Srirangam Temple Overview Part I (Trichy - Tamil Nadu)

Srirangam - Unique and first things first. What comes to mind first when I think of Srirangam??? Its geography - its an island! No, its located right at the centre of Tamil Nadu, with no sea in vicinity. But Srirangam is located right in the middle of River Cauvery. The Cauvery on one side of Srirangam is called Cauvery, on the other side its called Kollidam. Another unique factor is the architecture. Usually a temple is situated within a town/village. Here is the only place where the town is located within the temple!!! There are 7 compound walls that surround the temple. The entire town is within the 7 walls, upto the 4th wall. Beyond that its purely the temple. Next unique feature - this temple has the maximum number of Gopurams - 21!!! Next unique feature - one of its 21 gopurams is the second tallest ever! Last but not the least - this is the largest temple in India!!!
Srirangam has an extensive, impressive legend and history. Ramayana is one of the 2 mega epics of India. In Ramayana, after Rama defeated Ravana, he made Ravana's brother Vibhishana as the King of Lanka. Rama was having this little sculpture of Ranganatha (Lord Vishnu) which he gave to Vibhishana before bidding adieu to him. He was instructed never to keep the idol on ground on the way and to keep it down only when he reaches Lanka. On his way to Lanka, while passing through Trichy, he gave the idol to a local sheperd boy for a few moments when he went for some chores. The boy couldn't bear its weight for long and he kept it down. On coming back, Vibhishana could not remove it from the ground. This sculpture got permanently fixated here and this place where Ranganatha resides became Srirangam. Upon prayers, Lord Vishnu appeared before him and said that He's prefer to stay here, however his glance would be towards Lanka, That's why this is a south facing temple. 
Historically this temple built in several era by several kingdoms. Periazhwar and Andal have written about this place which means it was there since 8th, 9th C. Inscriptions are here starting with Parantaka Chola and continues with Rajamahendra, Kulothunga etc. Later on Hoysalas, Pandyas (Maravarman Sundara, Jatavarman Sundara etc), played an important role in expanding this temple. All the emperors and kings showered the temple with art, architecture and also wealth. It was indeed so well that the several granite / metal structures of the temple were wrapped in gold foil. However good things did get shattered when Malik Kafur of the Delhi Sultanate Dynasty waged a war on Srirangam during 1311 and looted the place of all its wealth and took the bronze idol of Lord Ranganatha (Azhagiya Manavalan) as well, back to Delhi. However the daughter of Malik Kafur, Surattani fell in love with the beauty of Azhagiya Manavalan. When a group of devadasi  women (temple dancers), went to Delhi to his court and entertained him with their dance and as a return gift, asked for Azhagiya Manavalan. It is said that, Princess Surattani too who was in love with Azhagiya Manavalan then, came back to Srirangam with them!!! She was later on called 'Thulikka Nachiyaar' and was celebrated here and she has a separate shrine here as well!!!
However, the tough times of Srirangam didn't end here. Once again in 1323, Ulugh Khan of Delhi Sultanate, waged a much severe war on Srirangam that was even more devastating!!! As I said in the 1st para, the 7 circumambulation passages of the 7 compound walls, were all completely filled with dead bodies of the Sri Vaishnavas (devotees of Lord Ranganatha). The number of people killed, almost touched 12000-13000!!!!!! Seeing this, some ardent devotees decided to protect Azhagiya Manavalan no matter what, as the Sultanate were coming towards the sanctum sanctorum, under the leadership of the Acharyas - Vedanta Desika and Pillai Lokacharya. Its said that while Vedanta Desika stayed within the temple and built a wall in front of Sanctum Sanctorum to protect the sculpture and Pillai Lokacharya and a few others, fled with the bronze sculpture (Azhagiya Manavalan). Pillai Lokacharya breathed last en route and other continued to keep fleeing with the sculpture. Its said that the sculpture travelled all over the southern states and many had lost their lives to save it (like tying it onto themselves and jumping off a cliff, thus losing their life but saving Azhagiya Manavalan)!!! That was the extent of their devotion!!!!! Vedanta Desika too fled to Sathyamangalam & Melkote.
After pushing off the Sultanates out of Srirangam, the Vijayanagara and Nayak kings brought this back to its original glory and expanded it even more. The sculpture returned back to Srirangam only after 48 years. Only after 60 years the festivities re-started!!! 
Well, that's tons of information. Let's continue in the next post...
P.S: On a totally different note, I got one more blog award! :) This time its a Leibster Blog Award from Gayathree! Thanks Gayu!!! :)
And I'm passing this on to Venkat, Niranjan, Ashok, Anu, and Sudhir! Congrats guys! Pass it on and spread the cheers!!! :)

TO GET THERE:
From Trichy: 9 km 
From Thanjavur: 60 km via Thuvakkudi
From Karur: 77 km via Kulithalai

Dedicated to Prof.Swaminathan & co...

