A replica of the Sri Venkateswara temple at Tirumala, commissioned to serve as a model for film shootings and TV programmes, lies in a shambles at Alipiri. The model of the temple (namoona aalayam) has rather become an eyesore in the otherwise pristine locality at the foot of the Tirumala hills.
As shooting is prohibited inside the Tirumala shrine, the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams (TTD) had this replica built seven years ago to showcase mock rituals for telecast on its Sri Venkateswara Bhakti Channel. Rituals like suprabhatham, thomala seva, archana, ashtadala pada padmaradhana’, thiruppavada, etc. are shot in this ‘’temple and ‘telecast everyday.
The presiding deity ‘Moolavirat’ in this replica temple was made of black slate stone. Similarly, the consecration was made through ‘Vayu Pratishta’, a simple process in the Agama Sastra that does not require rigorous rituals to be followed during day-to-day procedures as it is basically meant for depiction on TV. Though the inner walls and pillars of the mock sanctum sanctorum and even the main threshold are made of plaster of Paris (PoP), the rendition makes it look very much like stone. The makeshift ‘temple’ has become famous itself and finds a place in the itinerary of many a pilgrim.
However, the PoP has now got worn and the gilding of the ceiling has lost its sheen. The canopy over the Garudalwar statue has been badly damaged due to exposure to rain. “The TTD’s engineering and garden sections have not cared to maintain the temple. There are no security personnel to guard the premises and the TTD has not attached even a sweeper to the temple. A lone priest looks after the daily rituals.