Srirangam is 56 KM from Tanjore. Lying on an island, encircled by two rivers, Coleroon and Kaveri. The place apart from this mighty Ranganath Temple is itself very picturesque. In Srirangam, great religious schools flourished and Shri Ramanuja himself adorned the pontificate in Srirangam. He spent over 20 years in Srirangam. He wrote his monumental and celebrated works the Vedarthasangraha, Bhasya on Bhagavad Gita, and the Sri Bhasya. History records that Sri Ramanuja like his worthy predecessors-the Alwars and Nath Muni conversed personally with Shri Ranganath Bhagwan, another name of Lord Vishnu.
Acclaimed as the first and foremost among the 108 Divya Desas, Ranganath Temple, Srirangam one of the greatest temples in the South. This also a Swayam Vyakta Kshetra and known as Bhooloka Vaikunta. Srirangam reinvented by Raja Rajendra Chola who also known as ‘Kilikanda Cholan’.
He got this name, the legend says because it was a kili (parrot). The parrot told him of this great city lying submerged under sand dunes. He resuscitated this temple from oblivion. The city has an antiquated past, the history of which obliterated by the passage of time and lack of records.
However, the fact remains that with some sense of credibility, the temple present there for some 4000 years uninterruptedly. Of the South Indian kingdoms, viz. the Cholas, Pandyas, Nayaks and Rayars contributed to the rehabilitation and renovation of this great temple.
The area of Ranganath Temple, Srirangam is about 5 sq. km with 7 prakaras and 21 Gopurams (Towers) around the sanctum sanctorum. Solid in construction, beautiful in conception, marvelous in architectural perfection, and holy by its origin. The blessings showered on it by Alwars and Acharyas, Srirangam stands as an unrivaled monument of Indian culture and heritage. Foremost among the Divya Desas, the 12 Alwars in homorhythm have sung the praise of the temple and the great Lord Shri Ranganath Bhagwan. These particular songs known as Mangalasasanas.
Sri Ranganath Bhagwan lies on the bed of Adisesha (the serpant king) who, with the hoods spread protects him from any disturbance.
Architectural Importance :
Srirangam an island of 600 acres surrounded by the river Coleroon and Kaveri. Srirangam boasts of housing the Ranganatha Temple which is supreme of the 108 Vaishnava Sthalas (Divya Desams). The temple has seven defending walls which open to 21 towers. The outer wall measures 950 x 816 meters. The Rajagopuram is the tallest tower in south India with a peak of seventy-two meters (220 feet). The temple constructed through Dharmavarma Chola got buried in sand consequence on the floods of the river Cauvery. A king known as Kili Chola (Parrot Chola) recognized the buried Vimana as per the dreams he had. And . on the off repeated words of the parrot which recognized the Vishu temple of Vaikundam buried there. He constructed the temple enclosing the Sanctorum.
The doors of the prakara made of gold and silver plates and the walls around the Sanctorum decorated with paintings of all the deities of the 108 Divya Desas. The Dhwaja Stambam gold plated. The holy rites performed in this temple are preserved from time immemorial and the ceremonies and forms of worship are more or less on the same pattern as were handed over to us by the Vedas. The darsan begins at 6.45 A.M. and the Chief priests begin their duties. A cow and one of the temple elephants visit in the morning darshan, facing each other.
Puja and Rituals:
For Tirumanjan (bathing) of the Lord, holy water is brought to the Viswarupa and stood on either side at the temple gate by the Chief priests from the Kaveri River in a silver vessel daily on an elephant. After the bathing, the Lord is clothed in dry-cleaned garments, and the sacred signs are applied to his forehead. He is decorated with jewels and garlands of fresh flowers and the musicians play the Veena. The Lord’s ornamental clothes, Ratna Kavacham (armor of gems or precious stones), pearl kavacha, and other ornaments are worth seeing. On the campus, there are a number of temples for other deities like Narasimha Bhagwan, Lakshmiji, and Dhanvantri, the God of medicine.
Sri Ramanuja Swamy’s tomb on this temple campus itself lies in eternal peace. Before going to the temple, it is preferable to have a bath in the Akanda Kaveri which is only about 17 KM away from Srirangam.
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