Bhushavali N

An ardent traveler by passion. I am a wanderlust.. Read more about me here.

30 comments:

  1. Hi Bhusha
    Srirangam is a mighty,powerful and awesome temple. Thanks for refreshing us about the legends & history associated with this great marvel of architecture.Congratulations on the Liebster Award. And you are looking chic,charming & lissome in your multicolored pavadai davani attire.
    Best Wishes Ram

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    1. Thank you so much Ram Sir! I prefer Pavadai Davani to Saree!! :)

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  2. The moment I think of Srirangam, I get reminded of the soaring magnificent Gopurams which has intricate work. The whole temple complex is a great treat to those who love temples. One of my aunt stays a few streets away from this temple, and she has told me the story of Thuluka Nachiyar too. You've given loads of info and history about the temple, and it was a total delight to read them.
    And, Thanks for passing over the Leibster Award too :)

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    1. Thank you so much for your appreciation. So glad your aunt is from Srirangam... :)

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  3. Kaveri Virajaseyam Vaikundam Ranga Mandiram - Kaveri is the divine river Viraja and Rangam is the Holy Vaikundam

    A beautiful and divine place :)
    God bless

    Cheers,
    Kaushik

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  4. Loved your Post :) The story of srirangam temple is pinned with the malai kottai temple too . I hear the shepherd who finds mention in that story is lord ganesha himself and Vibeeshana was angry that he had placed the Idol down irrespective of constantly asking not to .Its believed that he chased Lord ganesha (in shepherd form) till the nearby mount and in the summit he caught him and knuckled him on his head :) and that place became "Ucchi Pillayar Kovil" .. People say that the Ganesha idol there still has a small dipression on the head :D .

    Loved the "thulukka"Nachiar story too..

    Cheers
    Sriram

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    1. Thank you so much Sriram. I've heard of this story too... But then, this story is not in Koil Ozhugu. What I've written is what is in the Koil Ozhugu (the official legend on the temple!)!!!

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  5. A very informative post! Thanks for sharing, and yes as Sriram said thats the version which I knew about.

    Beautiful post,

    Keep smiling,
    Lakshmi

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  6. am not much of a temple person..but yes, this is interesting :)

    http://www.myunfinishedlife.com/

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    1. Thanks dear! I'm more into temple in historical, archaeological, art, heritage aspect than ritualistic! :)

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  7. Iam not aware about this temple.

    Thanks for sharing unique facts, legend and history of the temple

    nice temple gopuram photos

    congrats for award

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  8. Thanks Busha...wonderful to receive from u :)

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    1. You're welcome Ashok! You deserve it!!! :)

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  9. Really very nice article. As well as helpful to gain knowledge about the temple. Thanks to update us.

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  10. Wow, that looks beautiful!
    Do you wanna follow each other? <3
    xoxo http://ourloveourpassion.blogspot.com

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  11. What an amazing structure, and interesting history, too.

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    1. Thank you Janie! Its indeed so huge and breathtaking! :)

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  12. This truly is with tons of information as your posts are always. Thanks for your award. First time to receive something like this makes me happy.

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    1. Your blog truly deserves it! Love your photography! :)

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  13. Excellent post on Srirangam. I have been wanting to visit this temple for long. Thanks a lot for that award, Bhusha!

    http://rajniranjandas.blogspot.in

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    1. You must go here Niranjan and when you visit make sure you go there for a few days together, and see in and around in detail!

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  14. Hi, superb post. I just returned from Srirangam- this week.Its been 3 beautiful days at the temple town. Btw on the story abt Vibhishina and Ranganatha idiol- there is small variation I have heard. The version I have heard says - When Rama handed over Ranganatha idol to Vibhishina- the Devas ( other Gods) were not happy with Ranganatha idol going to Lanka. So they sent Ganesha to stop this frm happening. Ganesha, in disguise, took the idol from Vibhishana and left it on the ground. Fearing that Vibhishana mite question Ganesha on why he placed it down, he ran and sat at the considerable height. This height is what we see today as Ucchi Pillayar Kovil ( Rockfort Temple- Trichy)

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  15. The Sri ranganathar Temple in the Alwar tradition is part of the 8 Sywayambu Kshetras of Vishnu where the presiding deity is believed to have manifested on its own.

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