Alipiri-The path way to Tirumala

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Alipiri

The pathway leading to the hill shrine of Tirumnala starts from ‘Alipiri’, Tirupati. It is called ‘Adipadi’ meaning the steps at the bottom. The word is in vogue in both Telugu and Tamil. After the advent of motor facility in twentieth century, a motor road was opened in 1945. This facilitated two way traffic, was used between Tirupati and Tirumala. In 1972 another metal road was constructed and opened for one way uptraffic to Tirumala. The old one was
commissioned to reach Tirupati from Tirumala. All the three ways begin from Alipiri, which can be reached by road from Chennai, Bangalore,Kadapa.

A pilgrim facility center has been established here. Parking space for vehicles, Bus Station and Rest house have been provided here. Padala Mandapam (a small shrine for Sri Venkateswara Swamy Temple to enthuse and bless the devotees who tread the pathway to Tirumala) is at the bottom of the hills from where the step-way begins. A newly renovated Temple housing Lord Lakshmi Narayana is also here to facilitate pilgrims to offer prayers. The first Idol one will see at Alipiri is of ‘Garuda’ standing in ‘Anjali Hastha’ pose. Behind this the arch of Alipiri for vehicles. In between there is a pilon celebrating the 75th year (Diamond Jubilee) of T.T.D. Board of trustees. All arches facing towards east. In the south towards Ruia hospital, the statue of ‘Kannada Haridasa – Purandaradasa’ invites devotees to ascend the hills. The pilgrim on foot has to pass through an underground passage beneath this Vigraha (statue) of Purandaradasa to reach Padala Mandapam. There are mandapas on both sides of the gateway. To the right of this Padala Mandapam, after the connecting steps to the main tower ‘Pedda Gopuram’ is the newly renovated Temple, wherein Lord Lakshmi Narayana Swamy has been installed anew. One has to ascend the steps in-between to reach the big gopuram, which invites devotees to ascend the hills. On the way up one can rest at various mandapams and find Shanku, Chakra, Namam gopuram at the end of the horizon. In front of Padala Mandapam, on the floor, one can see byan embossed figure of a man. Now, a glass protective cage is set on this Moorthy. An epigraph in Tamil and Telugu, dating back to 1623 A.D. can be found on this stone slab. (It is the image of Lakumaiah, son of Kolala Kondaiah who was the overseer of the charities of Matla Kumara Anantharaja, though the reading of the inscription is wanting in some places. The Lakshmi Narayana Swamy temple is in the East of Padala mandapam, facing towards west. It is a big Temple with all the characteristic features of a full fledged Temple. There is a big open space inside the tall and heavy Prakara walls. In this open space, there are two small shrines facing one another, that of Perialwar and his daughter Andal. As such the entire Temple is recognised as Perialwar Temple. There is a vast mukha mandapam beyond these two Upa Aalayas (temples).

A narrow Antarala leading to Sukanas and Sanctum Sanctorum where Lord Lakshmi Narayana Swamy majestically dwells can be seen. Originally this Temple was dedicated to Lakshmi Narasimha, built by Saluva Narasimha Raya in 1483 A.D(April 20). This has been established in the inscription on the outer wall of the mukha mandapam to the south at a height of 6-7 feet (a switchboard is there obscuring the worn out inscription.), but the place of the inscription is listed as “on the East wall, outer side south of the entrance in Perialwar’s ruined temple at Alipiri,  foot of the hills of Tirupati. To recognise this Temple as Perialwar’s temple, is a bit far from reason (Perialwar’s temple must have been constructed
by Tallapaka clan of poets at Pedda Chimugu-big waterfalls, near Kapila Theertham. This is only a name nowadays that too in the inscriptions of Tallapaka poets.

This was a temple constructed by Saluva Narasimha Raya dedicated to Lakshmi Narasimha has been corroborated by another inscription on the outer entrance of the same temple facing south. The inscription describes the stone stepped well constructed by Karaivetti puli Alwar, (A.D.1490 Jan.25.) in Grantha lipi Tamil language. The place of this well is – to the south of Lakshmi Narasimha Swamy temple and the big gopuram-periya gopuram listed as the charity Saluva Narasimha Raya. (one can see this well at Alipiri behind luggage counter-the north of the road leading to the security checking point at Alipiri).The big tower in front of the hills at Alipiri was ruined in 1929. A big bolt from the blue stuck and bisected the tall tower vertically and the left and right sides stood supporting one another. The pilgrims used to go around avoiding it to reach the stepped pathway. This tower was renovated in 1978 and opened to pedestrians. The Padala mandapam has an inner perambulatory pathway, is covered on three sides. It is believed that the lord comes down every night to visit Alamelumanga who is enshrined in Tiruchanur and leaves his slippers here. (the famous Telugu song – ‘Nadireyi ey Jamulo‘ -aptly describes this legend of Lord visiting Tiruchanur Tayaru.) Devotees willing to take a trek along the footpath take the sandals of the Lord kept in the temple and circumambulate the Garbhagriha.

