Lord Sri Venkateswara, also known as Srinivasa, Balaji, and Veṅkaṭachalapati, made Tirumala his abode five thousand years ago. Even before him, it was Lord Varahaswami who had made Tirumala his abode. Since then, many devotees have continued to construct grand entrances on the ramparts of the temple over generations. The temple complex is spread over 16.2 acres of land.
In Tirumala, the East facing Sri Varahaswami temple is located in the North West corner of the temple tank – Swami Pushkarini. As per the temple legend, Lord Srinivasa sought a gift of land from Sri Varahaswami, which he readily granted.
In return, Srinivasa provided him with an agreement deed assuring that he would be paid the first darshan, worship and offerings by all the devotees visiting the temple. This tradition is in practise to this day at Tirumala and Lord Varahaswami continues to receive the age old traditional worship. Even today, all offerings are first made to Lord Varahaswami and then to Lord Sri Venkateswara.
The height of the main entrance has been increased periodically since 13th century. Its present height is fifty feet. This entrance has other names such as ‘Padivaakili’ and ‘Simhadwaram’.In Tamil it is called ‘Periya Thiruvasal’. On either side of this main entrance there are two feet high statues made of alloy metal (Pancha loha). They are Sankanidhi and Padmanidhi who are the guardians of ‘Navanidhi’, the treasure of Lord Sri Venkateswara.
The Maha Dwaram comprises three consecutive entrances – the first is a brass one, while the second is a silver one. The third entrance is a golden one.
These are the two angels guarding the wealth and treasure of Lord Sri Venkateswara. As per the tradition these are installed at the third entrance of the temple. One enters the holy shrine after saluting the first protection threshold – Sankha Nidhi and Padma Nidhi. According to history, these statues were consecrated by Vijayanagara emperor Achyutha Rayalu, the younger brother of Sri Krishna Deva Rayalu.
Abutting the Mahadwara and to its right, there is a high-rise mandapam (Porch). This is called Krishnadevarayalu Mandapam or Pratima Mandapam. This mandapam has been constructed in Vijayanagara architectural style. To the right side of this porch, one can find tall copper statues of the emperor of Vijayanagara kingdom, Sri Krishnadevarayalu and his two consorts, Tirumala Devi and Chinnadevi. These three statues placed in front of Lord Sri Venkateswara express their devotion to him. It is said that Sri Krishnadevarayalu himself installed these statues on 2nd January 1517 A.D. and then onwards this mandapam has become famous as the Krishnadevarayalu mandapam. Their names are inscribed on the shoulder badges of these statues.
By the left side of the main entrance or Mahadwaram there is a tall copper statue with folded hands. This is the statue of Venkatapatirayalu, the king of Chandragiri. He was a generous king who ruled Chandragiri during 1570s and donated many valuable gifts to the deity.
Twelve feet to the north of Sri Krishnadevarayalu Mandapam, there is a glass porch. Every day at 2 p.m., a service called”Dolotsavam” is performed for the Lord in this glass porch. Historical evidence proves that this seva programme began to be performed in 1831.
Just opposite to the glass porch, there is another high rise mandapam called Ranganayakula Mandapam. Due to the Muslim invasions between 1320 and 1369 A.D., the idols of Lord Ranganadha of Srirangapatnam were shifted to Tirumala for safe keeping. Daily prayers and poojas were offered to him in this Mandapam. After the cessation of the Muslim invasions, these statues were once again shifted back to Srirangam. Yet this place has retained the name of Ranganayakula Mandapam to this day.This mandapam is said to have been built by the king of Tirupathi, named Ranganadha Yadava Rayalu. It is in this mandapam that Kalyanothsavams were performed for the Lord. However, due to the increase in pilgrim rush, currently daily Kalyanothsavams are performed in Sampangi Pradakshinam.
Ten feet to the south of the flagstaff, there is another stone pillared pavilion called Tirumalaraya Mandapam. This was built by Saluvanarasimharayalu, the emperor of Vijayanagara, to express his gratitude to the Lord for the help extended towards his victories.