Situated in Tamil Nadu, Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple is dedicated to Lord Vishnu. It was built either around or before 10th century AD in Tamil architecture style. It has 108 deities displaying different forms of Vishnu.
This historical temple is visited by thousands of people every day. It is considered so suspicious that people donate gold and gems to the temple. The temple is legendary in terms or art and history. Believers see it as the nucleus of their lives.
So here are some facts about this magnificent temple.
1. Srirangam temple is listed as the largest functioning Hindu temple in the world.
Though Angkor Wat in Columbia is the largest temple by land area, it is no longer functioning. Ranganathaswamy is spread over an area of about 631,000 square metres (6,790,000 sq ft) within a perimeter of 4 km.
2. Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple has withstood natural disasters as well as the rampaging attacks of Islamic armies and European conquerors.
Perhaps the location of the temple on an island in Cauvery river has helped.
3. The main entrance, known as the Rajagopuram (the royal temple tower), rises from the base area of around 5720 and goes up to 237 feet (72 m).
There are eleven progressively smaller tiers from base to top.
4. The annual 21 day festival attracts 1 million visitors.
The festival is conducted during the Tamil month of Margazhi, which is December-January.
5. It was constructed in the Dravidian style of architecture, and is one of the most illustrious Vaishnava temples in South India.
Shrine over the sanctum is designed in Omkara (Om shape) and is gold-plated.
6. The inscription on pillars belong to the Indian dynasties of Chola and Pandya.
Archaeological evidences available in Tamil literature of Sangam era says that they date back to 10 AD.
7. The temple has 21 gopurams (towers), 39 pavilions, 50 shrines, Ayiram kaal mandapam (a hall of 1000 pillars) and several small water bodies inside.
The space within the outer two prakarams (outer courtyard) is occupied by several shops offering temple related things.
8. The hall of 1000 pillars actually has only 953 pillars.
It is made of granite and constructed in the Vijayanagara period (1336–1565) on the site of the old temple.
9. As per the legend, the deity in temple was worshipped by Lord Rama for a long time and was handed over to King Vibhishana after Rama’s victory over Ravana.
On his way back to Lanka, Lord Vishnu appeared before Vibhishana and expressed his desire to stay as Ranganatha in this place.
10. In the 13th century, Alauddin Khilji’s general Malik Kafur invaded the region and stole the idol.
The idol was taken to Delhi. Popular belief is that the devotees of Srirangam went to Delhi and fascinated the Khilji with their talent and skills. Moved by their strength and devotion, Khilji returned them the idol.
11. In 1323 AD the deity was taken away when Kafur invaded again and was brought back to the main temple after 60 years.
Vaishnavite Guru Pillai Lokacharyar took the idol to Tirunelveli.
12. Malik Kafur’s daughter offered herself to god in the sanctum.
Surathani, his daughter, had fallen in love with the deity and followed him to Srirangam. She offered herself to the God in front of the sanctum and is believed to attain the heavenly abode.
13. It is the only temple among 108 which was praised in the songs of all the saints of Tamil Bhakti movement.
14. Free food is offered to 200 devotees each day.
Under Annadham scheme food is offered and monetary terms are administered by the Hindu Religious and Endowment Board of the Government of Tamil Nadu.
15. The walls of the Temple complex are painted with exquisite paintings using herbal and vegetable dyes.
They speak volumes about the culture and tradition followed in those times. The figurines of gods and goddesses tell us stories and teach us morals.
16. The idol of the main deity is made of Stucco and not granite.
Stucco is combination of lime, mortar and stones bound together by a paste made of musk, camphor, honey, jaggery and sandal.
17. The Temple complex has 2 large tanks inside it, Chandra Pushkarini and Surya Pushkarini.
The complex has been built in a way that all the water collected flows into the tanks. The capacity of each Pushkarini is around 2 million liters and the water is cleansed by action of fishes in it.
18. A wooden sculpture in the temple, called Yana Vahana, on which Lord Vishnu is seated resembles Mastodontoidea.
Mastodontoidea is a prehistoric elephant which went extinct 15 million years ago.
19. Deity’s eye of diamond was stolen during Carnatic Wars by a French soldier.
The Orlov diamond of 189.62 carats (37.924 g) is now preserved at Diamond Fund of the Moscow Kremlin.
Visit Ranganathaswamy Temple to witness this grandeur of a temple and get soaked in its tranquil and spiritual aura.