Monday 26 November 2012

Karnataka and the story of Tirupathi laddus

Did you know that there is a Karnataka connection to the world famous Tirpuathi laddus.
The ghee or butter in the mouth –watering laddus, which are a gastronomic delight, is supplied by the Karnataka Milk Federation (KMF) which owns and sells its products under the Nandini brand.
The KMF had participated in the tender process called by the Tirumala Tirupathi Devasthanams (TTD)  for supply of butter and it won the bid hands down. What weighed the tender in favour of the KMF was its buffer stocks of nearly 2500 tonnes of butter and the high quality standards it has set itself.
The KMF sends a tanker of butter every day to Tirupathi, almost all of which is used to make the laddus. These tankers carry about seven to eight tonnes of butter.
On its part, KMF produces 25,000 tonnes of ghee (butter) and the TTD is the largest buyer by a long distance. It picks up 100 tonnes of butter every day.
Apart from Tirpuathi, KMF also supplies its milk powder and its products, including ghee, to several other temples in and outside Karnataka and outlets and shops in Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh.
The coffee beverage chain, Coffee Day, sources its milk requirement from KMF. The coffee day outlets in Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh have Nandini milk. 
Today, the Nandini brand has established itself in the domestic market. It is the second largest selling mil and milk product brand in India after Amul.
The Kolar-Chikaballapur belt of Bangalore-Kolar  region produces 7,20,000 litres of milk every day and this is much in excess of the demand. It is this excess that allows KMF to maintain buffer stocks and also sell its products to TTD and other bulk consumers.
The cashew nuts, cardamom and other spices that go into the making of the laddu is sourced from the Spices Exchange in Kochi, Kerala.
All pilgrims who go to Tirupathi and visit the Balaji shrine get laddus when they exchange their tickets at the laddu counter. The laddus are also sold at a higher price in the counter.
The system of giving laddu prasad is only a recent appendage, dating back to the late 1930s.
Till the laddus made their entry as prasada, devotees were
contained rice powder mixed with wet jaggery or jaggery liquid.
The first time that laddus were given as prasada was in 1940.
The TTD management decided to make laddus like a hill (kondatha in Telugu) for some exclusive poojas such as Nitya Kalyana and Kalyanotsava. The laddus were initially prepared with sugar and offered to the deity and then handed over as prasada to those who had participated in certain exclusive rituals. They then cost just six paise.
The credit for the laddu prasada goes to a person called Kalyana Iyengar.
Devotees began appreciating the laddus and the demand for them picked up. The TTD then decided to go in for larger distribution of laddus and from 1943, the laddus were offered as prasada for Kalyanothsava.
The laddus were first distributed to all devotees only once a week, that is on Saturdays. This was modified to give lauds to devotees on all days. While those who participated in exclusive rituals were given big size laddus, regular devotes got only small laddus.
In the 1940s, the lauds were prepared by a handful of people belonging to the Mirasi Brahmin sect. This meant that only hereditary trustees of the temple could prepare the laddus.
 Later this system was replaced by constructing huge kitchens for preparing all prasdasa, including laddu, vada and the Mirasi was abolished. In the early days these kitchens used firewood for preparing prasada.
It was in 1984 that gas replaced firewood in the Tirupathi kitchens and over a period of time the kitchens have been mechanized and fully automated. Even the laddu making has been given a makeover.
The list of ingredients that is used every day to prepare the laddu is called Ditta. Nearly 2 lakhs laddus are prepared every day. The laddus for the Lord are prepared separately in the temple kitchen called Potu.
The laddu contains  butter, oil, besan flour , sugar, cashew nuts, cardamom,  raisins and almonds. Sugar is the biggest commodity used in the preparation.
Though the size of the laddu has reduced over the years, the taste has remained the same. No wonder, it is called the Srivari laddu.
The laddus now come the Geographical Indicator (GI) tag, which means that they are the exclusive patent of the Lord of Tirumala.  A petition was filed recently in a court against the GI tag which was dismissed.
Tirupathi is the most visited worship site of the world.  There is another first for Tirupthi. It is also the place where a person visits the temple again and again. It is also the only temple where rituals are booked years and months on advance.
Earlier, some branches of Vijaya Bank in Bangalore booked tickets for sevas at Tirupathi. This system has been discontinued now, though you can give sevas at the Vijaya Bank branch at Tirumala.
In Bangalore, you can get tickets for sevas and more information at the TTD office and temple at Vyalikaval. The laddus are distributed here on a specified day.   


  1. Interesting set of articles Ramesh!

  2. Ramesh,
    Just posted an article on laddus.

  3. super,

    good information.. lot of things to know

    1. Thank you, Mr. Venu for your kind words. It is such encouragement that keeps us going.

  4. Interesting & Every one to know, Thanks

    1. Thank you Mr. Srinivas. There is one more article on the Tirupathi prasada.