Posted on July 20, 2020
In the state of Tamil Nadu, lies a river island between the rivers Cauveri and Kollidam which is widely known for the Ranganath mandir or Srirangam temple. Known as the world’s largest functioning Hindu temple, Srirangam temple is one of the most historically significant places in southern India. It is also one of the most religiously significant temples out of the 108 Divya Desams or Vishnu Temples.
Srirangam temple’s rich and varied history dates all the way back to 3rd Century B.C. One can see the various architectural styles as over time, the dynasties that ruled the area over the centuries, had added a lot of their influences to the temple. Throughout the Srirangam temple history, one can visibly see that the southern part of India was home to changing kingdoms and dynasties who left their mark and influence on the temples and architecture of the region. Archeologically, it is said that the temple was built around the 9th century A.D. by the ruling dynasty Gangas. 11th century saw the ruling of the Chola dynasty, the temple has certain structures like the Vimana which can be seen in the temple structure even today. The Rajagopuram at Srirangam Temple is the tallest structure in Asia at 237 feet above the temple complex base with sculptures of gods and goddesses. Many architectural marvels were also seen in additions to its original structure in the 16th, 17th, and 21st centuries. These included various mandapas, namely the Garuda mandapam, Kili mandapam, etc., the Kottarams (granaries) and gopurams. The temple stands witness to the cultural diversity and exchange that was prevalent during its early period; visitors can find around 800 inscriptions not just in Tamil, but also in Sanskrit, Telegu, Marathi, Oriya, and Kannada. The scripts used for these inscriptions include Tamil as well as a Grantha – a script used by Tamil and Malayalam scholars to write Sanskrit since the 6th century A.D.
The Ranganatha mandir is the resting place of Lord Ranganathaswamy also known as Lord Vishnu. The temple compound includes over 80 shrines. These are dedicated to Lakshmi, Saraswati as well as various Vaishnava scholars and poets. The shrines to Vishnu portray him in his avatars. The Srirangam God shrines and symbolism include those to Chakkarathazhwar, Narasimha, Lord Rama, and Lord Krishna.
The surroundings of the temple create a divine atmosphere, making one feel as if they truly are within the abode of the gods and goddesses. Not to mention, the inner sanctum of Lord Vishnu, where he rests, is a place of peak divinity itself. Devotees can take his blessings and take in the serenity that comes with the place. Millions of tourists and believers from across the world visit this scenic, spiritual place. If you are in search of some answers, you might just find them at Srirangam Temple.
Visiting the Ranganathaswamy temple can be a fascinating experience for learning Srirangam temple’s history as an enthusiast as well as devotees.