Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple, also known as Thiruvaranga Tirupati, is one of the most illustrious Vaishnav temples in the country, dedicated to Ranganatha, a reclining form of Lord Vishnu. Situated in an island of Srirangam that is bounded by the two rivers of Kavery and Kollidam (a tributary of Cauvery), this living temple and sacred centre of pilgrimage is counted as the first and foremost among the 108 Divya Desams dedicated to Bhagwan Vishnu.
The lively Idol of Sri Ranganatha Swamy
The idol of the main deity is unique that it is not made of granite as in many temples, but Stucco (a unique combination of lime, mortar and stones bound together by a special paste (Thailam), made of musk, camphor, honey,Jaggery and sandal). This is nothing but self-manifestation of the lord.
The Temple Town
More importantly, it is not just a temple but a temple-town, unique in its Sapta-Prakaram (7 concentric rectangular enclosures) formation that run round the sanctum sanctorum in which the deity presides. While the inner five enclosures of the complex constitute the temple, the outer two enclosures function as the settlement. Constructed in the Dravidian style of architecture, the Temple Complex is massive in scale and spread over 156 acres (63.131 hectares).
Legend / Sthala Purana
According to Sriranga Mahathmiyam Lord Rama, worshiped the idol for a long time, and when he returned victoriously from Sri Lanka after destroying Ravana, he gave it to King Vibhishana as a token of appreciation for the Vibhishana's support. When Vibhishana was going via Trichy en route to Sri Lanka carrying the deity, Sri Ranganatha Swamy, captivated by the devotion of a King called Dharma Varma, who was doing penance to have Lord Ranganatha to permanently stay Srirangam. So Lord stayed in Srirangam, promising Vibhishana, to cast his benign glance eternally on Lanka. Hence it is that the deity (in a reclining posture) faces South.
Evidences prove the origin of the temple in 1st century CE during the Sangam period (3rd Century BCE – 45th Century CE). However, as it stands today, the temple represents an accretion of building activity over centuries, the architectural idioms coming from the several royal dynasties who were captivated by and adored the temple. Some of these were the early Cholas (1st Century CE) ruling from Uraiyoor situated to the south of Srirangam across the river, later Cholas (13th Century CE) of Pazhaiyaarai and Thanjavur, the Kongu rulers from Tamil west, the Pandyas from south (6th – 10th Centuries CE and 13th – 14th Centuries CE), the Hoysalas (10th – 14th Centuries CE), and the later rulers and viceroys of the celebrated Vijayanagara Empire of Karnataka (14th - 16th Century CE). The expansion schemes included addition of functional structures and pavilions of grand temple protocol (like the Mallikarjuna Mandapam) and its growth is a pointer to an antiquity since the time this unique centre of religious devotion had been known to and extolled by a diversity of religious and linguistic groups across the nation periodically surging towards this centre of pilgrimage par excellence.
Extraordinary Temple Architecture
Mandapams (Halls): There are many mandapams at Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple. One of the finest is the Hall of 1000 pillars (actually 953), an example of a planned theatre-like structure. Made of granite, it was constructed during the Vijayanagaraperiod (1336–1565).
The Sesharayar mandapam, added by Nayaks, on the east side of the fourth enclosure, consists of monolithic pillars with sculptures of wild horses bearing riders on their backs, trampling their hoofs upon the heads of rampant tigers.
The Garuda Mandapam, another Nayak addition, on the south side of the third enclosure. Courtly portrait sculptures and a free-standing shrine inside the hall contains a large seated figure of Garuda.
The Kili mandapam is located next to the Ranganatha shrine, in the first enclosure of the temple. Elephant balustrades skirt the access steps that ascend to a spacious open area. This is bounded by decorated piers with rearing animals and attached colonettes in the finest 17th-century manner. Four columns in the middle define a raised dais; their shafts are embellished with undulating stalks.
The Ranga Vilasa mandapam is a huge one, where the weary devotee may rest a while and watch others haggle and purchase items for rituals. The Ranga Vilasa mandapa carries the sculptures of Bala Ramayana and exquisité murals.
The Kottarams (Granaries): The Kottaram houses the huge Granaries which stand testimony to a systematic food security planning not only to the temple but probably to the entire population of the temple town.
Small shrines: The Venugopala shrine in the south-west corner is in the fourth enclosure of the temple with an inscription of 1674 CE. The exterior of the vimana and attached mandapa has finely worked pillars with fluted shafts, double capitals and pendant lotus brackets. Sculptures are placed in the niches of three sides of the sanctuary walls.
Gopurams (Temple Towers): There are 21 huge Gopurams. The Rajagopuram is the second tallest Temple tower in the world rising to a height of 72 mts.
Inscriptions: Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple is a veritable treasure trove for epigraphists. Over 640 inscriptions have been copied and published from the temple.
The inscriptions throw up interesting and valuable light on the history, culture and economy during a period of over a 1000 years. The temple abounds in inscriptions dating between the early Chola and late Nayak periods. Inscriptions also throw light that the Srirangam temple was one among the handful of temples which have had an Arokyasala (Health Centre) that had rendered medical service to the people.
Fresco & Mural Paintings: The walls of the Temple complex are painted with exquisite paintings using herbal and vegetable dyes. The figures of gods and Goddesses tell us stories and teach us morals. The high end technologies used in these paintings ensured a long life for these paintings and poses a tough challenge to reproduce them in these modern days.
Vahanas: The Garuda vahana, Simha vahana, Yanai vahana, Kudirai vahana, Hanumantha Vahana, Yazhi vahana, Sesha vahana, Annapakshi Vahana, Otrai and ettai Prabhai vahana are all examples of unmatched beauty. To see Lord Ranganatha mounted on them is a treat to watch especially as he moves along the streets of Srirangam inch by inch amongst a sea of devotees.
An interesting piece of history is the Yanai Vahana's Elephant. A closer look one would observe that it has four tusks, which are said to have evolved around 38 million years ago and became extinct about 15 million years ago.
Pushkarinis: The Temple complex has 2 large Temple tanks inside it, Chandra Pushkarini and Surya Pushkarini. The Complex has been built in a way that all the water collected flows into the tanks. The capacity of each Pushkarini is around 2 million litres and the water is cleansed by action of fishes in it. Apart from these there are 10 more Temple Tanks around Srirangam. Open sand beds and Nandavanams (Flower gardens) help in absorbing the rain water.
srirangam Temple Images
Sri Ranganatha swamy deity - reclined posture on Adishesha
Panoramic view of Srirangam Island and temple town
Temple town and complex
Raja Gopuram (72 mtrs) standing high to the sky
Main entrance of the temple
Row of Gopuram tops decorated with Kalashas
Beautifully carved Puranic scenes on Gopuram panels
1000 pillars Mandapam
Swarga Vasam - Opens only during Vaikunta Ekadashi
Transport: Srirangam / Trichy is linked by NH45, Nh47, NH210 and NH227
Where to Stay
There are so many hotels from budget to luxury available in Tiruchirappalli city
Where to Eat
There are many restaurants available around here providing Indian, mainly South indian cuisines
Festivals / Events
Vaikunta Ekadeshi – Margazhi(Dec / Jan) - Celebrated on grand scale with lakhs of devottes attended. During the festival, through song and dance, this place is affirmed to be Bhoologa Vaikunta(heaven on earth).