Srirangam Temple, Trichy – Largest Living Temple

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Srirangam Temple city, Trichy
Srirangam Temple city, Trichy

All my friends who had done the Chola temple trail before me kept telling me that I should spend at least a day in Srirangam Temple Trichy. Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple is the name of the temple popularly called Srirangam Temple, Trichy or Tiruchirapalli. This temple itself needs at least half a day. As a North Indian who has now lived in the South for almost a decade, I had never heard of this huge temple. So I could never imagine its extent. This being the last temple to be visited on the trail, I was exhausted. And did not even read anything about it.

Srirangam Temple – Largest Living Temple

As I reached its first Gopuram, I was awed by its size. Only to realize that it is one of the 21 Gopurams in the temple complex. Located on the island formed by rivers Cauvery and Coleroon, it spreads across 156 acres. And has 7 Prakaras or concentric enclosures around the temple. 39 pavilions and many big and small water bodies. This is the largest practicing temple in the world. Though Angkor Wat in Cambodia is bigger than this temple, that is no longer practicing. The exact date of the construction of this temple cannot be placed. Going by mythological beliefs God chose to appear in this place. There is evidence that says that all the dynasties and kings who ruled this area did contribute to the upkeep and expansion of this temple.

Series of Gopurams at Srirangam Temple Trichy
Series of Gopurams

Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple Deity

Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple or Thiruvarangam Temple or Sri Ranganatha Swamy Temple or Thiruvaranga Tirupati or Periyakoil or Bhoologa Vaikundam or Bhogamandabam is dedicated to Lord Ranganatha, a reclining form of Vishnu. It is considered to be the holiest of the 108 places devoted to Vishnu across the country. Inside the main temple, only Hindus are allowed. And this is a place where you can see the Brahmin orthodoxy in practice. Everyone is scared of priests and the arrogance is written all over them.

When I visited the idol of God was being taken around in a palanquin. And devotees rushed to the palanquin to have a look at the idol that was so deep inside the flowers and clothes that you can hardly see anything. On an ordinary day, there were so many people. One of the priests I spoke to said this is nothing, come on a festival day and you will not find space to stand.

Gopurams at Srirangam Temple, Trichy
Gopurams

Srirangam Temple Town

This is not just a living temple, it is a city in itself, with as much as 40,000 people living inside the premises. There are a few viewing points where you can go on top of some roofs and see the array of Gopurams and temple Shikharas. Some are colorfully painted, some are somber white and some are covered in pure Gold. As you walk along the main street, you keep passing below the Gopurams. Till you reach the one where you are supposed to take off your shoes. Between the Gopurams and temples, you see a lot of pavilions made with stone pillars. And you know they are probably the oldest standing structures in the complex. Some of these pavilions are small and open while others are huge and covered.

Locks around Pillar

There was a small shrine with lots of locks locked around a pillar. They were apparently worshiped here as there were Diyas and Kumkum all around them. Many scholars, saints, and poets have composed hymns here in the temple complex including Sri Bhashyam of Ramanuja.

I know I need another detailed visit to see and experience the temple and the Trichy city completely.

PS: I was very happy to have Pani Puri right outside the main Gopuram, re-enforcing my belief that this is one food that you find in every corner of the country.

Recommend you to read the following Places to visit in Tamil Nadu.

Padmanabhapuram Palace, Fort & Town

Top Kanyakumari Tourist places for you to visit

Big Temple or Brihadeeswara Temple, Tanjore aka Thanjavur

Nataraja Temple, Chidambaram – An Iconic Shiva Temple

Soaking the Charms of Airavatesvara Temple at Darasuram

7 COMMENTS

  1. Hi Anuradha,

    Wow, these are marvelous temples.
    It seems I’ve missed out quite a lot by not visiting the southern part of India.
    Thanks for sharing the lovely photographs with us. I’ll plan a visit soon to this place 🙂

    Regards

    Jay

  2. Lovely !

    I had been there decades ago. Somehow, now I feel that the painted gopuras do not do justice to the original , stone work. I wish they had left it as it was.

  3. Anuradha

    The Srirangam temple is home to staunch south indian vaishnavities called iyengar. They are diferent from other Brahmins of India who have reworked on their orthodoxy. But not iyengars. Even among iyengar’s there two sects. The thenkelai and vadakalai. The thenkalai sect are super arrogant and orthodox. They believe it’s their Devine birth right being born as highest order. Being a Brahmin myself thank God not an iyengar, I myself have revolted against this stupidity. These fellows are equal to anglo saxon racists or Germanic racists. Srirangam is their base. Even the famous Philosopher and their own Guru Sri Ramanuja tried to condemn their attitudes. But looks like he failed. The vadakalai sect is marginally better

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