Located in the city of Tirruchirappalli on a small island surrounded by river Kaveri and Coleroon, Shree Ranganathaswamy Temple is a miraculous construction of Srirangam. It is one of the most revered temples among 108 pilgrimage shrines of Vishnu. Spread on an area spanning 156 acres makes it one of the largest temple complexes all over the India.
The interesting story behind Srirangam temple, is that the idol in the temple was getting carried from India to Sri Lanka by Vibhishana. While resting on his journey, he had set the statue over the ground. On resuming his journey, he tried to carry the statue with him but he couldn’t as divine supernatural powers had manifested the statue at the same place. Hundreds of hands could not move the idol from that place and then a small temple was built over it. Since then the complex had been built several times over the period. It has not been possible by the archaeologists to find out the original date of its invention yet. But as per the approximation, with respect to other temples standing today, it can be estimated to have been between 14th to 17th centuries.
Srirangam is also known as one of the Nav-Graha Sthalas or the temple representing planets. It is believed that one who gets ‘Darshan’ at the time of Vaikunta Ekadashi and Dwadashi enter Vaikuntdhama and attains moksha. The temple comprises of thirteen stories, completely covered with intricately carved, ingeniously painted statues of many incarnations of Vishnu. Lord Vishnu has reincarnated himself as Ram, Krishna, Buddha and many others. The temple’s architecture is beyond artistic expression, these sculptures function as three-dimensional story books of Hindu mythology.
Over the 2000 years Srirangam has been the centre of Bhakti Yoga the practice of devotional love to God as the spiritual path leading to enlightenment.
Many of the devotees and the most loved saints have devoted their lives at Srirangam temple including the 11th century sage of Ramnujan, who had lived here during his last years and then was buried in the temple grounds.
Some of the most interesting facts about the temple:
- It is the foremost of the eight self-manifested shrines (Swayam Vyakta Kshetras) of Lord Vishnu .
- It is not just a temple but a temple-town, unique in its sapta-prakaram formation, a temple centred settlement pattern that comprises of seven concentric rectangular enclosures or prakarams formed by thick and huge rampart walls that run round the sanctorum in which the deity presides.