Hidden abode of the supreme lord

Sri Venkateshwara Balaji
The entrance to the Sri Venkateshwara Balaji Temple in the Vattipalli. Photos: Surya Sridhar

The city is home to many temples and mosques, but there exists one temple which only those familiar with the geography of the city would know about. The Sri Venkateshwara Balaji temple located on the road behind Falaknuma is believed to be over 600-years-old.

Sri Venkateshwara Balaji
The black stone idol of Lord Balaji inside the temple

According to the temple priest Bhargacharyulu, an ascetic named Rangaswamy lived here around 1435 AD. Around the same time, a young widow called Vatti from Basar, whose family was washed away in the flood of the Tungabhadra river sought refuge in another temple and was supported by a devotee of Swamy Ramanujayya there. During her time there, she learnt about the Vedas and became a devotee herself. In 1446 AD, she left the temple and found her way to Rangaswamy. Together they set out to give form to their dreams.

In 1463, Swamy Ramunujayya also joined them in their quest. Finally in 1465 AD, Vatti and Rangaswamy were both granted their wishes when Lord Balaji appeared on a rock behind a tamarind tree. It was Vatti’s wish that the area be known by her name which was granted by the lord. Hence the place came to be known as Vattipalli.

Many years after this, Swamy Ramanujayya was visited by a stroke-stricken small trader Venkaiah from Golkonda, who had been guided there by Lord Balaji himself. This trader Venkaiah was cured by Ramanujayya, and in reverence to the deity, he established a small temple for people to come and pray. The Svayambhu Balaji idol in the temple is the same one Rangaswamy saw behind the tamarind tree trunk when Balaji appeared to him. Ramanujayya handed over the charge of the temple to Venkatacharyulu, a Brahmin from the village. His eighth-generation descendent Bhargavacharyulu is the young priest at the temple today.

Spread over 2.5 acres of land, the Gopuram was covered under thick layers of lime plaster for quite some time until, a large chunk fell off in 2008. It took three months to remove the plaster from the Gopuram, revealing beautifully architectural work.

Sri Venkateshwara Balaji
The beautiful carvings on the gopuram. Photos: Surya Sridhar

The brother of Bhargavacharyulu’s great grandfather Ananta Charyulu, founded a ‘Panch Kriya’ hospital here, to cure patients using Ayurvedic principles. The remains of this hospital are still intact. In front of the courtyard, there is an old well and a few rooms to rest for the travellers. A huge rock surrounds all along the rear side of the temple.