Location: Srirangam, Near Trichy, Tamil Nadu
Dedicated to: Lord Ranganathaswamy
Also known as: Sri Ranganathar Kovil
Significance: One of the holy abodes of Lord Vishnu
How to reach: One can easily reach Ranganathaswamy Temple by taking Regular Buses or by hiring Taxis from anywhere in Tamil Nadu.
Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple is an important shrine where it is believed that the Lord Narayana actually resides. Located at Srirangam in Tamil Nadu, the temple can be reached easily from Trichy. However, regular bus services and private taxis connect the temple from all the major towns and cities of Tamil Nadu. Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple is considered as the first and foremost amongst the 108 Divya Desams (Holy abodes) of Lord Vishnu.
Dedicated to Lord Ranganatha, Sri Rangam Temple is a major shrine that receives millions of visitors and pilgrims every year. Lord Ranganatha is a reclining form of Lord Vishnu on the Shesha Nag. Sri Rangam Temple is also known as Sri Ranganathar Kovil. In the Tamil Language, “Kovil” stands for temple and it is used by many Vaishnavites. The presiding deity of Lord Ranganatha is extolled by various names like Nam-Perumal and Azhagiya Manavalan by his devotees.
Apart from the main shrine of Ranganathar, the temple has several shrines dedicated to various forms of Lord Vishnu like Sakrathazhvar, Narasimha and Rama. In the company of these, there are numerous shrines that are dedicated to some of the renowned saints of the Vaishnava cult. From morning to evening, the temple observes various worship rituals every day. People from all over the globe come to Srirangam Mandir to pay their obeisance to the Lord.
The temple has been mentioned in Tamil literature of the Sangam Era, however the oldest structure of the temple dates back to the 10th century. Encompassing around 247 ‘pasurams’ (hymns) to its credit, Ranganathaswamy Temple has been praised by all the Alwars (Divine saints of Tamil Bhakti movement). Scholars from all schools of thought (Advaita, Vishistadvaita and Dvaita) have identified the importance of this temple despite their affiliation.
The history of the temple is not clearly known, but the archeological inscriptions are obtainable only from the 10th century. As per the Vaishnava philosophy, Sri Ranganathar Kovil is one amongst the eight Svayam Vyakta Kshetras (Self-manifested shrines) of Lord Vishnu, other being Srimushnam, Venkatadri, Saligramam, Naimisaranyam, Totadri, Pushakara and Badrinath. Out all of then, Sri Rangam is of utmost importance.
The occasion of Vaikunta Ekadesi is the main festival at Ranganathaswamy Temple. In the month of Panguni, Aadi Bharam mahotsavam is the major festival that is observed at Sri Rangam Temple. Another festival of Adhyayanotsavam, in the month of Margazhi, is celebrated with great enthusiasm.
The huge temple complex covers an area 156 acres (6, 31,000 m²) with a perimeter of 1,116m (10,710 feet). Having one of the largest temple complexes in India, Sri Rangam Temple is regarded as one of the biggest functioning Hindu temple in the world. Seven concentric walls, which lengthen to 32,592 feet, mark the boundary of this temple.
The striking architecture of the temple spell bounds the onlooker with its charm. Comprising 21 Gopurams (towers), the sheer size of the temple appears awe-inspiring. Apart from other magnificent structures, “Hall of 1000 pillars” gathers the main attraction. It is an excellent example of planned-theatre like structure. Opposite to it, there lies “Sesha Mandap” with its best sculptures.