The Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple or Tiruvarangam 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 Divya Prabandha, the early medieval Tamil literature canon of the Alvar saints from the 6th--9th centuries CE and is counted as the first and foremost among the 108 Divya Desams dedicated to Vishnu.
The Hall of 1000 pillars (actually 953) is a fine example of a planned theatre-like structure and opposite to it, "Sesha Mandap", with its intricacy in sculpture, is a delight. The 1000-pillared hall made of granite was constructed in the Vijayanagara period (1336--1565) on the site of the old temple.The pillars consists of sculptures of wildly rearing horses bearing riders on their backs and trampling with their hoofs upon the heads of rampant tigers, seem only natural and congruous among such weird surroundings.
The Garuda Madapa (hall of the legendary bird deity of Vishnu, garuda) located on the south side of the third enclosure is another Nayak addition. Courtly portrait sculptures, reused from an earlier structure, are fixed to the piers lining the central aisle. A free-standing shrine inside the hall contains a large seated figure of garuda; the eagle-headed god faces north towards the principal sanctum. The Kili mandapa (Hall of parrot) is located next to the Ranganatha shrine, in the first enclosure of the temple. Elephant balustrades skirt the access steps that ascend to a spacious open area. The most artistically interesting of the halls that the Nayaks added to the complex is the Sesha Mandap on the east side of the fourth enclosure.
Brahma, the Hindu God of creation in Hindu Puranas was once in a state of deep meditation and in His supreme trance received the gift of the Vishnu's idol, "Ranga Vimana". He was told by god that there would be seven other appearances of such idols on earth -- Srirangam, Srimushnam, Venkatadri (Tirumala), Saligram (Muktinath), Naimisaranya, Totadri, Pushkara and Badrinath. The idol was then passed on by Brahma to Viraja, Vaiswatha, Manu, Ishwaku and finally to Rama. Rama, himself an Avatar of Vishnu, worshipped the idol for a long time, and when he returned victoriously from Sri Lanka after destroying Ravana, he gave it to King Vibhishana as a token of appreciation for the latter's support for Rama against his own brother, Ravana. When Vibhishana was going via Trichy en route to Sri Lanka, the deity wanted to stay in Srirangam. Ranganatha, captivated by the devotion of a King called Dharma Varma, who was doing penance to have Lord Ranganatha to permanently stay Srirangam, stayed put, promising to cast his benign glance eternally on Lanka. Hence it is that the deity (in a reclining posture) faces South.
Vaikuntha Ekadashi (Tamil: வைகுண்ட ஏகாதசி) (Telugu: వైకుంఠ ఏకాదశి)or Mukkoti Ekadashi is the Shukla paksha Ekadashi that occurs during the Dhanurmasa period in the Hindu calendar (corresponding to late December - January in English calendar). Vaishnavism (Worship of Lord Vishnu) culture believes that 'Vaikuntha Dwaram' or 'the gate to Lord's Inner Sanctum' is opened on this day. The Margashirsha shukla paksha ekadashi in lunar calendar is known as a 'Mokshada Ekadashi'.
Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple, Srirangam Vaikuntha Ekadashi celebrations in Srirangam lasts 21 days and is divided into two parts of pagal pathu (morning part) and Ira pathu (night part). Lord Vishnu as Lord Ranganatha is adorned is an armor of diamonds (rathnaangi) and is brought to the Thousand-Pillared Hall from the sanctum sanctorum through the northern gate known as Paramapada Vasal, the gate to Vaikunta. This gate is opened once in a year, only on the Vaikuntha Ekadashi day.
Tirumala Venkateswara Temple also has a similar concept. Thirumala has a special entrance called Vaikuntha Dwaram that encircles the sanctum sanctorum. The dwaram (passage) is opened only on Vaikuntha Ekadashi and it is believed that any person who passes through this `Vaikuntha Dwaram' on this particular day attains salvation.The temple witnesses heavy inflow of pilgrims and dignitaries for Vaikuntha Ekadashi.