Ranganathaswamy Temple Srirangam
The Ranganathaswamy Temple located in Srirangam, Tamil Nadu, is a Hindu temple dedicated to Ranganatha who is an avatar of Lord Vishnu. It is a common belief that people who get darshan here during the Vaikunta Ekadasi and Dwadasi days signifies the entering in Vaikuntam (Heaven) and attaining Moksha.
It is one of the most enchanting temples of Vaishnavite essence in South India known for its rich legend and history. It is said that due to its location, on an island in Cauvery river, it has rendered itself vulnerable to natural disasters as well as the rampaging of invading armies – Muslim and European. And this has repeatedly been the site for military invasions.
History of Ranganathaswamy Temple
Srirangam is known for the eight self-manifested shrines (Swayam Vyakta Kshetras) of Lord Vishnu that it contains. It is also considered the first of the 108 main Vishnu temples (Divyadesams). This temple is also known as Thiruvaranga Tirupati, Periyakoil, Bhoologa Vaikundam, Bhogamandabam.
In the epic of Silapadikaram composed during the Sangam era, this temple has found its place in the pages. The archaeological inscriptions on the temple are available from the 10th century AD. The inscriptions in the temple belong to the Chola, Pandya, Hoysala and Vijayanagar dynasties who had swayed the destinies of the Tiruchirapalli district. They range in date between the 9th and 16th centuries that are registered epigraphically.
The temple of Sri Ranganathaswami bespeaks of a historic past of great kingdom and a civilization thousands of years old. The reign of the Pallavas was known to be a creation of solid religious foundation. The role played by the dynasty appears to have contributed largely to the growth of Aryan institutions in Southern India more particularly in the Carnatic region. Dynasties that ruled the South—Cholas, Pandiyas, Hoysalas, Nayaks, assisted with the renovation and preservation of the traditional customs. Even during times of internal conflicts amongst these dynasties, notable importance was given to the safety and maintenance of these temples.
A Chola king, once chasing a parrot, accidentally found the idol. He then established the Ranganathaswamy temple as one of the largest temple complexes in the world. There is a lot of hisotry involved behind the enshrining of the deity in the temple. It is said that during the invasion of Malik Kafur the idol was taken to Delhi. The devotees of Srirangams sought to take the idol back. They went to Delhi and enchanted him by their histrionics. The emperor now pleased with them gave the presiding deity of Srirangam back to them. Surathani, the emperor’s daughter, fell in love with the deity and followed him to Srirangam. She declared herself to the God in front of the sanctum sanctorum and is believed to have attained the heavenly abode immediately. Even today, a painting of “Surathani” (known as Thulukha Nachiyar in Tamil) can be seen in her shrine near the Arjuna Mandap adjacent to the sanctum sanctorum for whom, chapathis (wheat bread) are made daily.
Assuming that his daughter has died due to the supernatural powers of the deity Mali Kafur led another invasion to take it back but before him a group led by the vaishnavite acharya (Guru), Pillai Lokacharyar, who died en route to Tirunelveli in Tamil Nadu reached there and took the idol. The Goddess Ranganayaki was taken in another separate procession. 13,000 Sri Vaishnavas, the people of Srirangam, laid down their lives in the fierce battle to ensure that the institution was protected. In the end, devdasis, seduced the army chief, to save the temple.
Significance of Ranganathaswamy Temple
- The temple complex is 156 acres in extent. It has seven prakaras or enclosures. There are 21 magnificent towers in all prakaras providing a unique sight to any visitor.
- The Orlov diamond of 189.62 carats is a large diamond and is a part of the collection of the Diamond Fund of the Moscow Kremlin. This diamond and a similar gem served as the eyes of the deity in the temple. Later it is said to have been stolen during the 2nd Carnatic war fought in Srirangam.
- The temple complex consists shrines of dozens of forms of Vishnu including Chakkarathazhwar, Narasimha, Rama, and Krishna.
- Images of Vibhishana, Brahma, Hanuman, Garuda, the symbols of Vishnu – conch are seen inside the sanctum-sanctorum or the garbbha griha. The Ranganayaki shrine is in the second precinct of the temple. The common reference to the goddess is padi thaanda pathni, meaning lady who doesn’t cross the boundaries of ethics.
