108 Divya Desam Temples, Tiruchirapalli District
Renganatha Perumal, facing south
Srirenga Naachiyar, facing south
There are about 53 Upasannadhis and some of them are for Chakrathazhwar, Ramanujar, Dhanvantri, Hyagrevar, Garuda, Rama, Gopalakrishna. A detailed list and layout is being prepared and will be updated soon.
Srirangam is the largest functional Hindu temple in the world. This massive temple complex has 7 Prakarams, 21 Gopurams, about 60 shrines and extends for nearly a kilometer in length and width covering about 156 acres of land. The south Rajagopuram completed in 1987 is 236 feet tall and has 13 copper Kalasams on top. The amazing 1000-pillared hall was constructed with granite in the Vijayanagara period. Saint Ramanuja’s body is preserved here in the Vasantha Mantapam. The Ramayana of Kamba was released from here. The famous Orlov Diamond in Moscow is believed to have been stolen from here by a French deserter. It is the size of half an egg and is said to have adorned one of the eyes of the lord. Srirangam is one of the five Pancharanga Kshetrams on the banks of the Kaveri River – listed from upstream to downstream, 1.Srirangapatnam (near Mysore), 2. Srirangam, 3.Appalarangam or Koviladi, 4.Parimala Ranganatha Perumal Temple at Indalur, Mayiladuthurai, and 5.Vadarangam at Sirkazhi. The Sarangapani temple at Kumbakonam is considered Vadarangam by some. Several great books have been published in the past which describe each and every aspect of this temple in intricate detail.
Holy Water (Theertham) – Chandra Pushkarini, Cauvery, Kollidam
Holy Tree – Punnai (Calophyllum inophyllum)
Vimaanam – Pranavakruti Vimaanam
11 of the 12 Azhwars (6th – 9th Century CE) have sung the praise of the Lord here at Srirangam. Chola King Dharmavarman initially built this as a small temple. Later several dynasties including Pandyas, Cheras, Hoysalas, and Vijayanagar contributed to making it into its unimaginable proportions today. The temple is mentioned in the Sangam Era literature including the Silappadikaram. But stone inscriptions are available only from the 10th Century CE. Chola King Dharmavarman is initially believed to have built this as a small temple. The temple was in active worship and is mentioned in the Sangam Era (3rd Century BC to 3rd Century CE) literature (Ahananuru, 2nd or 3rd Century CE) and later in the Silappadikaram (6th Century CE). Later several dynasties including Pandyas, Cheras, Hoysalas, and Vijayanagar contributed to the development of the Srirangam temple. 11 of the 12 Azhwars (6th – 9th Century CE) have sung the praise of the Lord here at Srirangam. But it was during the Chola Period that Srirangam temple reached its unimaginable proportions and architectural expansion seen today. Stone inscriptions from Chola, Hoysala, Pandya, and Vijayanagar periods are available from the 10th Century CE onwards. After the weakening of the Chola expire the Pandya Kings became more powerful and Jatavarman Sundara Pandya I (1251-1268 CE) contributed greatly to the Srirangam Temple. This included covering many parts of the temple with gold, conducted Tulabharas (measure) to donate his weight’s equal of treasures and even one special event called Elephant Tulabhara. Two boats of equal weight were floated in the Cauvery. The king on his elephant mount climbed aboard one and the other one was filled with treasures till the boats were even and were donated to the temple. Chera Kings also contributed plenty of wealth. 11 of the 12 Azhwars (6th – 9th Century CE) have sung the praise of the Lord here at Srirangam.
Srirangam has survived the onslaught of 2 Muslim invasions. One was by Alauddin Khilji, Sultan of Delhi who sent his commander Malik Kafur between 1310 and 1311 CE. During this time the temple was looted, locals killed and the processional deity was taken away. The return of the processional deity is a legendary incident in which a group of temple authorities received information from a lady who followed the invaders all the way to Delhi. The deity had become the favorite of the princess in the Sultanate. The temple group performed various music recitations and when offered gifts by the Sultan, decline and asked for the Deity instead. This was granted and the deity was taken away while the princess was asleep. Though the sultan sent an army to chase and recover the deity on the insistence of the princess, they met with failure. They reached Srirangam with the princess and discovered the deity was not there too. The princess died in Srirangam. A shrine for her is seen today in the first Prakaram for Bibi Nachiyar, as she came to be called.
The second Muslim invasion was in the 14th Century CE during the reign of Ghias Ud Din Tuglaq his son Ulugh Khan (later to be crowned as Mohamad Bin Tuglaq) came with a vast army. This invasion finds mention in many Tamil Literatures. At this time due to the timely and wise actions of the temple priests and some locals, the processional deity was taken away for safety and kept in different temples including Jyotish Kudi, Thirumaliruncholai, Kozhikode, Tirukkanambi, Melkote, and Tirumala for about 48 years. The Muslims occupants and their local allies in the Madurai area were defeated by Kumara Kampana (son of a chieftain in Karnataka) in 1369-70 CE who also set about bringing all the temples that suffered under the Muslim invasions to their past glory. This news was heard joyously by a chieftain called Gopana who was a Vijayanagar Feudatory ruling over Senji (Gingee) and he set off to Thirumala to bring back the processional deity – Azhagiya Manavala. He kept it in Senji and then marched to Srirangam, defeated the Muslim ruler, and reinstated the deities of the Lord and his Consort at Srirangam to the joy of all.
Lord Brahma after creating the Universe performed severe penances to Lord Vishnu. As a result of this, the Ranga Vimaanam rose up from the Ocean of Milk. Lord Vishnu reclined inside this Vimaanam which was taken to Brahma’s abode Satyaloka and the Sun God was delegated to perform daily rituals. In his lineage was born Ikshvaku who brought it to Ayodhya with the blessings and approval of Lord Brahma. Lord Rama, a descendant of this lineage of the Sun God, is believed to have given the Ranga Vimaanam and Deity to Vibeeshana (Ravana’s brother) as a token of his gratitude after his victorious war and subsequent coronation at Ayodhya. On his way back to Sri Lanka Vibeeshana rested here and could not move it. The lord expressed his desire to stay here at Srirangam to Vibeeshana and as his blessing, he decided to face south towards Sri Lanka. A king called Dharmavarman then believed built the early temple around the Vimaanam.
You cannot miss it when you reach Tiruchirapalli! It is the heart of Srirangam Town, an island between the Cauvery and Kollidam Rivers north of Tiruchirapalli.
Stay and Food
A lot of places serve wonderful food here and several hotels and choultries are available.