Thiruvaranga Tirupati, also popularly known as Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple, is one of the most beautiful Vaishnaw temples in India. The temple is dedicated to Ranganatha, a reclining form of Lord Vishnu. Located on the magnificent island of Srirangam, and bounded by the rivers Kaveri and Kollidam, the temple is one of the most sacred pilgrimage centre of our country. The temple is also amongst the first of the 108 Divya Desams which is dedicated to Lord Vishnu.
Srirangam is a part of Tiruchirapalli, located in Southern India. The Sri Ranganathaswamy temple is also the country’s largest temple complex. Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple is the largest functioning Hindu temple in the entire world with an area covering a massive 6,32,000 square metres!
Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple Structure
Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple is the oldest amongst the 8 self-manifested shrines of Lord Vishnu. The temple is popularly also known as Bhogamandabam, Periyakoil, Thiruvaranga Tirupati and Bhoologa Vaikundam.
The temple itself has seven enclosures. Each enclosure is formed out of thick walls which run around the sanctum sanctorum. There are a total of 21 colourful towers across all the enclosures which provide a unique sight to all devotees visiting the temple. The five inner enclosures compromise the temple, while the other two serve as the settlement. Many a times, the distinction between the temple as well as the settlement gets blurred, and hence the temple is also referred as the Srirangam temple.
The town-temple typology is quite unique in India and the Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple is an excellent example for the same. The temple is constructed on the Dravidian style of architecture. It is also amongst the largest religious complexes across the globe including the Vatican City, Angkor Wat, Machu Picchu, Potala Palace, and Borobodur.
In addition to the 7 enclosures and 21 gopurams, the temple also has around 50 sub shrines, a dome spread across the sanctum sanctorum of the deity, few fresco paintings, as well as 9 scared pools. The entire temple complex was planned, designed, executed as well as used based on the vigorous exchange of human values between the ruler and the general public. A portion of the temple is dedicated only for regular sevas and activities of the Vaishnav Cult. The rest of the portion observes the human settlement filled with routine activities. The temple thus serves as the nucleus with the human settlement cantered around it.
There is another feature that is quite unique to this temple-town typology. The layout is such that starting with the outer walls located at the eastern side of the sanctuary, there are sanctified mini-mandapams housing Lord Vishnu’s feet in a straight line through the 7 enclosures.
The Arya-bhata as well as the Paramapada gates along with the inner 3 enclosures form the Inner Court where as the rest of the enclosures form the Outer Court.
What is the historical significance of the temple?
As per Hindu Puraana, the main idol at the Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple was worshipped by Lord Brahma, the creator and was presented to Lord Indra. He in turn, gifted the idol to Lord Rama as a gift on his return to Ayodhya. Lord Rama in turn gifted this idol to Vibhishana, brother of Ravana.
It was indicated that Vibhishana must not place the idol on the ground. On his way back to Lanka, he halted at Srirangam. He had to take out the idol from Ranga Vimana, the royal chariot, and placed it on the ground. Following that day, the idol of Lord Vishnu is said to have fixed to the ground where Vibhishana had left it.
When is the best time to visit the Srirangam Temple?
You can visit the Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple almost any day of the year. However, when visiting the place during major festivals gives you an entirely new experience. The ideal time to visit the temple is between 3:00 PM and 5:00 PM. The temple is usually closed only due to special reason and remains mostly open to visitors. Normally, Srirangam temple timings are 6 AM to 0 PM.
How to reach the Srirangam Temple?
Srirangam is very well connected with the rest of the country through well-established roadways. The nearest airport from Srirangam is in Trichy. The airport is located at a mere distance of 15 kms from the temple. The Tiruchirapalli railway junction is also at a distance 9 kms from the temple. You can also reach the place through buses which are regularly connected to this place.
What is the dress code to be followed at the Srirangam Temple?
The Srirangam temple has strict dressing codes for its visitors. All the devotees must enter the temple in traditional Indian outfits. There are restricted entries in certain part of the temple and it is to be noted that only the priest can access the sanctum sanctorum. The general public cannot touch the main idol of Lord Vishnu.
What are the stay options available in Srirangam?
You can come across a large number of stay options while visiting Srirangam. Several lodges and restaurants offer decent accommodation in economical prices.