Srirangam Temple Overview Part II (Trichy - Tamil Nadu)

You read the overview about Srirangam in my last post. So here's the Srirangam continues here.... 
As I said in the last post, there are 7 walls around the temple. Houses, shops, offices everything is  found till the 4th wall which is also called the Ranga Ranga entrance.
I entered the temple from the southern entrance of the outermost wall. This is where the tallest Raja Gopuram is about which I said in the last post. This was completed only in 1987. Just in front of the Raja Gopuram is a modern statue of the bust of Gandhiji and further ahead is the bust of Periyar (who was an atheist). Just behind Periyar, is the local Police Station. Well, that made us come up with a joke! Either stand at the centre and be a Gandhian, or become atheist and go right towards Periyar, or become theist and go left towards Lord Ranganatha or get crazy in confusion and kill someone and get into the Police Station!!!!!! Lolz!!!!!

Anyways, back to the temple. As soon as I entered the Raja Gopuram, on the left and right were these tall pillars that supported the ceiling. Guess what, the entire pillar is a single piece of rock!!! Within this section are the shrines of Vishnu in Vamana Avatar, Andal. This circum-ambulation passage just as you cross the Raja Gopuram is the outermost and is called Adayalavandhan.  
That's our guide, a local priest, who had tremendous knowledge about the temple and its history, legends etc. The symbol on his forehead is called 'Thiru Namam', which is the symbol donned by ardent followers of Lord Vishnu called Iyengars. Different communities wear a slightly different version of a similar symbol.
From here, I crossed the next wall. This circum-ambulation passage is called Chitthirai Veethi. Further down is the next wall and this passage is called Uthira Veethi
Here I could spot the famous Ranga Ranga Gopuram. Its written Ranga Ranga Ranga here on the Gopuram, as  I said in the last post. This is the cut-off point. Beyond this are no more shops or houses or offices. Beyond this is the temple only and a couple of hawkers / makeshift shops. Just to the right of the entrance is the footwear stand. Till this point, its allowed to walk in with shoes on. 
Just beyond this are a couple of makeshift shops where I did some heart felt purchases. No. I'm not saying about that now. That's coming up in the very final post of this series... 
The following circumambulation passage is called Agalangan Thiruveethi. As soon as you enter, to the left is the cloak room and the ticket to go higher up on a mandapam from where you can see all the Gopurams of Srirangam!!! Sadly, I missed this!!!
To the right are the shrines of Koorathazhwar and Thondaradipodi Azhwar. Opposite to this is Nathamunikal shrine. Beside this shrine, a passage inwards leads to the Andal shrine. Enroute is the astonishing, intricately sculpted, Venugopala Shrine. That definitely requires a separate post. Come back soon, for that!!! Further much behind is Chakrathazhwar Shrine. Opp. to Venugopala is Thiruppanazhwar Shrine. Much behind this is the huge Ramanuja Shrine.
This Ramanuja Shrine requires a special mention. This person an Acharya and is one of the very most important figures in Vaishnava (devotees of Lord Vishnu). He lived in the 11th - 12th C. No, this person is not the Mathematical Genius Srinivasa Ramanuja who lived in 20th C. If you've seen actor Kamal Hassan's legendary movie Dasavatharam where he dons 10 roles, the 2nd role is of Ramanuja Dasan. Yes, he's talking about this Ramanuja!!! The sculpture here is called 'Thanana Thirumeni'. Its believed that its not a 'sculpture' of Ramanuja but 'a mummified himself'! Some believe that beneath this shrine is the burial spot of Ramanuja and the sculpture is made of wax which is regularly coated with herbs for protection!! 
Ahead of this are the shrines of Parthasarathy and Pillai Lokacharya. Upon circumambulation, almost reaching the north is the Thaayar Shrine. That's why this entrance is also called Thayar Sannidhi Gopuram. Beside this is the shrine of Vedantha Desika and in front is the shrine of Mettazhagiya Singar (which is again so special that requires a sepearate post!). Further on circum-ambulation, on the east are Vellaigopuram, Ayiram kal Mandapam etc.
Back to the southern side, I crossed the next wall. This circum-ambulation passage is called Thirumangai Mannan Thiruchutru. Right ahead is a shrine with huuuuuuge Karuda (eagle faced carrier of Lord Vishnu). To the right & left are the shrines of Thirukkachi Nambi & Nammazhwar. On this circum-ambulation passage are the shrines of Thirumazhisai Azhwar, Vedvyas, Pattabhirama, Paramapatha Natha, Kothandarama, Thondaradipodi Azhwar, Dhanvanthri (Lord of Medicine), Vasudeva Perumal etc.

