One of the most magnificent religious architectures of India and a revered Hindu temple, Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple inSriranga Island inTiruchirapalli, Tamil Nadu, is home to Lord Ranganatha, a form of Lord Vishnu in resting pose. Lord Ranganatha is often described as Nam Perumal and AzahagiyaManavaalan, the Tamil translation for which is ‘our god’ and ‘beautiful groom’ respectively. The temple is considered as one of the eight swayambukshetras of Lord Vishnu as per Alwar – the tradition of Tamil Nadu’s poet saints – the splendor of it has seen the templebecome the only one to have been praised by all of them in their chants. All together created as many as 247 pasurams or chants to praise the temple and the deity dwelling in it.
TheRanganathaswamy temple is spread over across 155 acres complex and is the world's largest operational Hindu temple with thousands of devotees coming from across the globe. The temple has the tallest gopuram (the temple towers) in all South India and its magnificent rajagopuram is sitting at 237 feet above the complex base, moving up in 11 rising tiers. The temple has a unique honour of being in the lead among the 108 DivyaDesams dedicated to Lord Vishnu and holds a lot of religious and spiritual significance. The temple boasts of a magnificent façade that is the Dravidian style of architecture with the walls carved intricately with distinct sculptures and the vibrant colors adorning the temple structure which makes it a marvelous sight to behold. the temple complex is surrounded by the river Kaveri which enhances the beauty of the temple and devotees usually take a dip into the holy water of the river before entering the temple complex. The town of Sriranga is a temple town with settlements around the temple and besides being of religious significance, is also a prominent archaeological and epigraphical site, offering a historic window into the early and mid-medieval South Indian society and its culture.
Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple has a rich history associated to it. The oldest inscriptions inside the temple complex depicts that the temple was consecrated in 984 AD by Tirumalaiah, who belonged to the Western Ganga Dynasty. The region was reigned by several dynasties over the years and the proof of it can be seen in the architecture of the temple complex. Vishnuvardhana, the King of Hoysala, allowed a Vaishnava saint Ramanujcharya in the 12th century to use Srirangapatna as a place of learning.
There were some additions and renovations made to the temple complex by King Veera Ballala II of Hoysala dynasty in 1210 AD which have been carved in various inscriptions on the structure. There are several other carvings on the structure that signify the architectural style of Vijayanagara Dynasty and the Mysore Kingdom. Other dynasties also made some changes and additions to the temple in the later years which resulted in the construction we see today.
The architecture of Sri Ranganathaswamy temple is a blend of styles that were contributed to it by the various rulers who ruled the region and took an interest in adding some personal and traditional touches of their own to the temple’s look.
The temple, as it stands today, has a total of four majestic pillars with carvings that show 24 forms of Lord Vishnu, which was added during the Hoysalas rule and is an example of their architectural style. Inside, it has magnificent walls with artworks and a Navaranga Mandapam (i.e., a hall or pavilion where the deity is kept, and the temple rituals are conducted) surrounding the sanctum sanctorum of the temple. The temple complex also consists of two more halls, Mukhmandap (the front hall), and a Sukhnasi (an Antichamber). The Mukhmandap is decorated with miniature Shikharas (towers) and have fine stucco work of lord Vishnu. The chief shrine has a recliningpostureidol of Lord Vishnu on the serpent along with Goddess Lakshmi on his feet ad some other idols of Lord Vishnu around him. There are some small yet stunning shrines inside the temple as well that are dedicated to Srinivasa, Gopalkrishna, Narasimha, Garuda, and Hanuman to name a few.
The temple’s “Prakaram” (i.e., outer part around the temple’s sanctum) which has been painted with wide array of mythological stories from Hinduism and Vaishnavism (related to Lord Vishnu). The Gopuram (top) of the temple has intricate carvings that were added during the rule of Vijayanagaradynasty and reflect Vijayanagara architecture.
Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple is open to visitors between 6 AM and 9 PM every day, on all days of the week.
The entry to this temple is free - visitors are not charged any fee to simply enter the temple. However, people need to pay different fees for each of the “darshans” or different rituals within the temple. A fee of about of INR 250 per head is applicable for the “quick darshan”, whereas a fee of INR 50 applicable for a ritual called “Vishwaroopa Seva”.
Srirangam is close to the capital city of Chennai in Tamil Nadu state, and it can be reached by air, rail, or road.
A delight to the eyes and soul, Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple in Tamil Nadu is a stunning splendor and marvel of architectural brilliance and religious prominence and the holy abode of Lord Vishnu which is visited by devotees across the globe in search penance.