Lord Venkateswara in City of Temples

Sunny Dua
World famous Hindu temple of Lord Venkateswara popularly known as Tirupati Balaji located in the hill town of Tirumala at Tirupati in Chittoor district of Andhra Pradesh (AP) is going to have its Srivari temple at village Majeen of Jammu district amid lush green surroundings and allied facilities including parking lots and facilities for priests and pilgrims. Located on a hillock and spread in an area of about 62.10 acres of land, the temple is going to be first of its kind built in Dravidian style with Chola’s architecture in the ‘City of Temples’ that’s going to make its presence felt in the region in quite an impressive manner.
Dedicated to Lord Venkateswara, a form of Lord Vishnu, who according to Hindu mythology has appeared to save mankind from troubles of Kali Yuga, the temple is being built in Jammu by Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams (TTD), the same organisation that manages Tirupati Tirumala temple in Andhra Pradesh and is being controlled by the AP government itself. The piece of land located on a hillock close to highway connecting Nagrota with Kunjwani bypass and overlooking river Tawi was allotted by the J&K Union Territory government to the TTD for the purpose.
Once completed, this temple will sync with the existing city temples that gave Jammu its name as ‘City of Temples’ but the Dravidian architecture will entirely be different from the existing ones and will give this Balaji Temple a unique feature. This mega project is likely to become the centre of attraction and the place of worship for domestic people, those South Indians putting up in Jammu in connection with their jobs besides pilgrims and tourists who visit Jammu and Kashmir. This is sure to get added to the tourists’ itinerary in months to come.
The workers, both skilled and unskilled, who are expert in temple constructions, have also been brought in from Andhra Pradesh and Tamilnadu who are working at the site tirelessly. To be constructed on war footing at a whooping cost of around Rs 17.5 crores the main temple is coming up on a 14,105 Square feet built up area at the site and is expected to be constructed with in a span of 18 months from the date of its foundation stone laying ceremony that was held last year. It’s likely to be completed by the end of Apr2023, work on which is going on at full swing at the site.
Sri Venkateswara Swamy Temple including inner prakaram with 3-storied Rajagopuram and Dwajasthambham at Jammu will have all added facilities including residential blocks for Pujaris, toilet blocks, staff quarters, offices, ornamental entrance arch, multipurpose shed for luggage and shoe keeping besides parking for vehicles and a green cover all round of temple having widened road stretch for the convenience of pilgrims and staff managing the temple affairs. About 500 Cu.M pre-carved granite stone blocks fetched from Kotappakonda, Palnadu, Andhra Pradesh are being transported from Andhra Pradesh (AP) to the temple site in Jammu through trucks. They are then assembled meticulously on a strong foundation that has come up at the site in a very short span.
Government of Jammu and Kashmir Union Territory had allotted site of 62.10 acres for construction of Sri Venkateswara Swamy Temple and other infrastructure facilities at Majeen, Jammu on March 31, 2021 and the site was formally taken over by the TTD on April 19, 2021 after which groundbreaking (Bhoomi Poojan) ceremony was performed and construction started at full swing.The construction of the Srivari temple at Jammu according to TTD Chairman Sri YV Subba Reddy during foundation stone ceremony was undertaken after the instructions of chief minister of AP YS Jaganmohan Reddy.
The Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams (TTD)Board has resolved to construct Srivari temples across the country as part of the protection of Hindu Sanatana Dharma and the one coming up at Jammu is also part of this mega project. According to reliable sources, the proposed Temple of Sri Venkateswara Swamy at Jammu will have a main temple with consorts of Sri Padmavahi and Sri Andal sub-temples. These Garbhalayams and Ardha Mandapam are proposed to be constructed with hard granite stone brought in from South India, to depict southern temple architecture.
Gabhalaya Vimanams at the temple have been proposed to be constructed with ornamental brick work and plastering, work on which is going on. Mukha mandapam is being constructed with Reinforced Cement Concrete (RCC) structure with Brick work ornamental features.Around the Prakaram there will be an entrance called Rajagopuram. The prakaram and Rajagopuram (entrance to the Hindu Temple) up to roof level will be constructed in hard granite stone and the superstructure of the Rajagopuram above roof will be that of ornamental brick work and plastering.
Lord Venkateswara, also known as Balaji, Govinda and Srinivasa is revered in highest esteem by the devotees and his original temple at Tirumala Hills is part of the Seshachalam Hills ranges which are 853 metres above sea level and comprises of seven peaks in Andhra Pradesh. This particular temple is located on the seventh peak and also constructed in Dravidian architecture somewhere around 300 AD by King Thondaiman, Tamil ruler of the ancient Thondaimandalam. Around fifty thousand to one lakh pilgrims visit this temple daily. This temple is also considered as the richest temple in the world in terms of donations received.
Once completed and thrown open for devotees, the Srivari Temple in Jammu will have main garbhalayam with trithala vimanam of size 12′-5″ X 12′-5″ X 33′-6 ½” where a finely carved 6 feet 4 inches high statue of Lord Venkateswara Swamy decked in gold, diamonds and silver ornaments will be installed. After that there will be an Ardhamandapam, Mukhamandapam with salaharam, Sri Padmavathi Ammavari garbhalayam with dwithala Vimanam, Sri Andal Ammavari garbhalayam with dwithala vimanam and Garudalayam with ekathala vimanam. There will also be about 33 feet high Dwajasthambam in the temple which will be visible from a far off distance.
