Sri Rangam - Ranganathaswami Temple
Sri Ranganathaswami Temple
Srirangam is located 2km north of Tiruchirappalli. The main deity is Lord Ranganatha, or Lord Vishnu, reclining on Sesa Naga.
This temple is the foremost of the eight self-manifested shrines of Lord Vishnu (Swayam Vyakta Ksetras). It is also considered the most important of the 108 main Vishnu temples (Divya Desams). This temple is a highly recommended place to visit. It was sung about by all the Alwars (the Tamil Vaishnava saints), except Madhurakavi.
Sri Ramanujacarya made the Srirangam Temple his headquarters. His samadhi (tomb) is within the premises of the Srirangam Temple. Sri Chaitanya, Sri Vallabha-carya, and the Dalai Lama visited this temple.
The Srirangam Temple is the largest temple in India.
The temple complex covers 2½ sq km or 155 acres. It is on a 600 acre island surrounded by the rivers Kaveri and Kolladam (Coleroon). After Tirupati, this is the second most visited Vaishnava temple in South India. Over the roof is the Sriranga vimana, which is gold-plated. The temple has a great collection of jewelry.
Each morning at 6.45 am, a cow with her head facing away from Lord Ranganatha and an elephant facing the cow are brought before the altar. Thus when the deity’s doors are opened the first thing that Lord Ranganatha sees is the rear end of a cow and the head of an elephant, which are both considered very auspicious. I was told that instead of a conch-shell being blown, the elephant blows his trunk. This is the most auspicious time to see Lord Ranganatha.
The puja (worship) of the temple is done according to the regulations of the Ramanuja-sampradaya. It is a traditional belief that Adi Sankara installed the Janakarsana Yatra at Srirangam and Dhanakarsana Yatra at Tirupati to attract pilgrims.
There are seven walls (prakaras) around the temple. The temple has 21 gopurams (towers). The main southern entrance 13- storey gopuram, called Raja-gopuram, is the largest in India. It was finished in 1987 and is 72m (235 feet) high. The passage under this tower is about 30m (100 ft) long. The other gopurams were built between the 14th and 17th century.