The Rajagopuram of Trichy
Srirangam is a small ancient island bounded by the Cauvery river on one side and its tributary, the Coleroon on the other. It forms part of the city of Trichy, part of Tamil Nadu, a state in southern India.
This island is home to an enormous temple complex, the Sri Ranganathaswamy temple, a major pilgrimage spot for followers of Lord Vishnu. A large number of his followers also dwell on this island. The temple complex is so large, it feels like a self-enclosed city! It also bears the distinction of being one of the largest religious complexes in the world. It covers a whopping area of 156 acres or 0.63 square kilometers and a perimeter of 4,116m with several prakaras or enclosures. Thick rampart walls separate each prakara.
There are 7 temple towers or gopurams in this complex, with the latest one, the rajagopuram being added in 1985. This architectural marvel was consecrated in the presence of thousands of believers and spiritual and political luminaries. It is one of the tallest temple towers in Asia, rising to a majestic height of 73m and it took 200 dedicated workers who toiled through day and night to complete it in about eight years.
Reaching to the skies with its 13 tiers of sculptured gods and goddesses, the tower is the cynosure of all eyes as it adds luster and grandeur to an already amazing temple complex. The rajagopuram is a marvel of modern construction designed in the Dravidian style to match with the rest of the temple architecture. It has a base of 166 feet by 97 feet with the last top tier being 98 feet by 32 feet; for the devout, this is more than just an architectural marvel and adds to their pious needs.
The Srirangam temple is devoted to Lord Ranganatha, a reclining form of Lord Vishnu and is one of the most illustrious Vaishnava temples in southern India; the temple is often mentioned as being the largest functional temple of this world and is embellished with numerous legends and myths relating to its origins…. but that would be a story for another day!
The temple has 49 separate shrines dedicated to Lord Vishnu and to reach the inner sanctum sanctorum, one has to pass through the seven gopurams, with the rajagopuram being the first. Don’t bother with the so-called pestering ‘guides’ and explore on your own.
Due to the large number of devotees and tourists, Srirangam has a thriving economy. Getting there is easy as Trichy has an international airport and is well supported by both rail and road too. Just book into one of the numerous beautiful hotels available and enjoy touring the city!