Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple or Thiruvarangam is a Hindu temple dedicated to Ranganatha, a reclining form of Hindu deity.Temple is counted among the 108 Divya Desams dedicated to Vishnu. The temple follows Thenkalai tradition of worship.
The temple is mentioned in Tamil literature in the Sangam era, including the epic Silapadikaram However, archaeological inscriptions are available only from the 10th century AD. The inscriptions in the temple belong to the Chola, Pandya, Hoysala and Vijayanagar dynasties who successively swayed the destinies of the Tiruchirapalli district. They range in date between the 9th and 16th centuries and are registered by the epigraphical society.
The location where the Ranganathan idol was placed was later covered by an overgrowth of deep forests, due to disuse. After a very long time, a Chola king, chasing a parrot, accidentally found the idol. He then established the Ranganathaswamy temple as one of the largest temple complexes in the world. According to historians, most dynasties that ruled the South—Cholas, Pandiyas, Hoysalas, Nayaks, assisted with renovation and in the observance of the traditional customs. Even during periods of internal conflicts amongst these dynasties, utter importance was given to the safety and maintenance of these temples.
It is said that a Chola king presented the temple with a golden serpent couch. Some historians identify this king with Rajamahendra Chola, supposedly the son of Rajendra Chola II. But it is of interest to note that he never figures in the latter's inscriptions, neither in the 4th year nor in the 9th year. Srirangam temple from Rock Fort, Trichy During the period of invasion by Malik Kafur and his forces in 1310–1311, the idol of the deity was stolen and taken to Delhi. In a daring exploit, devotees of Srirangam ventured to Delhi and enthralled the emperor with their histrionics. Moved by their talent, the emperor was pleased to gift them the presiding deity of Srirangam, which was requested by the performers.
Things took a drastic turn immediately. Surathani, his daughter, had fallen in love with the deity and followed him to Srirangam. She prostrated 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" can be seen in her shrine near the Arjuna Mandap adjacent to the sanctum sanctorum for whom, chappathis are made daily. The kalyana utsavam or wedding of Lord Ranganathar with Surathani is performed with great pomp every year. Having assumed that the magical power of the deity had killed his daughter, there was a more severe second invasion to Srirangam in 1323 AD. The presiding deity was taken away before the Malik Kafur's troops reached Srirangam by a group led by the vaishnavite Acharaya , Pillai Lokacharyar, who died en route to Tirunelveli in Tamil Nadu. 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, Devadasis, the danseuse of Srirangam, seduced the army chief, to save the temple. Orlov diamond depiction After nearly six decades, the presiding deity returned to Srirangam and the same Swami Vedanta Desika, who had built a brick wall in front of the sanctum sanctorum, broke it open. The deity and the priestly wardens wandered southwards towards Madurai, then northeast towards Kerala, Mysore, Tirunarayanapuram, and finally in the hills of Tirumala Tirupati, where they remained until their reinstatement in 1371.
The Orlov diamond of 189.62 carats , is a large diamond that is part of the collection of the Diamond Fund of the Moscow Kremlin. The origin of this resplendent relic – described as having the shape and proportions of half a hen's egg. This diamond and a similar gem served as the eyes of the deity in the temple. Legends hold that a French soldier who had deserted during the Carnatic wars in Srirangam.Mention of the 2nd Carnatic war that was fought in Srirangam disguised himself as a Hindu convert and stole it in 1747.erected in the 17th century
The temple is enclosed by 7 concentric walls with a total length of 32,592 feet or over six miles. This temple has 21 gopurams, 39 pavilions, fifty shrines, Ayiram kaal mandapam and several small water bodies inside. The space within the outer two prakarams is occupied by several shops, restaurants and flower stalls. Non-Hindus are allowed up to the second prakaram but not inside the gold topped sanctum sanctorum.
The vimanam , the Ranga vimana is shaped like Omkara and is plated with gold. Sri Ranganthar reclines on Adisesha, the coiled serpent. Images of Vibhishana, Brahma, Hanuman, Garuda, the symbols of Vishnu – conch and discuss are seen inside the sanctum.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. Literally, the festival deity of Ranganayaki also does not come out of the shrine and it is Ranganthar who visits Ranganayaki.
There are three images of Ranganayaki within the sanctum. The complex houses shrines of dozens of forms of Vishnu including Chakkarathazhwar, Narasimha, Rama, Hayagreeva and Gopala Krishna. The Chakrathazhwar shrine is East facing on the South side of Akalanka precinct. The sanctum is approached through a Mukamandapa built during the Cholas and a Mahamandapa with six rows of eight pillars built during the period of Vijayanagar Empire. There is a circumambulation passage around the sanctum. The image of Chakrathazhwar is sculpted with Narasimha on the rear side and can be viewed from the passage around the sanctum.There are separate shrines for Ranganayaki and the major saints in the Vaishnava tradition, including Ramanuja. The Venugopala shrine in the south-west corner of the fourth enclosure of the temple is the work of Chokkanatha Nayak. An inscription of 1674 specifies this Nayak king as the patron. The exterior of the vimana and attached mandap (hall) have finely worked pilasters with fluted shafts, double capitals and pendant lotus brackets.
Sculptures are placed in the niches of three sides of the sanctuary walls; maidens enhance the walls in between. The elevation is punctuated with the secondary set of pilasters that support shallow eaves at different levels to cap larger and smaller recesses. The sanctuary is crowned in the traditional fashion with a hemispherical roof. The double-curved eaves of the entrance porch on the east side are concealed in a later columned hall.Dhanvantari, a great physician of ancient India is considered to be an avatar of Vishnu – there is a separate shrine of Dhanvantari within the temple.
Ranganathaswamy Temple Srirangam
Sriranga Mahathmiyam is the compilation of religious accounts of the temple which detail the origins of its greatness.According to it, Lord Rama, an Avatar of Vishnu, worshipped the idol for a long time, and when he returned victoriously from Sri Lanka after killing Ravana, he gave it to King Vibhishana as a token of appreciation for supporting him against Vibhishana's own brother, Ravana. When Vibhishana was going via Trichy en route to Sri Lanka, the deity wanted to stay in Srirangam. Ranganatha, captivated by the devotion of a King called Dharma Varma, who was doing penance to have Lord Ranganatha to permanently stay Srirangam, stayed put, promising to cast his benign glance eternally on Lanka.
Hence it is that the deity faces South. As per another account, he was carrying it all the way to his kingdom of Sri Lanka and midway, to rest, he placed the image on the banks of Cauvery. After performing his routine pooja, he tried to lift the Vimana, but it could not be lifted. Mahavishnu appeared to him and said that he desired to stay as Ranganatha in the place, which went on to become Srirangam. Vishnu also desired to watch the Brahmotsavam at Tirucherai. The festivals of the temple are thus considered sacred
It is one of the most illustrious Vaishnava temples in South India rich in legend and history. Its location, on an island in Cauvery river, has rendered it vulnerable to natural disasters as well as the rampaging of invading armies – Muslim and European – which repeatedly commandeered the site for the military encampment. The main entrance, known as the Rajagopuram, rises from the base area of around 13 cents and goes up to 237 feet , moving up in eleven progressively smaller tiers.
The annual 21-day festival conducted during the Tamil month of Margazhi attracts 1 million visitors. Srirangam temple is often listed as the largest functioning Hindu temple in the world, the still larger Angkor Wat being the largest existing temple. The temple occupies an area of 156 acres with a perimeter of 4,116m making it the largest temple in India and one of the largest religious complexes in the world.