A very most important feature in this passage is the Granary! 5 humongous cylindrical brick constructions!!! These were meant to be granary where traditionally the gift to the temple as grains by general public was collected. Today just the granary with no grains!!!
Back again to the southern side, I crossed the next wall. This circum-ambulation passage is called Kulasekaran Thiruchutru which has Hayagriva's Shrine. Beyond next wall is the circum-ambulation passage called Raja Mahendran Thiruchutru. In this passage are the shrines of Chera Kula Valli Nachiyar, Thulukka Nachiyar (story of which I told in the last post), Vishvaksena, Krishna, and also King Vijayaranga Chokkanatha.
The next is the final wall, crossing which is the Dharmavarma Thiruchutru. Sadly this passage cannot be circumambulated. While standing in queue to have a look at the Sanctum Sanctorum, I did look into this passage through the gates and the ceiling was filled completely with beautiful fresco of most probably Nayakka reign. 
Luckily on my visit, I managed to see the bronze idol (Azhagiya Manavalan) placed in the mirror room, so I got to see all the angles of the sculpture! Azhagiya means beautiful and indeed he was beautiful!!!
The Lord Ranganatha in the sanctum sanctorum is in the sleeping posture, facing south. The size is again humongous!!!! Atop the sanctum sanctorum is the Golden Vimana!
Tons of inscriptions can be seen all over the temple everywhere - ceiling, floor, wall, well, door, steps everywhere. The earliest is by Aditya Chola in 10th C.
That's way too much info, isn't it??? Let me stop here.... A couple of shrines that I'd like to share with you in detail are coming up in the upcoming posts!!!

P.S: Anyways, here's a tip for you, if you plan to visit the temple: Do not leave your footwear anywhere till you reach the Ranga Ranga Gopuram where the authorized footwear stand is located. You'll be called by several hawkers & vendors to leave your footwear there in turn for a purchase from them! Here another tip: Take a lot of money in change or in 10s & 20s. There are heck a lot of shrines here and giving some money to the priest of each shrine means a lot of money in change.   If you don't relate to these 2 points (if you're not Hindu or Indian), see the Temple Tour section in my Traveller Tips Page.
Here's one more, most important one: A visit is not at all enough to see the temple complex completely. No, not even 4 visits would suffice. If you wanna see the temple completely, all the shrines, all the sculptures, the entire architecture, everything, I suggest a stay of 6 months, atleast!!! No, I'm not joking at all!!!!! 

TO REACH THERE:
Refer to my earlier post.

Dedicated to Prof. Swaminathan & co...

Bhushavali N

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

16 comments:

  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  2. I marvel at your ability to describe in such detail. Six months to see the whole complex? that a lot of time right?

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    1. Lot? A friend told me to make it a year coz that's needed to see the year round festivals. Sudhir, there are very few days in an entire year when festivals don't happen in Srirangam!

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    2. Hi. I am planning to visit Srirangam this August 2013 with my mother and wife. Could you please help me suggesting some cheap but decent places near temple for a day's stay? Thanks in advance.

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  3. You are right. Just a visit is not enough to see the beauty of Srirangam temple.

    Good description.... Keep up the good work.

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  4. I visited the Srirangam temple only once, that too in the early days of my marriage. it was such a hurried visit, that we hardly saw anything. besides, i wasnt writing a blog then, and wasnt carrying a camera either... your post makes me want to visit again, camera in hand.... looking forward to more detailed posts...

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    1. You should visit there for sure Anu. Take a 3-4 days atleast! You'll enjoy definitely! :)

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  5. Excellent description of Srirangam temple. Nice read.

    www.rajniranjandas.blogspot.in

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  6. This is so interesting! I wish to visit this place tooo once time. Great description!
    Greetings from Germany!!!

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    1. Thanks Maegwin! Do visit our Incredible India atleast once! :)

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  7. super..love your srirangam series and I just realised that there are a couple of shrines that you mentioned here, that I have not seen before. Actually you need a full year to see srirangam in all its glory - from the vasantha utsavam (they have a dance for that aswell), to ther to muthangi sevai. Waiting to read accounts of the build of fake walls and treasure chest at the thaaiyar sannidhi, story of hte viman predicting the apoclypse, anju kuli moonu vaasal and the laughing Narsimhar (sireethadhu Singam) and tiny hanuman with a curled up tail.

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    1. Thanks Sayuri! So true! Indeed an entire year is required to see Srirangam completely, coz the festivities are once a year and year round! :)

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