this place as Kaliyuga Vaikuntam.
Most-Visited Place of Worship– Around 50,000 to 100,000 pilgrims daily (30 to 40 million people annually) visits this temple. On the day of the Brahmotsavam festival, the count increases to 500,000 pilgrims daily.
The Tirumala Tirupati Balaji Temple is one of the eight Vishnu Swayambhu Kshetras. The word Swayambhu means that Lord Vishnu himself has turned into a statue here rather than installed by someone.
Tirupati Balaji is also listed as 106th Divya Desam among the 108 Divya Desams of Lord Vishnu. It is the last earthly Desam of Lord Vishnu before he left earth for Vaikuntha.
It is believed that one can hear the sound of an ocean by pressing an ear at the idol of the Lord. Also, the temperature of the idol always remains too high even after bathing it with water and Chandan.
History of Tirumala Temple
Tirupati Balaji Temple is believed to have been built by King Thondaiman at the end of 8th century AD. He was the ruler of the Tamil ancient kingdom called Thondaimandala.
The temple also received patronage from several dynasties like the Pallavas (9th century), the Cholas (10th century) and highly from the Vijayanagara kingdom in the 14th century.
Krishnadevaraya of the Vijayanagara kingdom donated abundantly and renovated the temple periodically by adding new structures to it.
Legends of Tirumala Temple
Tirumala Tirupati Balaji Temple and its legends are mentioned in various historical manuscripts and also in various Puranas.
Legend of Lord Varaha Swamy
The legend says that Venkateshwara took the land of Tirumala hill from Varaha Swami. In return, Venkateshwara gave him a promise that he would be paid the first darshan.
Legend of Adishesha
Lord Vishnu gave a boon to Adisesha. The boon was that he would join the Venkatadri hills and become an abode of Lord Vishnu. Adisesha accepted and became Venkatadri.
Legend of Lakshmi and Padmavati
Lord Vishnu, incarnated as Srinivasa, met Padmavati in the forests during a hunt. They fell in love with each other. Later, they married each otherafter Akasa Raja’s approval. After six months of the marriage, Lakshmi returned to Vishnu in disbelief.
Festivals celebrated at Tirumala
Tirumala Brahmotsavam – This festival is celebrated for 9 days every year during the Tamil month of Purattasi (Sep/Oct). This festival attracts millions of pilgrims for nine days.
The deity is taken out in procession on different Vahanam every day like Shesha Vahanam and Singha Vahanam. By watching the parade, one gets the protection of Lord and Punya in life.
The last day is the Birth Star day of Lord Venkateshwara. The celebration ends with Dhvajavarohanam, lowering of the Garuda flag.
Teppotsavam – This festival is celebrated for five days in the month of Chaitra (March). The deities of Tirumala temple are taken for a ride in the Swami Pushkarini Tank.
Vasanthotsavam – This festival is celebrated for three days in March/April. King Achyutaraya introduced this festival to mark the beginning of the spring season.
Pavithrotsavam – The festival is celebrated for three days in the month of Shravan(July/August). The priests seek forgiveness from Lord Venkateshwara for all the mistakes committed knowingly or unknowingly while performing the daily rituals.
Jyesthabhshekam – The festival is celebrated in the month of Jyestha (June). Lord Venkateshwara appeared with a protective armor to fight against evil in Kaliyuga. On this day, people do Abhisheka and Poojas to that armor.
How to reach Tirumala Tirupati Balaji Temple?
By Air – The nearest airport is Tirupati Airport, at a distance of 40 km from the temple. Chennai is the second nearest international airport.
By Rail – The nearest railway station is Tirupati, 26 km away from Tirumala. The AP Sampark Kranti Express connects to Bhopal, Gwalior, and New Delhi.
By Road – Several direct buses are available from cities like Chennai, Bengaluru, and Vellore. Regular buses are available from Tirupati to Tirumala.
Where to stay nearby?
The Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam (TTD) has constructed several cottages and guest houses for the benefit of the pilgrims. These are-
Padmavathi Guest House
Sri Venkateshwara Guest House
Varaha Swamy Guest House
Besides the guest houses, they have also constructed several choultries for the free stay of pilgrims.
Explore Famous Places and Activities Near Tirumala Tirupati Balaji Temple
Varaha Swamy Temple – It is located at the banks of Swami Pushkarini near the Tirumala Temple. According to legend, Lord Varaha Swamy granted land to Lord Venkateswara to stay in the hill. In return, Lord Venkateswara promised the privilege of first Darshan to Varah Swamy.
Bedi Anjaneya Swamy Temple – This temple is located opposite to Tirupati Balaji Temple. As per the legend, young Lord Hanuman (Anjaneya) wanted to leave home in search of a camel. His mother Anjana Devi then tied his hands. The idol present here is also showing the hands of Hanuman tied.
Padmavathi Devi Temple – This temple is located 5 km away from Tirumala Temple in the town of Tiruchanoor. The presiding deity is Goddess Padmavathi, the wife of Lord Srinivasa. People also call this temple as Alamelumangapuram.
Prasanna Venkateshwara Swamy Temple – It is located 16 km from Tirupati. The uniqueness of the Temple is the presiding deity Venkateshwara who is in the “Abhaya Hasta” posture. This Temple is the marriage site of Srinivasa and Padmavathi.
Govindaraja Swami Temple – The temple is also located in Tirupati and was built by Ramanujacharya. The presiding deity Govindaraja was the elder brother of Venkateshwara. It is believed that worshiping him can result in better management of one’s finances.
Kapileswara Swamy Temple – This temple is also located in Tirupati. As per the legend, this is the place where Lord Shiva appeared before Maharishi Kapila. The Shiva Linga is believed to have been self-manifested here.
Kodanda Ramaswamy Temple – The Chola dynasty and Vijayanagara Empire built this temple. The presiding deities are Lord Rama, Goddess Sita, and Lord Lakshman.
Meghamalai is a cool and misty mountain range situated in the Western Ghats in Theni district, Tamil Nadu. It is a place of natural beauty dotted with cardamom plantations and tea estates. The place is situated at an elevation of 1,500 m above sea level and it is rich in flora and fauna. This area, now mostly planted with tea, includes Cloudlands, Highwavys, Venniar and Manalar estates, the access to which is now largely restricted. It still includes large untouched remnants of evergreen forest. Meghamalai forest area hosts a variety of birds, mammals, reptiles and butterflies. Resident and migratory elephants are common. Other animals sighted are tiger, leopard, Nilgiri tahr, gaur, spotted deer, barking deer, sambar deer, wild boar, porcupine, Nilgiri langur, lion-tailed macaque, common langur, bonnet macaque, sloth bear, grey junglefowl, smooth-coated otter and flying squirrel. Bird like red-whiskered bulbul, common iora, white-browed wagtail, grey wagtail, pied bush chat, Blyth’s reed warbler, barn swallow, spotted dove, Asian paradise flycatcher, brahminy kite, long-tailed shrike and over 100 species of birds have been identified. Highwavys is a view point that will afford a wonderful view of the entire mountains range of Varusanadu Hills. There few large private tea, spices and coffee plantations all around, notable include The Highwavys Estates owned by The Woodbriar Group, Ananda Plantations, Ponsiva Plantations and Feildmede Estate have the largest holdings of plantations in Meghamalai, an artificial lake and plenty of scope for making leisurely walks. Entire Meghamalai has very limited rooms to rent and therefore early reservation is a must.