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Tirupati: Non-Hindu Visitors Now on Need to File Declaration on Faith
from Prasanna Bhat
Tirupati: This city is famous for the temple of Lord Shri Venkateshwara, which is located in the town of Tirupati Tirumala hills.
It is believed to have a history of over twelve centuries. The Tirumala Hill is 3200 metres above sea level and made of seven peaks, representing the seven hoods of Adishesha, and hence the name Sheshachalam.
The seven peaks are Seshadri, Neeladri, Garudadri, Anjanadri, Vrishabhadri, Narayanadri and Venkatadri. Shri Venkateshwara temple is located on the seventh peak Venkatadri (Venkata Hill). The name Tirupati, meaning the ‘Lord of Lakshmi, properly belongs to the village on the Venkata Hill, the abode of the Lord.
However, it now indicates the city’s municipal foot of the hill, while the region around the hill is called Tirumala (the sacred hill). Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam (TTD) is in charge of managing the twelve temples and their sub-shrines in the Tirumala Tirupati area.
The temple attracts thousands of visitors every day, right through the year. Tourists and foreigners too are among them. However, there is a feeling around that a new rule which is to come into force from Monday, August 13, 2012 might affect the number of tourists and visitors in future.
Visitors to the Venkateshwara temple, belonging to faiths other than Hinduism, will have to sign on a declaration form before entering the precincts. In the declaration, they have vouch for their faith in the presiding deity, Lord Shri Venkateshwara.
The form will be in triplicate, TTD joint executive officer K S Srinivasa Raju said. The signatory will get a copy and the other two would go to the files of the temple office for their records. The forms would be made available at all sub-enquiry offices, besides the Vaikuntham queue complex and the junior executive officer's premises.
A few regular visitors have expressed an apprehension that this could deprive people from other faiths of enjoying the serene atmosphere and scenic beauty of the place. While some thought it was a step to keep tab on the antecedents of the visitors, some others wondered whether it would not lead to registration of fake identities.
It is generally thought that a good number of non-Hindus are likely to come to know of the rule only on arrival here, after spending money and time on travel. The tourism may also suffer, felt many devotees.
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