ranganathaswamy-temple

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The Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple or Thiruvarangam is a Hindu temple dedicated to Ranganatha, a reclining form of Hindu deity, Vishnu located in Srirangam, Tiruchirapalli, Tamil Nadu, India . Constructed in the Dravidian style of architecture, this temple is glorified in the Thiviya Pirabandham, the early medieval Tamil literature canon of the Alvar saints from the 6th to 9th centuries AD and is counted among the 108 Divya Desams dedicated to Vishnu. The temple follows Thenkalai tradition of worship.

Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple, also known as Thiruvaranga Tirupati, is one of the most illustrious Vaishna temples in the country, dedicated to Ranganatha, a reclining form of Hindu deity, Bhagwan (God or Lord) Vishnu. Situated in an ethereal setting on the island of Srirangam that is bounded by the two rivers of Cauvery and Kollidam (a tributary of Cauvery), this living temple and sacred centre of pilgrimage is counted as the first and foremost among the 108 Divya Desams dedicated to Bhagwan Vishnu.

More importantly, it is not just a temple but a temple-town, unique in its Sapta-Prakaram formation, a temple centred settlement pattern that comprises of Sapta (seven) concentric rectangular enclosures or prakarams formed by thick and huge rampart walls that run round the sanctum sanctorum in which the deity presides. While the inner five enclosures of the complex constitute the temple, the outer two enclosures function as the settlement. Thus, the distinction between the temple and the settlement gets blurred and the temple is also referred to as Srirangam many a times. This Temple-Town typology is unique to this part of the world and Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple is an exceptional example of the same.

Constructed in the Dravidian style of architecture, the Temple Complex is massive in scale and spread over 156 acres (63.131 hectares). According to some scholars, this makes Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple the largest Functioning Temple in the World and is often found ranked amongst the largest religious complexes of the world, including the Potala Palace in Lhasa, Tibet, Angkor Wat in Cambodia, Borobodur in Indonesia, Machu Picchu in Peru and the Vatican City.

Apart from the 7 prakarams with massive walls, the Temple Complex has 21 very colourful sculpted gopurams (consecrated gateways with towers), 50 sub shrines, 9 sacred pools, gilded Vimana (dome) over the sanctum sanctorum of the presiding deity, and other interesting features such as fresco paintings. Active interchange of human values was happening between the public and rulers in planning, designing, executing and using the Temple complex. Part of the temple is dedicated to the temple with its regular sevas, festivals and activities of Vaishnav Cult. The other part is vibrant with regular human settlement with all its daily routines and events. The temple is the nucleus and the life of people is centred around it.

Another unique feature of the Srirangam Temple-cum-Township lay-out is that starting with the eastern outer wall of the Sanctuary, there are consecrated mini-Mandapams housing the blessed feet of the Lord in collinear formation through the Seven Enclosures.

The inner three enclosures taken together, with the Arya-bhata and the Parama-pada gates defining the south-north axis, constitute the Inner Court and the entire outer area occupied by the rest of the enclosures is known as the Outer Court.