Srirangam lies nestled on an island in the middle of the mighty river Kaveri which runs through Trichy in Tamil Nadu. The temple itself occupies more than 150 acres. It is a Vaishnava temple devoted to Sri Ranganatha, who is the reclining form of Vishnu. The earliest mentions of the temple are in first century AD Tamil scriptures and poems.
It has a mixed history, having been rebuilt a few times over centuries due to Moguls invasions. The idol was removed and kept in the safety of the Tirumala hills for three hundred years in the middle of the last millennium. Because of its strategic position, the temple was vulnerable to frequent attacks and as a result during reconstructions seven parikramas with high walls were added around the temple over centuries.
Today the temple is revered as a holy Vaishnava site and admired for it’s architecture. Recently renovated by the Government, the temple’s famous 1000-Pillar Mandapam and various other mandapams are now easily accessible. The glorious beauty of many doors, windows and Gopurams have been restored. It is a visual treat to see.
The temple is built in a concentric pattern and surrounded by old homes owned traditionally by Iyengars. There are 21 splendid Towers or Gopurams around the temple. The tallest Gopuram is the Southern Gopuram or Rajagopuram at 239.5 feet. On a clear day you can see Sri Lanka from the top of this Gopuram!
The “Jeeyar” who is considered the head of the Vaishnavites in the South lives simply in a home close to the temple.
Getting to Trichy is fairly easy, you have train, bus and airport connections. You can drive from Chennai in about six hours, from Madurai the drive takes about two to three hours and from Coimbatore in four to five hours. The highways are pleasant to drive on with plenty of places to eat and take a break. Once in Trichy, you can find a lot of great hotels to stay in as well as fairly inexpensive ones near the bus stand and the temple area.
Remember that the temperatures can soar in Trichy in April/May so plan clothing and touring accordingly.
Looking for traditional iron pots and pans or wooden objects? This is the place to explore! Unusual items that you thought was lost with your grandma are available in Srirangam and Trichy. Bangles and color powders for rangoli and kolams in a rainbow of colors on display will tempt you to buy them all…
Other Places of Interest in Trichy:
Trichy Rock Fort – includes the Uchipillayar Temple. A steep climb awaits the adventurous!
Our Lady of Lourdes Church (1840) – the Gothic architecture will be of interest.
Kallanai – an ancient dam built by the Cholas in the second century fortified by the British
Samayapuram Mariamman (Maha Kali) Temple – 16 km outside Trichy.
This blog post is only a guide to places the writer loves. Please plan your trip well.
If you have any questions do write to me!
Looking for cool weather and a relaxing holiday? Why not try Coorg, the Scotland of India.
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