Discription of the temples of Tirumala – Date of the Temple

It is very difficult to determine the date of this temple. There is no direct evidence to help us in this con- nection and any attempt must therefore be based upon inference.
Inscriptions found in the temple only refer to its renovation and rebuilding and the addition of later structures and do not state when the original temple was built The earliest mention of Sri Venkatesvara in the epigraphs is in connection with a proxy temple, Tiruvilcmkoil, at Tiruchanur and not in association with the temple on Tirumala or Vengadam.
A renovation made in the 13th Century was so done as to preclude a view of the original sanctum. Thick stone walls were built so as to grip the older ones. It is not therefore possible to examine the outer side of original walls of the sanctum and estimate the date.
The Vaishnava Alvars, who flourished during the later Pallava period, sang hymns in praise of many Vishnu shrines in South India, They have sung about the image located at Vengadam but do not refer to its temple. Tirumalisai-alvar has said that the god can be seen from anywhere. If this statement is taken literally, it mplies that the image of Tiruvengadamudaiyan or Sri Venkatesvara was located in an open mantapa. Kulasekhara- alvar expressed that he wished to be the padi, pedastal, if only to enjoy seeing the coral lips erf die Lord. If this statement can be relied upon it may be inferred that by the time of this Alvar, there was an enclosing structure round the image. Kulasekhara is assigned to the 8th century A.D.
The earliest inscription found at Tirumala records the birth of a Bana prince, named Vijayaditya, who flourished during the first half of the 9th century A.D. The first mention of the temple on the hill is
to be found in an inscription assignable to 970A.D. in connection with the consecration of a silver image, named Mana- valappenuml. This inscription indicates the existence of the Garbhagriha and die Antarala at this time.
It may be concluded that a shrine with Garbhagriha and Antarala existed in the 8th Century A.D. at the latest. This may be the present sanctum and the Sayana-mantapam. But these two have been enclosed in the 13th century by parallel walls. It is certain that the outer side of the original walls of these two structures contain architectural decorations of the later Pallava period corresponding to those found on the outer side of the wallsof the Krishna temple, adjacent to the Govindarajasvami temple atTirupati. In all probability, the image of Sri Venkatesvara stood in open mantapa for a long time before the 8th century A,D.

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