Sri Ranganathar Swamy Temple
Srirangam is an enchanting island formed by the splitting of the majestic Kaveri River. Located in Tiruchirapalli region (also known as Trichy) of the southern state of Tamil Nadu, India, Srirangam is renowned as a temple town and home to the famous Sri Ranganathaswamy temple. This Hindu temple is dedicated to Lord Ranganatha, the reclining form of Lord Maha Vishnu and is rich in history and legends.
This temple is the second largest in the world after the 12th century Angkor Wat temple in Cambodia. The sprawling Sri Ranganathaswamy temple complex occupies an area of 156 acres or 631,000 m2 with a perimeter of 4,116m. Though it is the second largest temple in the world area-wise, it is known as the largest functional temple complex in the world.
Also known as the Srirangam temple, it is constructed in the ancient Dravidian style of architecture and is designed as seven concentric walled sections with 21 tower gates (gopurams). The Rajagopuram located in the south of the temple is the tallest in Asia and stands at an astonishing height of 239.5 feet. At its base, the Rajagopuram covers an area of 5729 feet and tapers upwards to 237 feet through 11 progressively smaller tiers of beautifully carved sculptures depicted in minute details.
Aside from the 21 gopurams, the temple also boasts of 39 pavilions, 50 shrines, several ponds, and the breathtaking Sesha Mandapa and ‘Ayiram Kaal Mandapam’ (hall of 1000 pillars). The hall of 1000 pillars however only has 953 pillars carved with detailed sculptures of horses trampling upon tigers as well as the 10 incarnations of Lord Vishnu. This theatre-like structure was built during the Vijayanagar rule (1336-1565) upon the ruins of another temple.
As you pass through the outer two concentric layers of the temple complex, there are numerous small shops, flower stalls, and eateries. The temple complex houses many interesting features including a 16nth century Venugopal shrine with beautiful Nayak-era carvings of preening maidens being serenaded by a flute-playing Lord Krishna. There is also a roof viewing point that affords panoramic views of the entire complex.
There is even a museum featuring fine bronze and ivory carvings and some classic 17nth century figures of gods, demons and kings and queens. The temple conducts a colorful 21-day annual festival during the Tamil Margazhi month when millions come from all over the world to worship.
Getting here is easy as there is an airport in Trichy as well as good rail and road connections. A good number of hotels are also available including the heritage Sangam Hotel.