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This famous Hindu temple is located in an out-of-the-way hill town. Yet, it attracts an astonishing 75,000 pilgrims a day on average. On certain festival days, the number swells to a half million.
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For centuries, the faithful has donated huge quantities of gold jewelry, cash, and other assets to the Tirumala Temple. Today, this relatively small temple is one of the two richest religious sites on earth (the other being the Vatican).
Its tall, photogenic trapezoidal gopuram (see photo) dominates the town's skyline. However, it's the nearby gold-domed main shrine (see photo's background) that draws the pilgrims. That building houses the idol of Venkateswara, the Hindu deity for whom the temple is dedicated.
To help alleviate the crush of pilgrims, administrators were forced to devise a computerized queue system. It cuts the waiting time from many hours to a few hours. But still, as before, pilgrims get only a brief glimpse of the Venkateswara idol they come to see and worship.
Tirumala Temple is 120 kilometers (75 miles) from the Tamil Nadu state capital Chennai. Figure on two hours by road each way.
Location in India