The Way of Andhra Life
It wont be wrong to say that Andhra Pradesh is more visited by pilgrims, than by tourists. And most of the tourists who come to the state, are here to explore the many magnificent temples. Andhra Pradesh is home to the richest and second most visited religious place in the world. Just like temples in other South Indian states, temples of Andhra Pradesh are also magnificent in architecture and exquisite to look at. Though Lord Venkateshwara Temple in Tirupati is the most prominent religious place in the state, there are many other places as well that are hugely famous among pilgrims. Amaravati on the banks of River Krishna is an important pilgrim destination for both Hindus as well as Buddhists. Lord Amareswara Temple makes it a must visit for Hindus and one of the oldest Buddhist sites makes it appealing to Buddhist pilgrims. Here you will find the largest Buddhist stupa in India. Srisailam is a major place of worship as it is home to one of the twelve Jyotirlingas. Being among the most ancient temples in South India, it is a temple revered by both Hindus and Buddhists. Hyderabad is a state that is dominated by Muslim population, so you will find many places important to Muslims. The most important without a doubt is the Mecca Masjid which is situated quite close to the famous Charminar.
Lord Venkateswara Temple, Tirupati
Lord Venkateswara Temple in Tirupati requires no introduction to any Hindu in any part of the world. Situated on Tirumala Hill, 10 Km away from Tirupati, the temple is the second most visited worshiping place after The Vatican. The temple is dedicated to Lord Venkateswara and according to the legends, the idol of Lord Vishnu is self manifested. The temple is the richest religious place in the world by the virtue of offerings and gifts presented by millions of pilgrims visiting the temple.
Birla Temple, Hyderabad
Dedicated to Lord Venkateshwara, Birla Temple in Hyderabad is one of the most visited temples in Andhra Pradesh. Built by the famous industrialist Birlas, it is completely built of marble brought from Rajasthan. It is situated on a hill known as Kala Pahad and is close to other attractions of the city like the Hussain Sagar Lake and overlooks Tankbund. The best time to get a look of the temple is during the late evening when it is completely illuminated. If you have been to temples of South India and North India, then you will notice the amalgamation of the styles employed in North India temples and South India temples. The inner shrine in the temple is an exact replica of that in Tirupati Temple. See the beautiful carvings on the temple which are also engraved with verses from Ramayana.
Amaravati is important to both Hindus and Buddhists as there are places that are worshiped by people of both religions. There is a huge temple dedicated to Lord Shiva apart from many beautiful Buddhist sculptures. Situated by the banks of River Krishna, the place is considered sacred and is said to have 'sthalamahatyam'. The main deities of the temple here are Lord Amareswara and his consort Goddess Bala Chamundika. Lord Shiva here is the form of Five Lingas named as Pranaveswara, Agasteswara, Kosaleswara, Someswara, and Parthiveswara. The architecture of the temple is in Dravidian style and has a 15 feet high Shivalingam covered by well carved gopurams and 'Vimana'. Amaravati is also one of the oldest Buddhist site in India and has the largest Stupa in India.
Mecca Masjid, Hyderabad
Situated just few yards southwest of Charminar, Mecca Masjid is among the most revered site for Muslims in Andhra Pradesh. The mosque is named Mecca Masjid, because the bricks for building the central arch were brought from Mecca. The construction of the Mosque was started by the Qutb Shahis in 1617, but they could not finish the building. It was later completed in the year 1694 by Aurangazeb. It is considered sacred because it houses many religious relics along with a hair of Prophet Mohammad. The main attraction of the mosque is the grand main hall that is 75 feet high, 220 feet wide, and 180 feet long. There are 15 arches overall with 5 on each side. On the southern side of the mosque,there are the marble graves of Nizam Ali Khan and the families of Asaf Jahi dynasty.
Many of the pilgrims flock to Andhra Pradesh to visit the most famous Hindu temple in the world, Lord Venkateshwara Temple in Tirupati to get his blessings, but what they get here is much more than just his blessings. The trip to Andhra Pradesh turns out to be a soul searching experience for some and search of divine for many.