Venkateswara literally means "Lord of Venkata". The word is a combination of the words Venkata (the name of a hill in Andhra Pradesh) and isvara ("Lord"). According to the Brahmanda and Bhavishyottara Puranas, the word "Venkata" means "destroyer of sins", deriving from the Sanskrit words vem (sins) and kata (power of immunity).
Thirumalai finds mention in Sangam literature, where Sangam landscape was classified into five categories, known as thinais, based on the mood, the season and the land. Tolkappiyam, mentions that each of these thinai had an associated deity and mentions Thirumaal as presiding in Mullai region- the forests.
The Tirumala hill is located in the temple town of Tirumala, where Tirumala Venkateswara Temple is located on this hill. The ancient Tamil texts describe its Venkata peak as the northernmost Tondaimandalam (Thondai Nadu) part of Tamilakam.
According to the Tirumala sthala Purana, the legend of Venkateswara is as follows:
Once, sages headed by Kashyapa began to perform a fire sacrifice (homa) on the banks of the Ganges. Sage Narada visited them and asked them why they were performing the sacrifice and who is the patron deity of the sacrifice. Unable to answer, the sages approached Sage Bhrigu (who had an extra eye in the sole of his foot) to determine the worthy patron god among the Trimurti, the Hindu trinune gods. Bhrigu first went to Satyaloka, the abode of the god Brahma. At Satyaloka, he found Brahma reciting the four Vedas in praise of Vishnu, with each of his four heads, and attended upon by his consort Saraswati. Brahma did not notice Bhrigu offering obeisance. The angry sage cursed Brahma and left Satyaloka. He then reached Kailash, the abode of the god Shiva. Bhrigu found Shiva deep in meditation with his wife Parvati by his side. Feeling ignored, Bhrigu cursed Shiva too and left for Vaikuntha, the abode of Vishnu.