One Deity and Two Idols. Here is the story of Dwaraka Tirumala.
Who needs an introduction about the infamous lord Balaji temple in Tirupathi? Devotees of lord Balaji from across the world flock to this temple all through the year. On the other hand, a very few people know about what's called as "Chinna Tirupathi" or "Dwaraka Tirumala". Well, it is believed that anyone who cannot make it to Tirumala Tirupathi to offer their prayers, tonsures etc. can visit Chinna Tirupathi or Dwaraka Tirumala and offer their prayers. It is considered that offering prayers at Dwaraka Tirumala stands equal to that at Pedda Tirupathi/Main Tirupathi.
Named After The Saint:
Amidst the amazing greenery spread by the river Godavari, 101 km from Vijayawada and 278 km from Visakhapatnam, there's a temple dedicated to lord Balaji. It is located on the top of the Seshachala Hill at Dwaraka Tirumala in the West Godavari district of Andhra Pradesh. A saint named Dwaraka identified and located a self-manifested idol of lord Balaji at this place and hence the place came to be known as Dwaraka Tirumala. In the 19th century, a temple was constructed by the Mylavaram Zamindars and it slowly became prominent by word of mouth.
One Deity and Two Idols:
An interesting aspect about this temple is that the principal deity of the temple has two idols under one Vimana Sikhara. One of them is what Saint Dwaraka has identified and the other is the one erected by Saint Ramanujacharya. Here is the story behind the two-idol concept.
The idol located by Saint Dwaraka was just a half statue, that means it only had the upper part of the Lord's body from above the waist. It had no feet. According to a legend, the holy feet of the lord were given to Bali Chakravarthy in Patala Loka for his daily worship. Thus, only the part of lord Balaji's body from above the waist is visible to the devotees. It is believed that the remaining part from below his waist is under the earth's crust.
However, revered saints and practitioners of Hindu Dharma opined that any ritual stands incomplete without worshipping lord's feet. Therefore, in the 11th century, distinguished saint and social reformer Shri Ramanujacharya came forward to erect the complete idol of Lord Balaji according to the doctrines mentioned in Vaikhanasa Agamam. This complete idol stands just at the back of the main idol located by Saint Dwaraka. On that account, two idols of lord Balaji are present in the same sanctum sanctorum of the temple. The idols of Maa Padmavathi and Devi Nanchari are present in the Arthamandapa.
The Magnificence Of South Indian Architecture And Culture:
Dwaraka Tirumala is a perfect blend of South Indian architecture, culture and workmanship. It is built on a hill that appears in the form of a serpent. The main Rajagopuram is 5-storied and faces south while three other gopurams face the other three directions.
Dwaraka Tirumala celebrates the most important festival, Tiru Kalyanotsavam twice a year - once for the self-manifested idol in the Telugu month of Vaisakha and once for the established idol in the month of Aswayuja. The temple celebrates with pomp, several major festivals like Swamy Vari Vysakha Kalyanam and Radhotsavam in April–May, Swamy Vari Aswayuja Kalyanam and Radhotsavam in September–October, Giripradakshina in January, Pavithrotsavams in September, Teppotsavam/ Boat Festival in Nrusimha Sagar Tank in November. All these festivals are lavish visual treats for the devotees, laying before them, the reflections of distinguished customs, traditions, culture and history specific to the place.
Undoubtedly, temples have so much to offer than just spiritual experience and awakening. They are enlightening, soothing and knowledge-giving at the same time. All we should do is take a closer look at them.