The Ranganathaswamy Temple in Srirangam, Tamil Nadu, is a Hindu temple for 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 (Heaven) and attaining Moksha.
It is one of the most beautiful temples of Vaishnavite essence in South India famous for its rich legend and history. People believe 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 also has repeatedly been the site for military invasions.
What is the history of Ranganathaswamy Temple?
The history of Ranganathaswamy Temple is that Srirangam is popular for the eight shrines (Swayam Vyakta Kshetras) ofthat it contains. It is also the first of the 108 main Vishnu temples ( ). This temple is also popular 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.
The temple of Sri Ranganathaswami also bespeaks of a historic past of great kingdom and a civilization thousands of years old. The reign of the Pallavas was 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, they gave notable importance 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. Devotees believe 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. And Surathani, the emperor’s daughter, fell in love with the deity and followed him to Srirangam. She then declared herself to the God in front of the sanctum sanctorum and devotees believe that she 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.
What is the significance of Ranganathaswamy Temple?
Significance of Ranganathaswamy is that the temple complex is 156 acres in extent. It has seven prakaras. There are also 21 magnificent towers in all prakaras providing a unique sight to any visitor. The temple complex consists shrines of dozens of forms of Vishnu including Chakkarathazhwar, Narasimha, Rama, and Krishna.
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.
Images of Vibhishana, Brahma, Hanuman, Garuda, the symbols of Vishnu – conch are also visible 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 famous 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.
What are the timings of Ranganathaswamy Temple?
Here are the timings of Srirangam Temple:
|Morning Darshan||9 am||12 pm|
|Viswaroopa Seva||6 a.m||7:15 a.m.|
|Pooja||12 pm||13:15 p.m.|
|Darshan||13:15 pm||6:00 p.m|
|Pooja||6:00 p.m.||6:45 p.m.|
|Darshan||6:45 p.m||9:00 p.m.|
What are the festivals celebrated at Ranganathaswamy Temple?
Some of the festivals celebrated at Ranganathswamy temple are:
- Jestabishekam: this occurs in the Tamil month, Aani (June-July) in order to rid the accumulated impurities.
- Pavithrothsavam: It is in the Tamil month, Aani (August –September). It is in honour of the sacred thread of the Lord.
- Oonjal: The temple organises this festival in Tamil Month Aipasi (October-December) to remove possible blemishes in the Swing. This festival is also popular as Dolothsavam.
- Ekadesi: this is the most important festival that the temple celebrates for full twenty one days during Tamil month Margazhi (December-January). 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?
Here’s how to reach Ranganathaswamy Temple:
- Air: The Temple is 15 away km from Tiruchirappalli Airport.
- Rail: It is 10 km from Tiruchirapalli railway junction.
- Road: “Rent a car” facility is available from rail, road and airport areas. 24 hours Bus Services are available from Tiruchirapalli Railway Station, the Central Bus Stop and Chatiram Bus Stop.
Where to stay near Ranganathaswamy Temple?
Some places where one can stay near Ranganathaswamy Temple are:
- Hotel Deepam at W.B.Road, Tiruchirapalli is popular for its appropriate accommodation and good services. It has access to restaurants nearby and good transportation.
- Hotel Mathura is another place to stay, located at Rockins Road, Cantonment at Tiruchirapalli is famous 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.
What are some temples near Ranganathaswamy Temple?
Some of the temples near Ranganathaswamy Temple are:
- The Rockfort Temple is an ancient fort and the temple is in the fort’s highest reaches. Rockfort also played a major part in the Carnatic wars .
- The Jambukeshwara Temple is one of the 5 major temples in Tamil Nadu for the Hindu deity Lord Shiva.
- The Erumbeeswarar Temple which is in honour of Shiva is on an 18 meters tall hill. Further, the temple has Dravidian style of architecture.
- Akilandeshwari Temple is in Thiruvanaikaval and devotees believe that Kochenga Chola built the temple. There are inscriptions on the walls of the temple that run back to the time of the Cholas.