The Venkateswara Temple in Tirumala, Andhra Pradesh sees 50,000 – 10,000 devotees and pilgrims a day, many of which who make the pilgrimage to pay tribute to Lord Venkateswara, an incarnation of Vishnu. Many devotees make it a point to buy a Tirupati Laddu, which is given at the temple as prasad. Oddly, recent reports have revealed that these laddus are causing a loss of around Rs.200 crore to the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams, an independent trust which manages the temple.
The World Famous Laddus
Pilgrims to the temple often buy the Tiripati Laddus which are priced at Rs.25 a piece. The laddus are considered spiritually significant and can only be made by the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams.
According to a source from the temple, the laddus cost around Rs.33 to make but are sold at a subsided price which is causing the loss of Rs.8 on the sale of each laddu. Additionally, the temple provides free laddus on every entry ticket which is purchase, as well as laddus at lower prices for specific entry tickets. If devotees carry recommendation letters, there is a chance they will be given a requested quantity of laddus free of cost. Pilgrims who arrive at the temple on foot (an 11 kilometre trek up a stairway from the foot of the hills) are given a free laddu.
Finally, employees and pensioners at the temple can buy the laddus for Rs.5 each.
All these subsidised prices are causing the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams a loss of between Rs.140 crore and Rs.200 crore per year. However, the administration does not want to increase the price of the laddus. Instead it is looking at reducing the amount of free laddus it distributes in order to stop an impending financial crisis.