Location: Tirupati (Chitoor district), Andhra Pradesh
Altitude: 981 meters above the sea level
Lord Venkateswara is enshrined at a temple on the Tirumala Hills, which are part of the Eastern Ghats. The Tirumala Hills (also known as Saptagiri in Sanskrit) comprise of seven peaks – Seshadri, Neeladri, Garudadri, Anjanadri, Vrishabhadri, Narayanadri and Venkatadri, with the temple actually located on the seventh peak, Venkatadri.
Religion and Mythology
Lord Venkateswara or Balaji is considered to be an incarnation of Lord Vishnu. It is believed that he came to reside on the southern banks of Swami Pushkarini. The range of the Tirumala hills represents the body of Adi-sesha, the divine serpent on which Lord Vishnu and His consort Goddess Mahalakshmi rest. The seven hills are believed to represent the seven hoods of the serpent.
The Tirumala are also believed to be part of the sacred and celestial Meru Parvata. According to legends, a contest once arose between the Lord Vayu (Wind God) and Adi-sesha. Lord Vayu tried to blow out all the thousand peaks of the Meru Parvata, while Sesha tried to protect it with his hoods. Lord Vayu after sometime got exhausted and discontinued his blowing. Adisesha thinking that He had won the contest raised his hood, when Lord Vayu blew at the peak. One part of the peak fell at Tirupati forming the sacred Tirumala hills.
The vast expanse of area on the Tirumala hills is covered with lush green forests. The hills are in fact part of Sri Venkateswara National Park. Wild animals are said to roam freely in several parts. The area is also said to be rich in medicinal plants and herbs. The hill range is also dotted with several waterfalls including Jabali Theertham, Rama Theertam, Sesha Theertham, Bala Theertham, Papavinasam and Akash Ganga.
In recent years, large scale developmental activities in the region have caused denudation of the forests and the soil, leading to extinction of indigenous flora and fauna. The wildlife has also been severely affected by light and noise from the vehicles.