TIRUPATI: In what is being billed as the single largest overseas donation, an NRI entrepreneur devotee has donated Rs 16 crore to the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams (TTD). M Ramalinga Raju, the US-based devotee, happens to be a close relative of TTD chairman Kanamuri Bapiraju.
The NRI, who lives in San Francisco in California, presented a demand draft for Rs 16 crore on Tuesday to the TTD chairman who announced to the media that Ramalinga Raju was his relative. TTD officials said this was the single largest overseas offering to Tirumala. Of the Rs 16 crore, the donor requested that Rs 11 crore be used to make a garland of gold (sahasra nama mala) weighing about 35 kg and the remaining Rs 5 crore be utilized to construct a free-meal complex for pilgrims at Tiruchanur near Tirupati.
Ramalinga Raju also expressed his willing to donate another Rs 65 lakh towards setting up of a dhyana mandir at Srivari Padalu (which means at the feet of the Lord, but is the name of a place in Tirumala). Incidentally, Ramalinga Raju was a classmate of chief minister Kiran Kumar Reddy at Hyderabad Public School. Apparently, the necklace that currently adorns Lord Venkateshwara was donated by Ramalinga Raju’s grandfather, and that the grandson wanted to continue with the family tradition. The NRI is in the software and chemicals business and is also praying that Bapiraju whose term is ending gets another extension as TTD chairman.