: Near Trichy, Tamil Nadu
Abode Of: Sri Ranganatha (Lord Vishnu)
Significance: One Of The Nava Graha Sthalas
Important Festivals Celebrated: Aadi
Bhramotsavam In March-April, The Grand Adhyayanotsavam In
December-January, Vaikunta Ekadasi In December, Chitrai Car Festival In
April, Thai Car Festival In January, Theppam Festival In February And
Goratham Festival In March.
abode of the Supreme Lord, Sri Ranganatha, the reclining form of Lord
Vishnu, is situated in a picturesque island in the hallowed South Indian
River Cauvery, near Trichy. The temple of Ranganatha, the largest in
India, is of particular reverence to all Hindus.
Srirangam is also
listed as one of the Navagraha Sthalas (places), or temples representing
the planets. The South Indian temples in this group are Suryanarcoil -
the Sun, Tirupati -the Moon, Palani- Mars, Madurai-Mercury, Tiruchendur-Jupiter,
Srirangam is an
eloquent symbol of age-old Indian culture, tradition and civilization,
preserved and patronized by the great rulers of Tamil Nadu. It has a
long history and the temple was built in stages at various periods by
the ancient kings of Chola, Pandya, Hoysala, Vijayanagar dynasties and
Connected With The Temple
No one really
knows when the Srirangam temple came into being. The actual shrine is
supposed to have risen out of the "Paarkadal" (Ocean) itself
as a result of Brahma's penance. According to legend, "Ikshvaku",
a descendant of Surya, the Sun God, who was appointed to take care of
the daily worship, is supposed to have kept it in his capital, Ayodhya .
His descendant, Sri Rama presented the shrine to Vibhishana when he
attended his coronation.
who was carrying it back on his head to Sri Lanka, rested briefly at
Srirangam, the shrine got rooted there. Sri Ranganathaswami, the legend
goes, then appeared before him and said he wished to stay on the banks
of the Cauvery. He however promised the disconsolate Vibhishana that he
would always lie facing Sri Lanka. Vibhishana, it is believed comes even
today to pray at the temple.
The temple is
surrounded by seven concentric walls (the outermost wall having a
perimeter of over 3-km) and covers a vast area of 63 hectares. Most of
the temple complex standing today was constructed between the 14th and
enshrines Ranganatha (also spelt as Rangathar) in the central sanctum,
crowned with a gold plated Pranava Vimanam (also spelt as Vimana) or
Paravasudeva Vimanam(also spelt as Vimana). A total of 7 concentric
Prakarams (also spelt as Prakaras) surround this shrine, housing several
Mandapams (also spelt as Mandapas), tanks and shrines. Gopurams (also
spelt as Gopuras) on the south and east of the 4th Prakaram are the most
impressive. A total of 21 towers adorn the temple.
The shrine of the
Goddess, "Sriranga Nachiar" (also called "Thayar")
is located in the 5th Prakaram. The image of the Goddess is never taken
out of the shrine. There are two processional images.
The pillars here
go back to the Chola period (13th century CE). The 1,000-pillared hall
is also the product of the late Chola period, and is also in the 4th
Prakaram; its entrance is in the south. It is here where the
Adhyayanotsavam (involving the recitation of the Tamil Prabandam hymns)
At the southern
edge of the huge open courtyard, the Vijayanagara rulers added the hall
with 8 pillars with huge horses. The Krishna Venugopala shrine on the
southern side is also of great beauty. The Garuda Mandapam is located in
the third Prakaram. Its pillars go back to the Nayaks of 17th century
Madurai. The Chandra and Surya Pushkarini tanks are located in the 3rd
History Of The
The temple does
have a traceable history, which is quite awesome. It is mentioned in the
"Silappadikaram" as well as in the Nalayiradivyaprabandham,
which dates back to the third century. Koil Olugu, a chronicle of the
temple, written around the 11th century attributes the construction of
one of the enclosures to Tirumangaialvar, who is supposed to have lived
there during the seventh century.
adopted daughter Andal was an ardent devotee of Ranganathaswami, has
also described the temple in his verses. Outside the main temple there
is a small shrine supposed to have been built on the spot where Andal
became one with the Lord.
Of course the
most famous resident of the area, whose life and work have been well
chronicled is Ramanujacharya. He was born in Sriperumbudur around the
year 1137 and spent the early part of his life in Kanchipuram. He came
to Srirangam as a young 'Sanyasi' and was responsible for completely
revamping the administration of the temple.
persecution compelled him to flee from Srirangam at the age of 80. With
his band of devoted followers, he wandered all over the South before
settling finally in Melkote in Karnataka.
Sundara Pandya 1, a Chola king who reigned during the 13th century was
responsible for enlarging the temple and for covering the Lord with
sumptuous gold and jewellery. According to temple chronicles, he once
had two boats built on the Kaveri. In one boat he sat on the back of an
elephant and in the other he poured jewels and gold till it sank to the
same water line as the first. He donated all this treasure to the
This king, known
as "Hemachatina Raja" or the king who covered the temple with
gold, is said to have built and covered many of the main parts in gold
and even built a jewelled arch to cover the Lord.
Malik Kafur who
caused the collapse of the Pandya dynasty in the 14th century, raided
Srirangam and carried away most of its treasures. Ten years later,
Mohammed Bin Tughluq (also spelt as Tuglaq) turned the temple of
Srirangam into a fort. The priests of the temple took the Uthsavamurti
of Ranganathaswami and whatever vessels and jewels they could save and
fled. The idol of Thayar was buried in the temple courtyard itself.
For over 50
years, the Utsavamurti, lived in exile. The temple functionaries managed
to keep the "Mulavars" (main idols) safe by building a wall
over them. The Uthsavamurti is said to have traveled all over India and
was finally kept at Tirupati, apparently hidden in a ravine. When peace
returned, since the old idol could not be found, a new one was
installed. The wall protecting the Moolavar was removed.
However, a couple
of years later, suddenly the old idol resurfaced and there was a
controversy as to which was the original one. A blind washer man, it is
said, identified the true idol by the fragrance of Kasturi, which
lingered on its vestments.
HOW TO GET
Air: The nearest
airport is at Trichy (10-km).
is an important railway junction on the metre-gauge of Southern Railway
and is well connected with the towns and cities of the state.
situated on the National Highway No.45 on Tiruchirapalli-Madras route is
well connected by road with the major towns and cities within and beyond
the state. For local transportation taxis, auto rickshaws, cycle
rickshaws and city buses are available.
WHERE TO STAY
available at the economy class hotels and Devasthanam choultries in
Srirangam. All class of accommodation is available in Trichy.