Silathoranam -- The Natural Arch in Tirumala Hills

Natural Arch, Tirumala hills is a distinctive geological wonder located 0.6 miles North of the Tirumala hills temple. The Arch is also called Silathoranam (శిలాతోరణం)in local Telugu language (Telugu language: “Sila” means ‘rock’ and “thoranam” means a garland strung over a threshold, connecting two vertical columns or an ‘arch’ as in this case). The arch measures 8 m (26.2 ft) in width and 3 m (9.8 ft) in height, and is naturally formed in the quartzites of Cuddapah Supergroup of Middle to Upper Proterozoic (1600 to 570 Ma) due to natural erosive forces.

The arch is one of the few natural arches or bridges in Asia. But there are many others in other continents, such as the Rainbow Bridge (Arch) and Arches National Park in Utah, USA which depicts 2000 sandstone arches, the Durdle Door arch in Dorset and the Arch of Cut Through in UK, Pravčická brána in Bohemian Switzerland, in Czech Republic, Pont d'Arc in Southern France, Rainbow cave arch in the Galilee Israel, El Arco de Cabo San Lucas in Mexico and London Arch in Australia

Myths behind this Natural Arch

Mythological folklore related to the arch, linked to the famous Tirumala hills temple of Lord Venkateswara, has three versions.

According to one version, the arch resembles the hood of a serpent, a conch (Sanskrit: Shank) and a discus (Sanskrit: chakra) – all symbols of worship in Hindu religion – and considered to be the source of the Idol of Lord Venkateswara or Lord Balaji at the Tirumala hill temple.

The second version is that the main deity in the Tirumala temple is of the same height as the height of the arch.

The third version is that Lord Vishnu (Hindu God) called as Balaji or Venkateswara (the Central deity of Sri Vaishnava tradition) at the Tirumala temple town, is supposed to have put his first foot down at a place called Padalu or Srivari Padalu (శ్రీ వారి పాదాలు)(Telugu language: Divine foot prints) which is the highest point of Tirumala hills, the second step at the location of the arch. Thereafter, the next step is stated to have been placed where his idol is now worshipped in the temple at Tirumala

Science behind this Natural Arch

In the 1980s, during excavations for a geological fault in the Tirumala hills, geologists found this rare geological formation of the rock arch which has two dissimilar sets of rocks with a connecting thin link. The assessed geological age of the rock arch is 2.5 billion years. Formation of the arch is attributed to intensified weathering and erosion of stream action that has withstood the torque of nature.This is a rare geological fault which is technically called in the geological idiom as ‘Eparchean Unconformity’.

How to reach this place ?

The approach road from the temple is wide and is an avenue of trees. Private vehicles are allowed to the location. A 20-minute walk from the Varahaswamy temple in Tirumala would be a pleasant experience.

Voluntary Services at Tirumala


The richness of Hindu Sanatana Dharma is that it preaches “Manava Sevaye Madhava Seva” which means “Service to Humanity is Service to Divinity”. Illustrious acharyas like Tirumala Nambi, Ramanjuacharya, Ananthalvar and many others dedicated their lives in the service of people thereby possed the heavenly mukthi. The concept of Srivari Seva has been derived out of this noble thought by TTD and was introduced in the year 2000 with an aim to serve the pilgrims who throng Tirumala from far flung places to have darshan of Lord Venkateswara. Began with just 200 Srivari Sevakulu in the initial days, so far nearly five lakh Srivari Sevakulu have rendered impeccable services to the fellow pilgrims in their 14-long years of journey since its inception. Srivari Sevakulu hail from Telangana, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Kerala, West Bengal, Maharashtra, Orissa, New Delhi, Chattisgarh, Jharkhand states also apart from Andhra Pradesh. On any given day not less than 1000 Sevakulu will be on service while during festive and vacation seasons the figure triples. Srivari Seva will form as integral part of worship at Tirumala.

The opinion of the Sevakulu is that “It not only enlivens our spiritual life and also prepares our body and soul to act as per the will of supreme Lord which is nothing but serving the fellow pilgrims with love and affection”.


Srivari Seva is a voluntary service where pilgrims will render free services to fellow pilgrims who come for darshan of Lord Venkateswara every day. Interested pilgrims / devotees should register online for Srivari Seva, who will be here-by addressed as “Srivari Sevakulu”. Srivari Sevakulu should be from Hindu religion only. Srivari Sevakulu who are within the age limit of 18 years to 60 years alone will be permitted for Srivari Seva. The Srivari Sevakulu should not bring kids or aged people along with them for service. If so they will be rejected for service.

The Srivari Sevakulu (both men and women) who enroll for Srivari seva should be healthy i.e., physically strong, mentally fit as they have to perform the Seva for longer duration every day. Otherwise they will not be taken for service even if they fall within the specified age limit and the final discretion of selecting the Srivari Seva volunteer lies in the hands of APRO cum OSD or Superintendent of Srivari Seva Sadan. Srivari Seva is a voluntary Service. Hence, no payments will be made by TTD in any form. Srivari Sevakulu should not have been involved in any Criminal activities or cases. Srivari Sevakulu are requested not to carry / Consume prohibited articles under section 114 of AP Charitable and Hindu Religious Institutions & Endowment act, 1987.
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