Worshipping Lord Venkateshwara, also known as Lord Balaji, has been described in many ancient texts and by many scholars as the only way to attain salvation in Kalyug.
The Lord here is extremely popular among the pilgrims and it is deep rooted belief that one's desires will be fulfilled after worshipping the Lord here. Lord Venkateswara is the richest God in the world and the temple is visited by thousands of pilgrims and the attendance exceeds hundreds of thousands during the Brahmotsavams and other festive occasions. The Lord here is addressed by many names and the temple is considered extremely holy.
The history of this popular temple is well documented and has enjoyed tremendous support from kings of almost every major dynasty starting from the ninth century. There are historical evidences of contributing kings from various dynasties like Pallavas, Cholas and Pandyas of the Tamil region and the Vijayanagar dynasty.
The most notable of the kings was the great Sri Krishna Devaraya who is said to have given the temple much of its present structure. He ensured the continuous worship of the Lord and other religious activities of the temple by allocating vast sums towards maintenance. One can still find the statues of the Emperor and his two wives in the temple complex.
Things continued to be on track even after the Vijayanagar era with the support of nobility and other prominent figures, most notably, Raghoji Bhonsle, a Maratha general and the royal lineage of Mysore and Gadwal kingdoms. During the British rule the temple came under the administration of Sri Seva Dossji of the Hathiramji Mutt. The Mutt functions from just outside the main temple complex and one can find it without much effort.
Later, in 1933, after nearly a hundred years under the Mutt, the temple came under a TTD committee passed by the then Madras Government. This act was later replaced with an Andhra Pradesh Government act, appointing an executive officer and a trustee board to run the temple.
There are many famous legends associated with this popular temple.
Legend has it that Rangadasa, an ardent devotee of Lord Vishnu met Vaikhanasa Gopinatha, who was on his way up the hill. He placed Lord Vishnu, who manifested as Lord Venkateswara on the hill, beneath a tamarind tree. The Lord's exposure to nature was minimized by the Giant wings of Garuda. A surprised Rangadasa, immediately constructed a stone wall around the Lord and started to worship the lord with the help of Gopinatha by supplying him with flowers. Once, after getting distracted from the Lord's service by the sight of a Ghandarva king and his accompanies, Rangadasa was told by the Lord that he failed in the test of temptation but accepted Rangadasa's service till then nonetheless. He was granted a boon by the Lord that he would take birth as a prince and would continue services to the lord by constructing a temple. As told, Rangadasa was born as a prince into the kingdom of Tondamandalam and went on to construct a magnificent temple with fabulous provisions for worshipping the Lord. Later in kaliyug, this kingdom was to be ruled by Akasaraja, whose daughter Padmavathi was married to the Lord Venkatewara in a spectacular fashion.
Another legend has it that all humans had to escape to Janaloka to surivive after the great deluge on earth, which resulted in the earth sinking into Patala Loka and is said to be there for a thousand years. Lord Vishnu, the protector, restored the earth after a ferocious battle with Hiranyakasa in patala loka and by placing earth on his mighty tusks. After being prayed to by the Gods, lord Vishnu asked Lord Brahma, the creator, to reinstate life on earth and sent garuda for Kridachala (a huge hill) from Vaikuntam. The hill resembled that of Adisesha. This hill was to be the abode of Lord Vishnu on earth and after manifesting into a tranquil form upon requests by the Gods, Lord Vishnu came down to stay on earth to save mankind from miseries.
This holy place has a lot more legends to its credit and are described in detail in many ancient texts.