Sriranganathaswamy temple at Thiruchirappalli

Sriranganathaswamy temple at Thiruchirappalli

Sriranganathaswamy Temple is not just a temple, a temple town indeed.


1. Sapta Prakara Pradikshana, the temple has seven boundary stone walls with 21 magnificent gopurams (Towers) that illustrates the uniqueness of this temple. The outer prakara forms the entry for the city with a Rajagopuram of 236 ft high. For ages, it’s believed that one can spot  Sri Lanka island from that height. That’s so interesting, the fact behind is that Thiruchirapalli lies to the South of Tamil Nadu. 

2. Considered as the prime and foremost temple of the 108 main Vishnu temples ( Divyadesams) and also the first temple of 8 self-manifested temples of Lord Vishnu. This temple is also known as Thiruvaranga Tirupati 

3. Curious to know about history? 
The history of this temple is interconnected with Hindu sacred epic ‘Ramayanam’. The story states that Lord Rama after defeating Ravanan, the king of Lanka crowned Veekbhishana, brother of Ravana as the king. 

Lord Rama gave a small sculpture of Palli Konda Ranganathan ( lord Vishnu at sleeping gesture ) to Veebhishana as a souvenir for his crowning ceremony at Ayodhya and warmed him not to lay it on the ground. Unfortunately when Veebhishana kept it on the banks of the Kaveri river to fulfill his thirst but then he couldn’t lift the sculpture as it became massive., so then he decided to build a temple which is now Sriranganatha temple at Srirangam.

4. People worship the Thaiyar ( goddess)  first and then then the Ranganathar since ages and to date, it’s been traditionally followed. She has special powers to fulfill all her devotees’ demands.  They even name her as ‘Padi Thanda pathini thaiyar’, due to the fact that thaiyar could not visit him directly, she hides and sees the lord Vishnu at a distance.
The footmark describes the place where thaiyar stands and use those 5 holes to support her posture in order to see Lord Vishnu when he comes out of the ‘Paramapada vasal’ or Sorga vasal’ during Vaikunda Ekadesi every year. The doors open only once which illustrate the arrival of Lord Vishnu from heaven to earth down through this door. Devotees believe if they could attend this ritual, they could go along with Vishnu back to Vaikunda (the place where Vishnu lives).

5. Kambar Mandapam 
Kambar, a Tamil poet who composed the Ramayanam Itihasa in the Tamil version and it becomes the pride of this temple as the Arangettram of Kamba Ramayanam took place here where many legends participated.

6. Aiyram Kaal Mandapam ( Thousand pillared hall) made of granite was constructed in the Vijayanagara period 1336-1565 on the site of the old temple. However, do note that the hall actually has only 953 pillars. Each mammoth-sized pillar is a representation of glorious Dravidian sculpturing out of a huge single block of granite and is intricately carved with images of fierce horsemen on rearing horses crashing down and trampling rampant tigers. You will also find-carved depictions of the 12 incarnations of Lord Vishnu on these pillars. The pillars aren’t just strong supporting structures, but also a marvel of Indian architecture.

7. Likewise, you will find Shesha Mandapam, the hall of horses intricately carved out of 8 monolithic pillars of men rearing horses. Exotic figures beneath the horses include the fanciful elephant-lion and a Portuguese soldier wearing a European hat and tunic and the interior of the mandapam has the images of all ten Vishnu’s major incarnations. Kili Mandapam, Arjuna Mandapam and Garuda Mandapam are stunning and splendid. It showcases the richness of Dravidian artwork.

8.The historic 400 years old mural painting that depicts the Bhagavatam, one of the greatest Hindu tests and also deals with various Vaishnavite belief, including incarnations of Lord Vishnu. The features of the paintings are very sharp; geometric and perfectly symmetric painted on ceilings, walls and floors.

9. Sri Ramanujucharya was an exponent of Vaishnava tradition in Hinduism and a separate shrine is dedicated to him. Its believed that his body is mummified and preserved in the temple over 1000 years.

10. Among the 21 multi-colored gopuras, the one in dull white attracts the attention of the people called the Vellayi Gopuram at the eastern gate of Srirangam temple. The word Vellayi means white, but it also represents the name of a Devdasi who sacrificed her life to protect the idol of the temple. The story is real and not just legend locals say. In the year 1323, Sultanate forces from north of India invaded Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple. They looted it of its precious jewels, gold ornaments. and gems in 20 bullock carts. The Sultan desperately tried to search the main idol as it was embedded with precious stones.
Approximately 12,000 people of Srirangam laid down their lives fighting against those Muslim forces. Vaishnavite Acharya, Pillailokacharya had taken the main idol away. He fled to Madurai. In order to distract the Sultan from his search for the idol, a Devdasi called Vellayi danced non stop for hours entertaining him and his people. Towards the end, she lured him to the top of the gopuram. Once up there, Vellayi pushed the Sultan down to death. Immediately after, she was overcome with guilt for having cheated somebody to death. She too then jumped down from the gopuram to her death. The then chief of Vijayanagara forces, Kempanna, defeated the Sultanate forces. He named the tower after Vellayi hailing her sacrifice and painted it white in her memory. So that is the story of why only this gopuram continues to be painted white. It distinctly stands out among the 21 gopurams of the temple.


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