The Tirupati Balaji Temple is situated in the hill town of Tirumala at Tirupati. The Temple is dedicated to Lord Sri Venkateswara, an incarnation of Vishnu, who is believed to have appeared here to save mankind from trials and troubles of Kali Yuga. The Temple is constructed in Dravidian architecture and is believed to be constructed over a period of time starting from 300 AD. It is the richest temple in the world in terms of donations received and wealth and is visited by about 50,000 pilgrims daily.
The temple has been patronised by many dynasties including the Pallavas, the Vijayanagara emperors and more recently the Marathas and the Mysore kingdom. The temple gained most of its current wealth and size under the Vijayanagara Empire with the donation of diamonds and gold.
The Vijayanagara Emperor, Krishna Deva Raya was a great administrator and military strategist and a devout Hindu. His favourite deity was Lord Venkateswara in the Tirumala Temple to whom he made numerous offerings of objects of priceless value, ranging from diamond studded crowns to golden swords. Additionally, he is known to have commissioned the making of statues of himself and his two wives at the temple complex. These statues are still visible at the temple exit. Temple inscriptions mention seven visits by Krishna Deva Raya to Tirupati.
Krishna Deva Raya expanded his Empire by adding the territories of the northern Deccan sultanates and Kalinga in addition to his already established presence in the south. Not only did the Vijayanagara Empire act as a bulwark against Turkic expansion from the north, it also exemplified the bests of art, architecture and culture of the period. An interesting aspect of the Vijayanagara Empire is the fact that even though it originated as a result of efforts to thwart Muslim expansion, it encouraged all religions to co-exist. The kings of Vijayanagara routinely hired Muslims in their armies and courts. This spirit of inclusivity was what made the Vijayanagara Empire truly great!
During his fourth visit to Tirupati in 1514, Krishna Deva Raya performed a ‘Kanakabhishekam‘ (showering of gold coins) for the Lord with 30,000 gold coins ! The coin shows a splendid depiction of Venkateswara in all His jewelled glory on the obverse. As compared with the magnificence of the obverse, the simplicity of the reverse stands out as a testimony to the King's devotion and subservience to the Lord. Undoubtedly, one of the finest Indian coins with immense historical significance and showing evidence of devotion of a very powerful king.
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