Annamacharya #8 – Journey to Tirumala

by Sahadev Komaragiri

The journey to Tirumala continued with the group of devotees he met in the village. They were all singing songs in praise of Lord Venkateswara. Annamacharya’s biography written by Chinnana contains several lines from various compositions of Annamacharya. In some cases he clearly stated the exact song name, but in many other cases he used the lines from a composition indicating what Annamacharya said in that context. Veturi Prabhakara Sastry and others tried to match these patterns with the compositions and arrive at the composition name. Thanks to their effort, we are now able to reconstruct the path taken by Annamacharya along with some of the songs that he may have composed along the way.

This is the eighth article in my series of articles on Annamacharya. Early life of Annamayya is the previous article in the series. Walking up the Seven Hills is the next one.


One such song they were singing and dancing along the way nicely fits into a group song that can create a very emotionally charged atmosphere. The song is vedukondama venkatagiri venkateswaruni… vedukondama.  You may listen to this song using the control below:

If the above control does not work, click here

Tallapaka Gangamma Temple

The first stop for the group was at a temple dedicated to goddess Gangamma which receives scores of devotees even to this day. This temple is situated on the outskirts of Tirupati. There is a very interesting story associated with this temple and its goddess. Centuries ago, goddess Gangamma troubled an entire village with a very strange disease that consumed scores of people. This happened year after year in spite of the mass festival called jaatara that was celebrated in honor of the goddess. One such year when the jaatara was in progress, the goddess felt very sorry for the troubles faced by the villagers. She spoke through one of the devotees who was possessed by her. She vowed to rid the village of the disease if they offered her one human sacrifice every year. The villagers agreed and both the goddess and the villagers honored their vows. Each year the villagers caught hold of a traveler passing by the village and offered the traveler as a sacrifice to the goddess. The goddess on her part took care of the disease. This went on for some years. One year a guru by name Tirupati Tatacharya was passing by the village. He was the only one available for the villagers at the time. But then he was a guru. They found it impossible to kill a learned man as a sacrificial animal. Tatacharya found out about the moral dilemma faced by the villagers. He told the villagers that he would meet the goddess on his own and sort it out. The fateful day arrived. Tatacharya on his part asked all his disciples to assemble and continuously chant the famous and all powerful Ashtakshari mantra.  He for himself prepared two hot iron rods that had the conch and discus shapes on their edges. Conch and discus (Shanku and Chakra) are two holy symbols associated with Lord Vishnu and His Vaishnavite devotees. As the jaatara was in progress, the goddess appeared. As usual she took control of one of the devotees and demanded that her food be presented in front of her.  Tatacharya appeared in front of the goddess and took out the hot iron rods to plant the symbols on the goddess. The goddess, initially tried to run away, but she failed in her attempts because of the affects of the Ashtakshari mantra being chanted by the disciples of Tatacharya. Tatacharya tried to plant the symbols on shoulders but missed and planted the symbols on the back instead, perhaps below the neck. The goddess submitted herself to Tatacharya and fell on his feet and sought his forgiveness. Tatacharya accepted her as his disciple and moved her to Tirupati and established a temple for her on the outskirts of Tirupati. From that time she said goodbye to human sacrifice and instead preferred to accept animal sacrifices. Over a period of time, she gave up both alcohol and animal sacrifices that were offered to her and began to accept only vegetarian offerings.

This temple is now called Tallapaka Gangamma temple because of the patronage received by the Tallapaka family starting with Annamacharya. There is a Gangamma Temple in Tirupati. This goddess dressed in various disguises to kill evil and lusty people. She is also considered a sister of Lord Venkateswara. Every year in the month of May there is a jaatara in Tirupati which is attended by hundreds of thousands of people. In honor of this goddess, the devotees dress themselves in various interesting ways. During this time, TTD sends special gifts to this goddess as a gift from Lord Venkateswara to His sister. This temple is in Tatayyagunta. There are a few more Gangamma temples in and around Andhra Pradesh.

Author’s woes:  Chinnana said that it was called Tallapaka Gangamma Temple. I am not able to find a temple that is called even to this day by that very name. The name of the place where the temple is located is called Tatayyagunta. This name closely matches the name Tatacharya. That is the best connection I could infer!  But this story I covered about goddess Gangamma is an irresistible one as it is the first temple that Annamacharya visited on the most important trip in the history.

Approaching the Tirumala Hills

As they were approaching the Tirumala Hills, the magnificent view of the Tirumala hills enchanted Annamayya and he composed and sang several songs, the most famous of which is adivo alladivo sree hari vaasamu. There is hardly any fan of Annamacharya who may not have heard of this composition. You may listen to this song using the control below:

If the above control does not work, click here

In yet another composition is kattedura vaikuntamu kaanachaina konda. You may listen to this song from here (YouTube link):

These are the compositions that show his strong knowledge of the temple and its importance. What is reflected in these compositions include the stories he heard from his parents, from his teachers and the folklore to which he undoubtedly paid a very keen attention. In the song kattedurea vaikuntamu composition, for example, he says that the Tirumala temple is where all gods roam around in the form of animals. In the song adivo alladivo he says that the temple site was home to many saints (adivo nitya nivaasa makhila munulaku).

It must be remembered that he was just 16 then. Did he compose these songs effortlessly? Perhaps he did. He was a genius and his strong love for Lord Venkateswara made it easy for him to come up with these compositions without much effort. Where there is love there is no effort!

He followed the standard path to the temple from Alipiri, the foot hills of Tirumala. What happens after crossing a few more important milestones has to wait for the next post!

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Javin @ FIX Protocol Tutorial February 24, 2011 at 2:02 pm

Thanks for this post man. jai tirupati balaji


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