Among the most popular global pilgrimage places, Tirupati, in Andhra Pradesh, is a stopover for those seeking spirituality and sanctity. Situated at the foot of Tirumala Hills, this lively pilgrim place attracts devotees all year round. Tirupati Balaji or the Lord Venkatesha Temple is the main attraction here. Said to be one of the richest temples in the country, it sees an estimated footfall of 60,000 every day. Devotees donate their hair and various riches in the temple in order to please the god.

Though the temple is an overwhelming presence in the town, Tirupati also houses one of the oldest and the rarest geological formations in the world – a natural stone arch. Lying in close proximity to the temple, the stone arch or Sila Thoranam (garland or festoon of rocks) has been categorised as Precambrian and is believed to be 1,500 million years old!

Tirupati has been ruled by various kingdoms such as the Pallavas around the 9th century, Cholas in the 10th century, and Vijayanagara between the 14th and 15th centuries. It is believed that the rituals in this temple town were formulated by Shri Ramanujacharya, a Hindu theologian and philosopher, in the 11th century.

The Tirumala Hills, which is a group of seven hills namely, Seshadri, Vedadri, Garudadri, Anjanadri, Vrishabadri, Narayanadri and Venkatadri, add to the beauty of the town. When viewed from the top, these hills appear to be in the form of a coiled serpent. It is believed that they were once the resting place of Lord Vishnu.