(Last Updated on : 23/01/2009)
Sri Tirupathi Kapaleeswarar temple is situated at the foot of the holy Tirumala Hills of Andhra Pradesh. This temple is situated near the famous tank known as Alvar Theertam, named after Chakrattalvar. The temple of Sri Kapaliswarar is situated on the east bank of the tank and on a hillock. The shrine is placed in between beautiful natural scenery.
Earlier, the temple place was in the middle of a thick forest and wild animals from the nearby hills used to visit it. The evening puja of the Tirupathi Kapaleeswarar temple starts very early morning even now and the shrine is closed before night for safety measures. The road towards the temple hill is in a very good condition and has good electric illumination throughout the night. The traffic runs continuously around the place and therefore it attracts numerous pilgrims and tourists throughout the year.
The antiquity of the Alvar Theertham near the Tirupathi Kapaleeswarar temple can be traced to the times of the great Vaishnava Acharya Sri Ramanuja. He said that the water of this tank was consecrated by the arrival of Sri Govindaraja with his consorts Sridevi and Bhudevi, along with Chakrattalvar. The name of this holy tank was mentioned in various inscriptions and it was termed there as Tiruvengadanatha's sacred waters or Tirupati Chakra Theerdiam in Telugu and Kannada, and as Alvar Theertham in Tamil.
It is from one of the inscriptions of 1563 AD, the earliest reference of the Kapaleeswarar shrine was found. Later, with the passing of time, the tank became well known as Alvar Theertham. The steps and mandapas of the tank were renovated by the last century Mahant Dharma Dasa, the Vicharanakarta of Tirupati temples and he called it Kapila Theertham. Since then, this name also has been added and has come into trend along with the old names. Since the rule of the Chola kingdom, this place has become a part of the then Kottur village. Few of the architectural features of this Tirupathi Kapaleeswarar temple are similar to the old Parasareshwara temple at Jogimallavaram, a hamlet to the south of Tiruchanur, of the Chola period.
The original dhwajastambha and balipeeta and the roof of the Sandyavandana mandapam signify that they were established after 1531 AD. The Tirupathi Kapaleeswarar temple was renovated and repaired during the 16th century when it got damaged very badly by heavy rains and lightning. The East India Company came into rule in the 19th century and along with many other temples of the area, the Kapaliswara shrine was also classed as one of cash contribution from the Circar.
The Tirupathi Kapaleeswarar temple was transferred to the control of the Mahantas in 1843 AD. Later, by an act of 1933, this temple, along with other temples of Tirumala, Tirupati etc. was administered by a board of Trustees supported by an elected officer. There are five inscriptions found in the temple. Among these, one was inscribed on the doorjamb of the mahamandapa of the temple and the others were found around the sacred tank. According to these inscriptions, the Vijayanagara king Achuta Raya built steps of black granite on the sides of the tank and also constructed the Sandhyavandanam mandapam in 1531 AD.
There is an open pillared verandah in the front side of the Tirupathi Kapaleeswarar temple. The pillars of this verandah were built in the early Vijayanagar style. The mahamandapa of the temple was constructed in the Vijayanagar style and the inner hall and sanctum were built in the Chola style. The sacred linga of Kapaliswara is situated on a pedestal in the centre. The above tower of the temple was earlier left incomplete for a long period of time, which is now renovated and merged into the rocky hill. The shrine dedicated to Goddess Kamakshi can be seen in the left of the tower and in front of this a small Nandi was installed. There is also a natural waterfall, which was formed from the spring waters flowing from the top of the hill into the pond below. It is said to be the only Saivite temple connected with Tirumala. It is easy to travel the Tirupathi Kapaleeswarar temple as Tirupati is well connected by regular transport service.