Srirangam Temple Trichy

By Sanjeev Nayyar | 2016

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We reachd about 12ish from Palani, about a 2 hour drive. Driver Velu took us to a very popular meals rest near the bus stand. First visited Rock Fort temple, reached Srirangam about 5.45 pm and returned next morning as well. "An island where two rivers Cauvery and Kolladam encircle in the sacred spot when God Ranganada is reclining in the Coils of Adi-Sesha. Arangam means an island and Srirangam is also known as Arangam". It is called Sri Ranganatha Swamy Temple.

View of Rajagopuram from Rock Fort temple. It is 236 feet high, a 13 tired Gopuram, made in 1987 and the largest in South India. 20 other gopurams were built between the 14-17th centuries." Captions taken from 2 books ie Temples of Trichy by Sakambharee and Temples of Tamil Nadu by V Narayanswami and official temple site.

Rajagopuram front view. Lord Vishnu in reclining posture. Importantly note in centre at each level painting in ceiling. "Out of the 108 DivyaDesas (sung by Vaishnavite Alwars), this is the only temple that has been eulogised in psalms by all the Alvars. River Cauvery is also called Ponni. Pon means gold. Golden water makes fields fertile and golden harvest results".

Vertical view. Very crowded street. Never ending flow of vehicles and devotees. "Hence Srirangam is called Kanakam and Hemabaks and in that golden plain, Lord Ranga has taken his abode. It has 11 lofty towers forming as entrances, encircled by high walls, 6 miles long. Ramanuja controlled this temple and hence was called Yati Ranjan - king of ascetics."

Doorway to gopuram - stone work. Top mythological animal YALI. "In 1316 A.D. The temple was in complete ruins due to wars. Idols were removed and kept in Tirumalai for sometime. Later on idols were restored to Srirangam. It was in 1571 that temple doors were opened. Town was ruled by Vijayanagara kings, the Nayaks of Madurai and the Maratha chiefs. Eventually the British took control."

Side front view of Rajagopuram. "Temple is considered one of the holy abodes of Lord Vishnu and one of the eight self manifested shrines (Swayam Vyakta Ksetras) of Lord Vishnu. It is also one of the Pancharanga Kshetrams along the course of river Cauvery."

Close up of top front view. Sign indicates it is a Vishnu Mandir. "In the sanctum Lord Vishnu is enshrined as Ranganatha-the reclining position of Lord Vishnu over the Shesha Nag (serpent Adisesha). It is believed that this is the form in which Lord Mahavishnu is open to listening to his devotees'' woes, and blesses them."

Level one close up shows reclining position of Lord Vishnu. Note painting and images at each level. "Temple consists of 7 Concentric rectangular enclosures round the sanctum. It has 7 enclosures which for present day believers represents either the 7 centers of Yoga, or a the 7 elements making up the human body, in the centres of which dwells the soul."

Rear side view. "Nayakar kings started construction of Rajagopurams about 300 years ago, was incomplete due to Muslim invasions. Sri Azhahiyasingar Jeer swamigal of Ahobila mutt built the Rajagopuram 236 feet, 13 tired and 13 Copper Kalasam and carried Kumbabishekam on 25/3/1987."

Rear side Rajagopuram different angle.

Close up centre rear side. Lowest level not clear what the image represents.

Front side gopuram one. Rajagopuram is a 1987 gopuram ie why taking old gopurams this is gopuram 1.

Rear side gopuram one has Lord Vishnu in reclining posture.

Gopuram 2. "This temple is also known as Thiruvaranga Tirupati, Periyakoil, Bhoologa Vaikundam, Bhogamandabam. In the Vaishnava parlance the term "KOIL" signifies this temple only. "

Gopuram 3. This must be Ranga Gopuram I think. Till here there is a market, from here actual temple starts. What is written in Tamil is SRI RANGA, SRI RANGA, SRI RANGA.

Close up gopuram shows various forms of Vishnu as Krishna, Narasimha, Varah. Right see Krishna holding Govardhan mountain. Centre right shows Lord Vishnu in reclining posture.

Side view of the gopuram to give you an idea of intricate work. "Apart from the presiding deity Lord Ranganathar, the temple complex comprises of many other sannathis and about 53 upa-sannathis."

View from gate below gopuram 3. U can see gopuram two.

Rear side of gopuram 3. We entered large open area. Some shops here too. In front is Kamba Ramayana Mandapam and to its left not in pic is Sri Thayaar Shrine.

Front side view of same area.

Images of Lord Vishnu. For such a magnificent temple, hope the temple management has Guides to take devotees to important places in temple. A flier in English and boards in English would also help. To read about Temple Structure on official temple site Click here

Between earlier pic and next gopuram is a hall. Deity taken on palanquin.

Locks tied round the pillar. It is a symbolic prayer by Bhakthas requesting Bhagwan Ranganatha to shut the mouth of their enemies who keep on cursing them. With this prayer devotees tie the lock with the pillar (Dwajasthambam), lock it and take the key with them. Note this is a recent practice and has nothing to do with ancient rituals of the temple.

Entrance to Karthigai gopuram 4. To your left is Sri Ranganathar Vasanta Mandapam, Sri Chakkarathazhvar Sanniti. To your right is thousand pillars mandapam, wow art/sculpture pillars and Sri Ramanujar Sannidhi.

Before entering the sanctum is a Garuda Mandapam that you see. To the left of the Karthigai Gopuram is Sri Sudarasana Moorthy shrine. Here "Sri Sudarsana is the weapon, discuss which Lord Vishnu holds in his upper right hand. He is seen in the temple in an idol form in the mystery symbol of wheel (Chakra) consisting of 6 spokes". Missed seeing this.