As per the present construction status at the temple site, the main portion consisting of stone work has been completed up to roof level and the super structure of above roof portion in ornamental brick work has been completed up to Shikaram. The RCC framework of Mukhamandapam has been raised up to plinth level. Prakaram wall and entrance of Rajagopuram has been raised upto one meter in special class stone masonry and five meter in ornamental stone work respectively. The balance height of Prakaram wall stones are being carved at the location of the stones in Kotppakonda, Andhra Pradesh after which they will be transported at the site in Jammu.
The engineers and contractors working at the site are hopeful of completing the temple construction by April-2023 if weather conditions permit unobstructed flow of work as proposed. The work after proper tendering has been allotted to Sri Dasa Ravinder who has restored many historic buildings in South and also constructed new temples in stonework in Andhra Pradesh. The engineers from TDD are regularly monitoring the construction work at the site during their periodic visits to the site. Each and every detail is being checked at the site to ensure workmanship especially in stone work that’s going to be the main attraction of the temple façade.
The Jammu temple of Tirupati Balaji that’s coming up at Majeen at a cost of Rs 17.5 crore is having different components. Construction of Archaka quarters and dormitories in the premises of S.V.Temple at Jammu, Jammu & Kashmir (U.T) are coming up at an estimated cost of Rs Rs. 190.00 Lakhs, Construction of Toilet block for Archaka, TTD Staff and Pilgrims is also coming up at an estimated cost of Rs Rs. 34.00 lakhs, work on which is going on. In addition about Rs 10 crore will be spent on development of road and construction of main entrance arch.
The main temple will have 19-feet high stone work after which the main Shikharam will be about 40 feet high. The flooring inside the compound is being built of white granite brought in from Mudwakal areas of South India. Madavidhi, an outside area used for Parikrama will be 10 meters wide and after the temple construction retaining walls will also be constructed to stabilize the slopes. Interestingly, to get the same colour and texture of the stone, blocks ferried at the Jammu site are from a single quarry. The trucks involved in ferrying carved stones are taking four to five days to reach Jammu from Andhra Pradesh after which cranes are unloading stone blocks only to be assembled at the site.
The statues of Lord Sri Venkateswara Swamy, Padmavathi Ammavaru, Sri Andal Ammavaru, two numbers Vari Dwarapalakulu; Jaya and Vijaya, Sri Garudalwar Vigraham and Sri Vakulamatha Devi to be installed in the temple here are all being carved in granite with minutest of details at the site itself after which they will be brought to Jammu. Main statue of lord Vankeestwara sources said has been completed thirty percent and done in black granite. This is going to be a masterpiece which will then be formally installed inside the sanctum sanctorum of the temple with all rituals and prayers.
During the time of foundation stone laying ceremony it was revealed that in the first phase including temple, sub-temples, vahana mandapam, electricity and water supply. While in the second phase, Veda Pathashala at Rs. 5.50crores, Hostel and Medical buildings, Kalyana mandapam will be taken up. It is believed that pilgrimage tourism will get a fillip after Srivari temple will be thrown open for devotees.
Jammu and Kashmir Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha, Union Ministers Sri Kishen Reddy, Dr Jitendra Singh and TTD Board Member Sri Govinda Hari alongwith other officials were present at the time of foundation stone ceremony that was held with religious fervour.The construction of the Srivari temple was started with pooja performed as per tradition that was followed by Ganapathi Puja, Viswaksena Puja, Punyahavachanam, Agnipratistha and Vastu Homam.The sacred kalasams were especially brought to Yagashala by TTD Chairman YV Subba Reddy and EO Dr KS Jawahar Reddy and they performed Abhishekam to the stone kept in the construction area.
Before taking up the construction work the TDD officials had also performed Silanyasa Puja, Chaturveda Parayanam, Navagraha Stotra Parayanam, Maha Vishnu Puja and then the stone was consecrated in the ground and special puja was performed.There is a great legend behind this incarnation of Lord Vishnu whose temple at Tirupati is thronged by millions of devotees every year and now a Srivari temple is coming up at a picturesque location in Jammu.
It is said that once one of the Saptarishis Sage Bhrigu in search of a God for Yagya and performing rituals reached Lord Vishnu and on seeing him sleeping on Adishesha where Lakshmi was at his feet kicked Vishnu on his chest awakening him. Vishnu started massaging Bhrigu’s feet and served him with great hospitality to calm him down. However, Goddess Lakshmi felt that Bhrigu insulted her indirectly by hitting Vishnu on his chest where Sri (another name of Goddess Lakshmi) lived and thus left Vaikunthanly to settle on earth in the ancient city of Karvir (Kolhapur) where the Mahalakshmi temple is situated today.
Lord Vishnu soon arrived on earth searching for Goddess Lakshmi but failed to locate her after which he settled on Seshachalam hills inside an anthill. Thus, Lord Vishnu reached the place of pilgrimage of Lord Varaha Swamy in Tirupati, Tirumala. As per Puranas, Tirumala is also regarded as Adivaraha Kshetra. After killing Hiranyaksha, Varaha resided on this hill. Many devotees who pay their obeisance at Tirupati Tirumala get their heads tonsured as “Mokku”, an offering to God. The daily amount of hair collected is over a ton. The hair is collected and is sold internationally creating a substantial profit for the temple.
It is said that over 433 festivals are observed in 365 days of a year at this temple where Sri Venkateswara Brahmotsavams, a nine-day event, is also celebrated every year during the month of October. Lord Sri Venkateswara, also known as Srinivasa, Balaji, and Vekaachalapati had made Tirumala his abode about five thousand years ago and before that it was Lord Varahaswami who resided here which is why the temple management is building more such temples to ensure that devotees could pay their obisenace conveniently at every place.