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"To us all towns are one, all men our kin.
Life's good comes not from others' gift, nor ill
Man's pains and pains' relief are from within.
Thus have we seen in visions of the wise !."

- Tamil Poem in Purananuru, circa 500 B.C 

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HomeTamils - a Trans State Nation > Culture & the Tamil Contribution to World Civilisation > Dravidian Temple Architecture  > Srirangam Temple, Tiruchi

CONTENTS
OF THIS SECTION
Last updated
27/06/07

Attraction of Sri Rangam - Gita Aravamudan, 1997
Architecture of Srirangam
Ranganatha Temple at Monuments of India (16 pages)

Srirangam Sri Aranganathaswamy Temple

Attacks on Sri Rangam Temple - Vishal Agarwal
Sri Rangam Vishnu Temple

DRAVIDIAN
TEMPLE ARCHITECTURE

Srirangam Temple, Tiruchi
Chola Period (9th - 13th century) with later additions

 "...This is the foremost of the 108 shrines glorified by the Alwars; all of the Alwars with the exception of Madhurakavi Alwar have sung of its glory... Undoubtedly the largest temple in India, and one among the grandest, it is a treasure house of art freezing various architectural styles over a period of time. It boasts of the tallest temple tower in India.." Renganathar Temple - Srirangam

"Srirangam, surrounded by the waters of river Kaveri, is a 600 acre island-town enclosed within the seven walls of the gigantic Sri Ranganathaswami Temple. There are 21 gopurams, among which the Rajagopuram (on the left) is the largest in South India -  it is 72m (about 220 feet) in height, and dates from the 17th century, although it was completed only in 1987.

The temple complex  measures 950m by 816m (about a half-mile square) along its outer perimeter. "It consists of seven nested enclosures (plan), whose walls are pierced by towered gates (gopuras) along the four cardinal axes leading from the shrine. Visitors approach from the south, and the shrine faces in this direction. The temple's outer three enclosures contain an entire town, with streets, houses, and shops. The inner four enclosures define the religious zone. The temple is dedicated to Vishnu Ranganatha (i.e., Vishnu sleeping on the cosmic serpent)."

A Brief History of the Srirangam Temple  -  Professor. V.S. Seshadri, Srirangam, from ``Sri Nrusimha Priya''

"Srirangam, the premier Vaishnava temple in South India is the first and foremost among the 108 Vaishnava divyadesas. All the Alvars have sung in praise of the deity enshrined in the huge temple in the center of the town. The Sri Vaishnava Acharyas from Nathamuni are found to have taken an active and abiding interest in the management of the temple. During Ramanuja's time, far reaching reforms were introduced both in the religious and secular management. Thus Srirangam has an eventful history, both secular and religious, as the great Vaishnava Acharyas made it the headquarters of the wider Vaishnava movement. Here is an attempt to present its eventful history in a nutshell - both the traditional and historical.

In the Vaishnava parlance, the term "Koil" signifies the Srirangam temple only. The temple is enormous in size. The temple complex is 156 acres in extent. It has seven Prakaras or enclosures or Tiru Veedhis. These enclosures are formed by thick and huge rampart walls which run round the sanctum. The total length of these seven walls is 32,592 feet or over six miles. There are magnificent towers in all Prakaras providing a unique sight to any visitor. The latest addition is the 236 feet high stupendous thirteen tiered Rajagopuram built at the southern rampart by the late 44th Jeeyar of the Sri Ahobila Mutt and consecrated in 1987 with great fanfare and religious piety. The grandeur of the towers decrease as one moves away from, them towards the sanctum signifying that the devotee has to move away from the lofty earthly attachments in his spiritual quest...

With the rise of Buddhism and Jainism in the Tamil country, there arose a strong reaction against their growing influence. This found expression in a wide movement among the worshippers of Vishnu and Siva. The Vaishnava resurgent movement was spearheaded by the Alvars who brought religion to the heart of the people. They employed Tamil (the local language) as the medium of expression and composed the exuberant devotional songs - celebrated as the "Nalayira Divya Prabandham".

The shrines visited and glorified by them became holy places (Divya Desas). The temple at Srirangam and the Deity enshrined therein have been sung by all of them.

A total of 247 hymns in the Nalayiram is found to be dedicated to the Lord of Srirangam as shown below:

Periyalvar 35
Andal 10
Kulasekhara Alvar 31
Tirumalisai Alvar 14
Tondaradippodi Alvar 55
Tirruppanalvar 10
Tirumangai Alvar 73
Poygai Alvar 1
Bhoothatalvar 4
Peyalvar 2
Nammalvar 12 ..

... Numerous inscriptions appear on the walls and other places. They exceed over 600. They furnish us with a variety of information about the benefactions made by the ruling classes from time to time and also about the social, economic and political conditions..."

Architecture of Srirangam

 "Architecturally the temple of Srirangam is unique among the great temples of South India. The Sculptures found in the temple are some of the finest.


1000 Pillar Mandapam

The 1000 pillared mantapa, Horse Court, Garuda Mantapa, Ranga Vilasam, Vasantha Mantapa, the mirror room are worth seeing. Sri Ranganatha in the Sanctum - Sanctorum in the lying posture is a charming idol of great beauty and grace." Srirangam



Horse Court


Krishna playing the flute


Veena

Attraction of Sri Rangam - Gita Aravamudan, 1997

 "No one really knows when the Srirangam temple came into being. The actual shrine is supposed to have risen out of the Paarkadal (Ocean) itself as a result of Brahma's penance. According to legend, Ikshvaku, a descendant of Surya, the Sun God, who was appointed to take care of the daily worship, is supposed to have kept it in his capital, Ayodhya. His descendant, Sri Rama presented the shrine to Vibishana when he attended his coronation. When Vibhishana, who was carrying it back on his head to Sri Lanka, rested briefly at Srirangam, the shrine got rooted there. Sri Ranganathaswami, the legend goes, then appeared before him and said he wished to stay on the banks of the Cauvery. He however promised the disconsolate Vibhishana that he would always lie facing Sri Lanka. Vibishana, it is believed comes even today to pray at the temple.

The temple does have a traceable history which is quite awesome. It is mentioned in the Silappadikaram as well as in the Nalayira Divyaprabandham which date back to the third century. Koil Olugu, a chronicle of the temple, written around the 11th Century attributes the construction of one of the enclosures to Tirumangaialvar, who is supposed to have lived there during the seventh century. Periyalvar, whose adopted daughter Andal was an ardent devotee of Ranganathaswamy, has also described the temple in his verses. Outside the main temple there is a small shrine supposed to have been built on the spot where Andal became one with the Lord. "

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