This is the biggest image of GARUDA among the 108 Divya Desams. Garuda is the vehicle of Lord Vishnu and the national emblem of Indonesia. "25 feet tall Sri Garuda graces His Vishwarupa darshan opposite the Lord Ranganatha shrine. The dhoti vastra of Sri Garuda is 30 metres long. Abhishek in not performed on Sri Garuda."

Pillar columns show lady dancing. Near the Garuda Mandapam is the Sacred Surya Pushkarani. Missed seeing that. In every Tamil temple always look for the tank.

Overview of pillars in area. Missed seeing shrine of DHANVANTRI, the medicinal God. "Ranganathar is enshrined in a reclining posture (facing the South); while Namperumaal the festival deity in a standing posture is also housed in the main sanctum. "

About 7ish evening outside temple. This the URCHAVA MURTHI of the main deity in the temple. The main deity in the garbagruha is usually made of granite and not moved. Hence they make a replica of the main in the panchloka metal (combination of five metals - an alloy). This murthi is taken around in chariots during important festivals around the maadaveedhis ie the main streets around the temple. This is done to spread divine consciousness in temple town.

Gopuram 5 ie gateway to sanctum. It is called Arya Batal Gopuram. Inside enclosure on south west side is Sri Dasamoorthy shrine, Sri hayagreevar shrine and Sri Saraswathi shrine.

View from gateway at sanctum. Inside is Golden Dwajasthambam (flag post) and Balipeetam. Too much crowd so avoided darshan. This is 3rd closure. Thru second enclosure you see the reflection of the statue of God when it issues from the sanctum. The first enclosure was built by Cozha King Dharma Varma. There are 24 pillars inside this enclosure where one finds Lord Ranganatha in his sleeping posture facing South (Lanka). These 24 pillars denote 24 letters of the Gayatri Mantra.

This is rear side of sanctum, inner wall on right of pic.

Back wall of sanctum. It is called Paramapada Gate. I should gone on top of one of the gopurams and taken a pic of all the gopurams in a line with the sanctum.

I think this is Thayar Sannathi or Lakshimiji ka mandir.

This is another shrine on the north side, not sure what it represents.

This is another shrine on the north side, not sure what it represents. Pic 34 or 35 that are close to Thayar shrine in pic 33 could be an Mettazahagia shrine.

Gopuram just behind sanctum wall which you saw earlier. This is north gate.

Gopuram two in the same direction. For some reason did not click the next gopuram on same side.

You see "On the north western side is the Sri Thayaar (Ranganayagi) Shrine. These mandapams contains fine sculptures, frescos and paintings."

Thousand pillared hall. Right of pic is white gopuram.

View of elephant on side wall-what work.

Side view of 1000 pillared hall. Note the reliefs at bottom of plinth. "Supported by 951 monolithic pillars, this hall was erected by Danda Naicka and Perumal Devan of the period of Rama Deva of Vijayanagar."

Reliefs. Left and centre relief shows ladies. Left has 3 ladies, centre seems like a queen with her attendants, right seems like King.

Overview of hall with sculptures of horses, four on each side called ''Seshagiri Rayar mandapam. In the forefront are masterpieces of art. Prancing horses with riders are so real it is difficult to believe. It is a hunting scene fighting tigers. It reflects the skill of the artist of Vijayanagara period."

Side view of horses, amazing work. Essentially two designs, both have warrior sitting on horse. Left to right horse 3 shows horse feet on top of Yali whose tusk goes to a elephant below. Design two shows the back side of YALI with 2 men on side. Note sculptures at base and temple like design at top.

This one has different design. Left shows man standing on whose shoulder is a man sitting with a covering dividing the man and horse feet and two men behind so 4 men in sculpture. Right shows man with I think a shield protecting himself from horse feet.

East tower is called VELLAI gopuram as it is painted white. Of the 21 gopurams in temple, this is the most magnificent, barring the Rajgopuram".

Rear side view of gopuram two, after this is white gopuram.

Side view of gopuram 3.

Entrance to Sri Ramanujar Sannidhi. You must go for darshan inside. Very powerful place. Srirangam was a seat of Vaishnav philosophy. Its most o/s leader was the famous Vaishnava teacher Sri Ramanuja. The philosophy of his teaching is known as Visishavaita. "His Swayam Thirumeni (the symbolic body) is preserved and offered prayers even today after 8 centuries".

Whilst walking away from Sri Ramanujar Sannidhi saw this palanquin being carried away.

Flower sellers outside main gopuram.

Between gopuram 2 and 3 turn left for this lovely temple. I think it is ANDAL shrine.

Centre image is Shri Krishna playing a flute. Right is lady playing a musical instrument. Not sure what lady on right is doing but she has a parrot close to her feet. On either side of Krishna is a KALASH.

Sculptures on wall. Left niche has lady image, right is man with a elephant. Read Chitra travelogue on temple, she writes well Click here

End part of wall. Right pic is man and woman. Kalash on extreme left of pic. Centre man do not know. To see pics of temples most of which are not on this album Click here

Temple chariot. To see a 9 minute video of the temple Click here

Side view of one of the gopurams loved it. Temple very clean and well maintained. More directions in English would help. To see pics/video on temple site Click here

5 kms away from this temple is the Sri Jambukeshwarar Temple. Pic inside temple. It is a must visit Shiv mandir. Here the lingam is partially submerged by water and meant to represent the God as water. To see pics of Rock Fort Temple Click here

20 kms away from Trichy enroute to Gangaikondacholapuram is Grand Anicut. "The Kallanai Dam was “[built] during the 2nd century AD by Karikalan, a king of southern India''s old Chola Dynasty” and “is also one of the oldest irrigation systems in the world that is still in use". To read more Click here

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