Apart from this legend, there is some history also recorded in this mandapam. An epigraph in Tamil (on the western outer wall) and in Telugu (Eastern outer wall) in seesamalika meter, in Sanskrit language had been engraved here. This is of Matla Kumara  Anantharaya of Devachoda clan. He ruled Mati and was a good ruler. His valor and achievements and his charities to various temples, Kainkaryam to different Deities have been enumerated in  detail. He was the son of Tiruvengalanatha and Chennamamba (Chennamamba Garbha Shukti Mukta Phalam). He ruled between 1600-1656 A.D., He built the Padala mandapam here, according to the inscription. The date of this epigraph is 1628A.D. (This confirms the other inscriptions of kolala kondaiah and his son lakumaiah’s death recorded in 1523) Matla Kumara Anantharaja is the author of the outer big tower of Govindaraja Swamy temple at Tirupati. The first tower at Alipiri is attributed to Saluva Narasimha Raya. Second (middle one) and third towers (the topmost tower – Galigopuram or Namalagopuram) were built by Matla Kumara Anantharaja. Govindarajaswamy temple tower and the middle tower at Alipiri have the sculptures of Tiruvengalanatha and Chennamamba, father and mother of Anantharaja. Their names were inscribed in Telugu and Tamil.

The pathway which was used before might have been of a rough hue and chise led here and there. This Prince constructed it afresh using cut stones and it went up to agra gopura-
namalagopuram – (This Gali gopuram was renovated in 21st century).

After Namala Gopuram pilgrim enters somewhat plain land for a mile or two. Here some tombs of some saints are seen. Pilgrims come to Throva Narasimha Swamy temple. Though
the legend attributes to puranic age, the building is a new one not going beyond 19th century. In the ancient times the path descended into Avva Charikona. Then the pilgrims used to climb all the way up from the bottom of the kona-ravine-which opens to Mangalam near Renigunta. (in this ravenous pathway a watershed was also established during Vijayanagar period.) From this ground level the hills become steeper than the front one, that is from Alipiri to Namalagopuram. Hence in those days, the frontal height was called ‘Chitti ekkudu’ (sirrettum) and the other one was known as ‘Pedda ekkudu’ (perietrum). When the metal road was constructed for vehicular traffic, a bridge was formed by joining the two distant hills and the ascent became tolerable. On the way up this second ascent a small shrine of Throva Bashyakarlu invites devotees to rest and to meditate. The word Throva Bhashyakarlu can be interpreted in two ways. Bhashyakarlu is the epithet used to name Bhagavad Ramanuja, as such the shrine is of Ramanujacharya. The one who explains the way to reach the temple is Throva Bhashyakarla. Here the steps were built by a Swamiji of Ahobila Mutt according to Guruparampara as quoted by ‘Sadhu Subrahmanya Sastry’ in his ‘Report on TTD inscriptions’. Watersheds and rest mandapams can be found all along the way. The statues of Tamil Alwars (ten in all) have been established all along the way. Two sculptures are to be mentioned while speaking about the pathway to Tirumala. One is of potter bhima-Kuruvarati Nambi-who used to supply earthenware to Tirumala temple. He and his family (wife and children along with Kulalachakra, earthen heep) is to be seen embossed beautifully on a stone slab (unfortunately thrown away) after 400steps near the second tower. The other image is of ‘Gajendra lalana Srinivasa’. This is the Kainkaryam of Matla Kumara Anantharaja, as mentioned in his inscription. Gajendra mokshais an episode of Bhagavata, but this Gajendra lalana Srinivasa is connected to the story of Padmavathi Srinivasa. This image is sheltered in small enclosure.

Now-a-days who walk in this pathway will be given a Divyadarshan token to join in the Divyadarshan que for free Darshan of Lord Venkateswara Swamy. but, at present the Divyadarshan token tickets number was decreased by the T.T.D., due to heavy influx of pilgrims. Anyway, pilgrims coming through both the foot path ways will enter in the Sarvadarshan Q-lines. Visit Lord Venkateswara Swamy in Tirumala through these foot path ways and be blessed by the Lord.

Alipiri Mettu

Total Steps : 3550

Distance: 9 KM

Alipiri is 5 KM away from Tirupati Bus Stand.

Will be Opened 24 x 7.

Divya Darshan Tokens will be given at Gali Gopuram 2.

TTD Free buses will be available from Tirupati Railway Station / Srinivasam Complex.

Toilet facilities will be available on the way.

Various food stalls will be available on the way.

Pilgrims can utilize the free luggage  transport counter at the starting of Alipiri Mettu. TTD will transport your luggage before you reach Tirumala.

Parking is available in Zoo park road beside the Alipiri Mettu starting point.

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