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Tirupathi

The 'Holy Hill' of Tirumala located in the extreme south-east of the State in the Chitoor district, is one of the most important pilgrim centres in India, and the Sri Venkatshwara Balaji Temple here is claimed to be the busiest in the world - eclipsing Jerusalem, Rome and Mecca in the sheer number of pilgrims. Tirumala is an engrossing place. It's one of the few places in India that allows non-Hindus into the sanctum. The temple is situated at an altitude of 2800 feet among the seven hills on the Eastern Ghats. Dedicated to Lord Vishnu, it is the most venerated Vaishnavaite shrine of the Lord and his consorts. Perched on the 860 m high peak of the Tirumala hills, the shrine is a masterpiece of Dravidian religious architecture. The idols are embellished with brilliant jewels, the Lord's image is 7ft high and is carved in black stone, the most remarkable feature of which is the diamond crown said to be the costliest in the world.