Ranganathasvamy temple (Sri Rangam) Tiruchirapalli
Srirangam is famous for its Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple, a major pilgrimage destination for Srivaishnavites and the largest temple complex in India. According to the temple's website, Srirangam can be considered the biggest functioning temple in the world, as it covers an area of about 631,000 square metres with a perimeter of 4 km Angkor Wat is bigger but non-functioning.
Srirangam is the foremost of the eight self-manifested shrines (Swayam Vyakta Kshetras) of Lord Vishnu. It is also considered the first, foremost and the most important of the 108 main Vishnu temples (Divyadesams). This temple is also known as Thiruvaranga Tirupati, Periyakoil, Bhoologa Vaikundam, Bhogamandabam. In the Vaishnava parlance the term "KOIL" signifies this temple only. The temple is enormous in size. The temple complex is 156 acres (0.63 km2) in extent. It has seven prakaras or enclosures. These enclosures are formed by thick and huge rampart walls which run round the sanctum. There are 21 magnificent towers in all prakaras providing a unique sight to any visitor. The temple town lies on an islet formed by the twin rivers Cauvery and Coleroon.
The Srirangam temple complex is composed of 7 concentric walled sections and 21 towers The temple has seven prakaras (elevated enclosures) with gopurams articulating the axial path, the highest at the outermost prakara and the lowest at the innermost. In historic times, just after the construction of this temple, the city of Srirangam lived completely within the walls.
There is a gopuram fully made of gold, which is protected by electrical fence.
Clothes such as Silk Sarees, Dhoti, Towels, etc.., used for religious purposes are auctioned here. Inside the temple compound, there is a separate temple for the goddess Andal. Additionally, There is a museum, a library and a bookshop as well.
History: According to Vedas, the vimana (adornment on top of the main tower) of Srirangam temple is believed to have come out of the ocean of milk with the powers of Brahma. The incarnation of Lord Vishnu called Ramavathara has performed poojas to Vishnu's idol (deity in a reclining posture). As a symbol of love he gifted the idol to Vibishana (brother of Ravana of the Vedic epic Ramayana) to take back with him to Sri Lanka. There was a condition that he could not set the idol on earth and if he did it would set itself permanently. Vibishana took this idol and was traveling towards Sri Lanka, and came upon the banks of the river Cauvery, during when utsavam (festival) for the god had to be performed and he placed the Deities on banks of river Kaveri. When the utsavam got over, the lord refused to move as he loved the place (Srirangam). When vibhishana requested him to come along with him, the lord refused but promised to bless Vibhishana by always facing South (the direction of Sri Lanka, home to Vibhishana) Hence it is that the deity (in a reclining posture) faces South. Then Chola kings Dharmavarcholan and Killivalavan developed the shrine into the big temple seen now. They built the basic foundations and main buildings.
Ramanuja's thiruvarasu (sacred burial shrine) is the Ramanuja shrine (samadhi) located inside the Sri Ranganathaswamy temple in Srirangam, Tamil Nadu within the temple complex, where he attained his Acharyan Thiruvadi (the lotus foot of his Acharya). His mortal remains have been interred inside the Sri Ramanuja shrine and on top of it his wax look-alike deity (the wax image has been covered with the saffron robes he had used when he was alive) has been consecrated and it is anointed with chandan (sandalwood paste) and saffron.