Wednesday 10 April 2013

Neither Dwaraka, nor Tirumala

This is neither the Dwaraka of Krishna nor the Tirumala of Srinivasa. Yet, its name is a combination of  both and it is called  Dwaraka Tirumala.
The temple town of Dwaraka Tirumala was not as famous as the Srinivasa of Tirumala, Krishna of Dwaraka but it is only in recent years that it has gained fame. However, it is not all that well-known outside Andhra Pradesh. It is only in the last few years that this place has attained fame as Chinna Tirupathi.
This pilgrimage centre is called Dwaraka Tirumala after the great saint, Dwaraka, who managed to locate the self manifested idol of  Venkateshwara  in a Valmiki or ant hill.
The devotees revere the place as Kaliyuga Vaikunta Vasa or Chinna Tirupati. They find this is a suitable and appropriate alternative if they are not able to go to Tirupathi and offer prayers there.
The Dwaraka Tirumala is an ancient temple. The Puranas say that though the temple is several yugas old, it is popular even in Kruta yuga and it still attracts devotees.
There is an interesting legend about the origin of the temple.  According to Brahma Purana, Aja Maharaja, the father of Dasaratha and grandfather of Rama worshiped Venkateswara here as he wanted to get a suitable bride.
He came across the Venkateshwara idol here as he was on his way to the Swayamvara of Indumati. However, he did not offer prayers in the temple. When he attended the Swayamwara, Indumati garlanded him and chose him as her husband.
Aja then had to face the wrath of other kings who had vied for Indumathi’s hand in the Swayamwara. His battles with the Kings made him realise that he had erred by not performing pooja to Venkateshwara.
Aja then prayed for forgiveness from Venkateshwara. The Kings as suddenly stopped the battle as they had begun it.
The temple here is unique as this is the only place where you see two idols of Venkateshwara. Both the idols are under a single Vimana Sikhara.
One idol is a full and complete statue of Venkateshwara. The other is a half statue of the upper portion of the form of the Lord. The upper potion of the form is the self-manifested idol located here by Sage Dwaraka.
Dwaraka and other saints prayed to Venkateshwara saying that no worship would be complete without pooja for the full idol. They said the feet of Venkateshwara would have to washed and worshipped to attain salvation. But they were unable to discharge these functions as the idol was half buried in earth.
The saints then together consecrated a full statue of Venkateshwara and installed it behind the self-manifested idol.
The worship of the full statue is according to the rituals and customs set out in Vaikhanasa Agama. There is a belief today that prayers to the smaller statue or self manifested idol will lead to Moksha, while praying to the full statue will help us in Dharma, Artha and Kama.
Another unique feature of the temple is Tiru kalyanotsavam which is celebrated twice a year. If the first Kalyanoysava is for the self manifested idol in the month of “Vaisakha”, the second is in the month of Aswayuja for the full statue.
It is really amazing to see the two idols beneath the sanctum sanctorum. The priest told me that the self manifested idol has its feet in the earth as Bali is worshipping Venkateshwara’s feet every day at Patala loka.
He told me that the full size idol standing at the back of the main idol was installed by Ramanujacharya, the great Srivaishnava saint philosopher.
The idols of Padmavathi and Nanchari are installed in the Arthamandapa and they face east.
The hill on which the temple is situated looks like a serpent.
The Vimana, Mantapa, Gopura, Prakara and several other structures of the temple were built by Appa Rao (1762 – 1827) and the gold ornaments and silver vahanas were donated to the temple by his wife Queen Chinnamma Rao of Mylavaram.
The main temple is a masterpiece with its five-storied Rajagopuram facing the south and three other gopurams on the other three sides. The Vimana is in the Nagara style and the ancient Mukhamantapa has been extended.
There are several small temples of Alwars attached to the Prakara on all sides.
Pooja is from 9 a.m, to 12 noon.
Dwaraka Tirumala is also called Pedda Tirumala and devotees who are unable to visit Tirupathi can visit this shrine for fulfilling their vows.
The town is in West Godavari district and it is 40 kms from Eluru.
The nearest train junction is Bhimadole which is located on the  Vijayawada and Rajamundry state highway and on the Vijayawada-Vizag main railway line

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