Tirumala Balaji/Sri Venkateswara Swamy Temple
Sri Venkateswara Swamy Temple at TirumalaTirumala Tirupati Devasthanams website, (Govt photo0

The Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam (TTD) might be one of the richest pilgrimage in the country but even then, it has faced a whopping loss of over Rs 140 crore, thanks to its world-famous laddu. According to News18, the Vaishnavite temple has incurred this loss over the last three years and that's because of the subsidised price and free distribution of the laddus that come with a Geographical Indication tag.

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The sweet is being sold at a price of Rs 25 a piece for the last 11 years while the actual cost is around Rs 32.50, News18 cited a source in the temple as saying.

The laddus which are made in the temple's kitchen — Laddu Potu — is a popular prasadam and has a very high demand among the devotees visiting the temple from across the world. The laddus are made in various sizes and are sold in very high numbers. In 2016 alone, an estimated 10 crore laddus were sold.

"Besides the burden caused by subsidy, TTD also incurs more loss selling the laddu at Rs 10 per piece to devotees who opt for free darshan and wait for several hours in long queues, resulting in a loss of about Rs 23 crore. The introduction of one free laddu to each devotee who treks 11-kilometre-long stairway leading to the temple from the foot of the hills also adds about Rs 22.7 crore to the annual loss," the sources said.

Ever since the scheme was introduced in 2013, Tirupati sees 70 lakh devotees reaching the temple by foot. Besides, two laddus are also given for free to 70 lakh devotees who buy special-entry darshan tickets worth Rs 300 and Rs 500 VIP darshan tickets worth Rs 500.

It was said that though TTD has no plans to raise the cost of the laddus, it will reduce the number of free laddus in order to compensate for the loss.

These laddus replaced the 'atherasam' or 'aresu', a sweet made of jaggery and rice when the Mahants started ruling during the British Era.