Special story – Ananda Nilaya gopuram – a class by itself
Srivari Temple (TIRUMALA) .September 30: The darshan of gold plated three storey gopuram (tower)above the divine idol of Lord Venkateswara in the Srivari Temple popularly known as Ananda Nilaya Vimanam is considered as divine as that of Lord Venkateswara himself .
A hundred years ago the pilgrims who came to Tirumala satisfied themselves with the darshan of the Ananda Nilaya Gopuram whenever the temple was closed for the day .In those days the temple in the thick of forests opened in morning and closed in evening .
There was a proposal in the TTD last year to provide stair cases and a platform to provide ‘ Vimana Venkateswara Darshanam ‘ for those who could not wait for their turn in ques for darshan of Venkateswara swamy.
What is the gopuram
The Ananda Nilayam Gopuram is also comparable to the waist and navel of the lord Venkateswara which has become the abode of the consorts Sri Devi and Bhudevi .
The 65.2 feet tall Ananda Nilayam gopuram is rectacular upto a height of 27.4 feet and later is in circular module with a huge basement of about 15-20 feet
The first floor of 10.9 feet in rectangular format does not have anystatues but onlygreen vines, and leafy environment .The second floor of the reactangular gopuram of 10.9 feet has nearly 40 idols perched on four sides . The gold idol of the Venkateswara swami on the north-east side of the gopuram with a silver arch around it is the Vimana Venkteswaraswamy.
The third floor of the gopuram of 16.3 feet has nearly 20 idols, mostly in gold in various avatars of the Hindu Vaishnava Mythology. There are eight golden idols of Lions on all the sides.
The last region of five feet to the top level of Kalasam on the gopuram is decked up with golden leafs, vines, swans and birds.
Legend of Ananda Nilayam:
The first phase of the gopuram was built in 839 by the Pallava king Vijayadanti Vikrama Varma who also provided gold plating for it . It was completed in 1262 by the Pandyan king Sundara Pandya Jata Varma . in 1359 the Saluva king Mangideva Maharaju installed a new gold kalasam on the gopuram . in 1417 the Minister Chandragiri Malla of Vijayanagara Kingdom rejuvenated the Ananda Nilaya gopuram as part of various construction of mandapams in the complex.
It was during the reign of Sri Krishnadeva Raya between 1513-1521 that the Srivari temple was completed refurbished with gold vessels, plates and ornaments including a huge crown and necklaces of various shapes and sizes . History says that by spending 30,000 gold coins Sri Krishna deva raya gave another gold coating to the Ananda Nlayam .
Lastly in 1908, the Mahant Ramalakshman Das reinstalled a golden Kalasam .In the year 1958 a ten day mega event was held from August 18-27 th,the Ananda Nilayam vimanam was refurbished and reworked with more idols, decorative elements etc. as part of the Maha-samprokshanam
The concept of Vimana Venkateswara Darshanam has been defended by the Srivari temple chief priest Sri AV Ramana Dikshitulu .Quoting temple legends like Venkatachala Mahatyam, Vimanarchana Kalpam the Vimana Venkateswara he said Lord Venkateswara landed on Earth in Kaliyuga as Swayambhu with his two consorts, Sri Devi and Bhu Devi in “Tridala Vimanam” .The temple priests offer the first prayers of the day to Sri Vimana Venkateswara before awakening the presiding deity of Lord Venkateswara inside the sanctum sanctorum he added.