Tamilnadu’s Rich Heritage: Srirangam Temple
Srirangam temple is often listed as the largest functioning Hindu temple in the world (Angkor Wat at Cambodia being the largest non-functioning temple). The temple occupies an area of 156 acres (631,000 m²) with a perimeter of 4,116m (10,710 feet) making it the largest temple in India and one of the largest religious complexes in the world. The temple is enclosed by 7 concentric walls (termed prakarams or mathil suvar) with a total length of 32,592 feet or over six miles. These walls are enclosed by 21 Gopurams. The space within the outer two prakarams is occupied by several shops, restaurants and flower stalls.
(Old Srirangam Temple Entrance, Courtesy : Srirangaminfo.com)
Religious documentation informs us that this temple is the only one of its kind for Lord Vishnu that was sung in praise by all the Alwars (Divine saints of Tamil Bhakthi movement), having a total of 247 “pasurams” (hymns) in its name. Acharyas of all schools of thought — Advaita, Vishistadvaita and Dvaita — recognize the immense significance this temple, regardless of their affiliation.
The temple amazes us with its astounding architecture and sculptural beauty. 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 Rajagopuram (the main gopuram that is one of the tallest temple religious structures in the world) did not reach its current height of 73 m. until 1987, when the 44th Jeer of Ahobila Mutt initiated the process with the help of philanthropists and others.
Srirangam temple has around 360 shrines dedicated to various deities and Gurus, some of the names:-
1) Lord Ranganatha
2) Goddess Ranganayaki
3) Lord Sudarshana
4) Lord Dhanvantri
5) Sri Ramanuja
6) Lord Garuda
7) Sri Vedanta Desika
8 ) Alagiya Singar ( Narasimha)
9) Sri Thuluka Nachiyar
10) Lord Vishwaksena
11) Sri Aandal
12) Lord Venugopala Krishna
13) Lord Pattibhisheka Rama
14) Dasavatara Moorthis