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Vimanam of Tirupati Venkateswara Temple – About Golden Ananda Nilaya Vimana at Tirumala

In Tirumala Tirupati Venkateswara Temple, the second among the 108 Divya Desams, Lord Balaji is stationed in the sanctum sanctorum called Ananda Nilaya Vimana. The word Vimanam means to house the murti of the Supreme Being. It must be noted here that Vimanam is different from Gopuram. In the word “Vimanam”, the alphabet ‘ma’ means an object, which is measured or made in various ways. The prefix ‘vi’ denotes “vishesha” which signifies the image. So, the word itself, from its etymological aspects carries a noble and elevating significance. Several Puranas have umpteen references to Vimana with different meanings.

Reference of Tirupati Venkateswara Temple in Puranas

Padma Purana, chapter 10, it is described that, the appearance of a new and unblemished Vimana which gladdens the hearts of the viewers, on the western side of the sacred tank.

Vamana Purana Chapter 40/21, there is an account of Brahma and other gods having obtained a view of the deity in the divine Vimana of this temple. On that occasion, Vishnu is said to have appeared to human beings as the image of Srinivasa in the Sanctum built by man. Ananda Nilaya Vimana indicates the abode of Mulavirat of the sacred seven hills.

Vamana Purana makes a reference that on the banks of Swami Pushkarani, great sages headed by Agasthya along with King Sanaka, visualised the Lord when he manifested himself in his divine Ananda Nilaya Vimana, which was conical, studded with precious stones and decked with garlands of pearls.

In Vamana Purana, Agastya says that in the Kali Yuga, a holy Vimanam, which will destroy all sins of viewers, which by its auspicious nature will gladden the hearts of all viewers, which will be worshipped by celestial beings, gandharvas etc., which will have unique good features, in which the Lord will be ever resident, is going to be designed and constructed by the devotees of Vishnu.

It is clear that the Vimana was directly transported from the world of Bliss i.e. Sri Vaikunta
It is said that Thondaman Chakravarti, King of Thondamandalam area ordered to build Lord Srinivasa Temple and a Vimana as described in Bhavishyottara purana. Even in Tiruvenkata Puranam eleventh chapter the same was told in Tamil.

About Golden Ananda Nilaya Vimana at Tirumala

Holiness and Spiritual Importance of Tirumala Vimana

It is also the abode of Ananda - the blissful Supreme being in archa form, the Vimana over the abode of Sri Srinivasa was named Ananda Nilaya Vimana.

Even in the Ashtotharam of Sri Venkateswara, it is said: Om Vaikuntaagatha Sadhema vimaana antargataaya Namaha!! 

It is also said that Vimana was created by the Supreme being Himself out of his own Maya as stated: Om Maayaa gooda Vimaanaaya Namaha!!

Sri Ramanujacharya and Vimanam of Tirupati Venkateswara Temple

According to the most authentic source of Tirumala rituals, Tirumalai Ozhugu, in one of the three visits of Sri Ramanujacharya set aside the disputes about “Who the God is?” and confirmed with indisputable facts that the Lord on Seven Hills is Lord Narayana only.

During that time Sri Ramanujacharya consecrated the deity by adorning Mulavirat with Conch and Discus and performed a full scale Samprokshanam as per the rules of Vaikhanasa Agama by installing the images of Varaha, Narasimha, Vaikunta natha and Srinivasa on four sides of the Vimana. In Tirumala, Lord Narasimha is housed in the north of Swami Pushkarani. With a view to reduce his fierceness, Sri Ramanujacharya shifted the deity from that place to the north east of Ananda Nilaya Vimana and established him facing the Vimana.

Structure of the Vimana of Tirupati

The significance of Vimana is that it is three storied Vimana constructed to the maximum height. The square base is 27.4 feet and the height is 37.8 feet, which includes Kalasa over the present terrace of sanctum sanctorum.

The first two tiers are rectangular and the third is circular in plan. There are no figures sculpted in the first tier. There are forty figures in the second and the third or topmost storey is placed with good space left out at the four corners.

During the Samprokshanam, two lions with a lotus in between them were installed. It is said that about 12 tons of copper and 12000 tolas of gold were used in the construction of the Kavacham for the Ananda Nilayam.

History of the Gold on Vimanam at Tirupati Temple

It is said that Sundara Pandya was the first to make a gold Kalasa and fixed it in 1262 A.D.
Vira Narasimha of Vijayanagara King performed his Tulabhara ceremony and presented the gold to the temple for guilding the Vimana and other structures.

Saluva Mangideva, a general under Kumara Kampana Udaiyar, fixed a golden Sikhara on the Vimana in 1359 A.D.

Amatyasekhara Mallana, a Minister under Devaraya-II in 1417 A.D. renovated Ananda Nilaya Vimana.

In 1518, Sri Krishnadevaraya, Vijayanagara King, during his fifth visit presented 30,000 gold varahas for building of the Vimana.

Again in 1630 A.D. Kotikanyakadanam Taachariar of Kancheepuram, arranged gold building of the Vimana.

Later in 1908, Adhikari Ramalakshmanadasa, one of the brother disciples of Sri Mahant Prayagdasa fixed gold Kalasa over the Vimana. Thus, Ananda Nilaya Vimana was covered with gold plates in different times.

Source - Excerpts and information from an article title Significance of Ananda Nilayam Vimanam written by Dr. M. Varadarajan published in Saptagiri July 2018 Issue.