Cultural Gem: The Tirupati Balaji Temple Enchantment in Jammu

Priyanshi Pareek

The newly inaugurated temple of Sri Venkateshwara (Tirupati Balaji) in northern India, nestled amidst the picturesque Shivalik forests in the Majeen area of Sidhra on the outskirts of Jammu city, was opened to the public on Thursday. 

The temple, constructed at a cost of Rs 33.22 crore over 62 acres of land, emulates the renowned Tirupati Balaji temple in Tirumala, Andhra Pradesh. This temple marks the sixth establishment by the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams (TTD) outside of the southern state, joining the ranks of temples in Hyderabad, Chennai, Bhubaneswar, Kanyakumari, and Delhi. Notably, it stands as one of the largest temples in Jammu.

In a ceremonial dedication, Lt Governor Manoj Sinha, joined by Union Minister of State in the PMO Dr Jitendra Singh, officially opened the temple to the public amidst the serene chants of religious mantras and the resonating beats of nagaras in the morning.

“The dedication of Lord Venkateswara temple will strengthen religious tourism circuit in J&K, give a boost to spiritual tourism and a major fillip to the economic development and employment opportunities in the Union Territory,” L-G Sinha said.

“Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board, Shri Kailakh Jyotish & Vedic Sansthan and many other organizations are making immense contribution to promote Vedic culture & traditions. I am confident Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams will develop a Ved Pathshala & health Centre on priority,” he added.

In addition to various pilgrimage facilities such as an amenities complex and a kalyana mandapam (wedding stage), the project encompasses educational and developmental infrastructure, including veda pathshala (Vedic teaching classrooms), a hostel building, and staff quarters.

From the entry gate to the sanctum sanctorum and its gold-plated tower, the temple faithfully replicates the original Tirupati Balaji temple in Tirumala, adhering to the Dravidian style of architecture. Nevertheless, certain ongoing works are still underway within the temple premises.

The inauguration of the Tirupati Balaji temple sparked joy among the local community, particularly among traders and individuals involved in the tourism sector, who had faced challenging times in recent years. Previously, a significant portion of the over one crore Mata Vaishno Devi pilgrims used to spend a day or two in Majeen before continuing to Katra by road, contributing to the livelihoods of local shopkeepers and taxi operators. However, since the establishment of a railway line connecting Katra to the rest of the country in 2014, most pilgrims began traveling directly there, impacting the flow of visitors and earnings for those in Majeen.

As the 62-day Amarnath yatra embarks on its journey to the South Kashmir Himalayas from both Pahalgam and Baltal routes starting July 1, Arun Gupta, the president of the Jammu Chamber of Commerce and Industry, expressed optimism that the Tirupati Balaji temple would introduce religious tourism to the scenic and previously unexplored areas of Jammu. He highlighted the potential for increased tourism, especially in the transportation sector, which is expected to benefit from new routes.

However, the Chamber president urged the administration to establish Amarnath yatra counters in Jammu city to encourage pilgrims to explore the old city, renowned for its ancient temples, shrines, and various other tourist attractions. This move aims to draw footfall to these historically significant sites.

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