- There are 21 gopurams (tower gateways), among which the towering 236-feet Rajagopuram which is the shrine of the main gateway, was the tallest temple tower in Asia until the Rajagopuram of temple Murudeshwara was built by R. N. Shetty .
- The temple also has the Hall of 1000 pillars is a great example of a planned theatre-like structure and opposite to it is the “Sesha Mandap”.
- The Sesha Mandap on the east side of the fourth enclosure of the temple complex is popular. This hall is celebrated for the images of leaping animals carved on to the piers at its northern end.
- One of the most important vows taken for Lord Ranganathaswamy is to perform “Thulabharam” i.e. donating various items such as turmeric, rice, dhal, coins, sugar, rice, jaggery, sugar candy, etc to the equivalent weight of the devotee.
Srirangam Temple Timings
Open for darshan from 9am to 9pm with breaks in between for poojas.
- Viswaroopa Seva takes place from 6 a.m to 7:15 a.m.
- Then comes the pooja time from 7:15 a.m to 9:00 a.m. no darshan is allowed during this time.
- Darshan timing is from 9:00 to 12:00 in the afternoon.
- Pooja time again is from 12 to 13:15 p.m.
- Darshan again is from 13:15 to 6:00 p.m.
- Pooja again takes place from 6:00 p.m. to 6:45 p.m.
- Darshan then again takes place from 6:45 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.
Festivals celebrated at Ranganathaswamy Temple
- Jestabishekam: this is celebrated in the Tamil month, Aani (June-July) in order to rid the accumulated impurities.
- Pavithrothsavam: this is celebrated in the Tamil month, Aani (August –September). It is dedicated to the sacred thread worn by the Lord and for removing blemishes in daily rituals.
- Oonjal: this is Held in Tamil Month Aipasi (October-December) to remove possible blemishes in the Swing. This festival is known as Dolothsavam.
- Ekadesi: this is the most important festival celebrated for full twenty one days during Tamil month Margazhi (December-January). It is divided to two ten days as pagal pathu and ra pathu, with all pomp and glory. On Ekadesi day, the Lord Ranganatha, adorned in splendid garment, proceeds in a grand procession through Paramapada Vasal and arrives at Thirumamani Mandapam in the 1000 pillared hall to the thrill and joy of the devotees gathered from all over India and abroad.
How to Reach Ranganathaswamy Temple
- By air: the Temple is located 15 km from Tiruchirappalli Airport. International and domestic flights are available here.
- By rail: if you are taking the trains then there are trains connecting to the main centers of the area. The temple is about 10 km from the Tiruchirapalli railway junction.
- By road: “Rent a car” facility is available from all rail, road and airport areas. 24 hours Bus Services are available from Tiruchirapalli Railways Station and the Central Bus Stop and Chatiram Bus Stop.
Hotels to stay near Ranganathaswamy Temple
- Hotel Deepam located at W.B.Road, Tiruchirapalli is well known for its appropriate accommodation and good services. It has access to restaurants nearby and good transportation.
- Hotel Mathura located at Rockins Road, Cantonment at Tiruchirapalli is known for its decent services and nice atmosphere.
- Breezy residency at Mcdonalds Road, Tiruchirapalli, is popular for its good location from the Central Bus stop and railway station. The rooms are reviewed to be spacious and well suited.
Places to visit nearby Ranganathaswamy Temple
- The Rockfort Temple is an ancient fort and the temple is situated in the fort’s highest reaches. Rockfort played a major part in the Carnatic wars .
- The Jambukeshwara Temple is one of the 5 major temples in Tamil Nadu which are dedicated to the Hindu deity Lord Shiva.
- The Erumbeeswarar Temple which is dedicated to Shiva, was built by the Chola on an 18 meters tall hill. The temple is built in a Dravidian style.
- Akilandeshwari Temple is located in Thiruvanaikaval and is believed to have been built by Kochenga Chola who was one of the Early Chola kings. There are inscriptions on the walls of the temple that can be traced back to the time of the Cholas.