This is the foremost of the 108 shrines glorified by
the Alwars; all of the Alwars with the exception of
Madhurakavi Alwar have sung of its glory. It is the
one of the greatest centers of the Sri Vaishnava religion
and among the most visited pilgrimage centers in India.
Undoubtedly the largest temple in India, and one among
the grandest, it is a treasure house of art freezing
various architectural styles over a period of time.
It boasts of the tallest temple tower in India. Referred
to as heaven on earth it is an ancient center of worship
- vibrant with tradition and festivals. The Pancharanga
Kshetrams along the course of the Kaveri are Srirangapatnam
(Karnataka), Srirangam, Koyiladi (Anbil) and Kumbhakonam
and Indalur (Mayiladuturai).
Srirangam is very closely associated with Ramanujacharya,
the beacon of the Sri Vaishnava tradition of Hinduism.
Tiruvanaikka or Jambukeswaram, one of the Pancha Bhoota
Stalams (associated with the primary element water)
of Shiva, is located in the vicinity. Srirangam is located
near Tiruchirappalli in Tamilnadu.
Deities: Ranganathar is enshrined in a reclining posture
(facing the South); while Namperumaal the festival deity
in a standing posture is also housed in the main sanctum.
There is a shrine in the fourth prakaram, housing Ranganayaki
Traditions: Araiyar Sevai, one of the ancient devotional
art traditions of Tamilnadu, involving the expressive
recitation of the Divya Prabandams, using movement,
music originated here under the auspices of Nadamuni
(10th century CE). Araiyar sevai is performed also at
Srivilliputtur, Alwar Tirunagari and Melkote (Karnataka).
The famous tamil literary work Kamba Ramayanam premiered
here at Srirangam.
The Temple: This temple enshrines Ranganathar in the
central sanctum, crowned with a gold plated Pranava
Vimanam or Paravasudeva Vimanam. A total of 7 concentric
prakarams surround this shrine, housing several mandapams,
tanks and shrines. The area enclosed by the outermost
wall is over a hundred ares. Gopurams on the south and
east of the 4th prakaram are the most impressive. A
total of 21 towers adorn the temple.
The Srirangam temple tradition is an ancient one. The
Silappadikaaram of the Sangam period refers to Srirangam.
All of the Alwars (with the exception of Madhurakavi)
have sung in praise of Srirangam. The first (surviving
) stone inscription dates back to the period of Parantaka
Chola (924 CE).
The pillars here go back to the Chola period (13th
century CE). The 1000 pillared hall is also the product
of the late chola period, and is also in the 4th prakaram;
its entrance is in the south. It is here where the adhyayanotsavam
(involving the recitation of the Tamil Prabandam hymns)
is held. At the southern edge of the huge open courtyard,
the Vijayanagara rulers added the hall with 8 pillars
with huge horses. The Krishna Venugopala shrine on the
southern side is also of great beauty. The Garuda mandapam
s located in the third prakaram.. Its pillars go back
to the Nayaks of 17th century Madurai. The Chandra and
Surya Pushkarini tanks are located in the 3rd prakaram.
Legends: Legend has it that the image of Ranganatha
worshipped here, was originally worshipped by the clan
of the Ishwakus, and it passed on to Rama. Rama upon
his victorious return from Lanka, handed over this image
to Vibhishana, who proceded to Lanka with the image.
Circumstances caused him to place this image on the
banks of the Kaveri, where Srirangam now is. (see Ucchi
Pillaiyaar Koyil ) A disappointed Vibhishana returned
to SriLanka with the consolation that the image of Ranganatha
at SriRangam would face South - in the direction of
Lanka. A Chola monarch by name Dharmavaraman is said
to have created a temple here.
Legend also has it that the original temple was flooded
by the Kaveri and was rediscovered by a later Chola