Sunday, 22 November 2015

Wonder that is Sri Ranganatha Swami temple, Srirangam!!

Sri Ranganathar Swamy Temple - Srirangam.gnanasekar71289.blogspot.com
Rajagopuram (Main tower),post 1987.en.wikipedia.org/
Last year- 2014 in April  a proposal was sent to the UNESCO authorities to recognize the famous Sri Ranganatha Swami temple at Srirangam as a 'UNESCO Recognized Heritage  Site' based on its antiquity, architectural value, sheer size and continuous human activities for centuries at the temple and other factors. Rulers of various dynasties played a key role in the construction of this massive temple that follows Vadakalai Vaishnava tradition of Hinduism.  
Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple, located on the island of of Srirangam, a part of Thiruchirapalli Municipal corporation, Tamil Nadu is the most important  pilgrimage center in India for Vaisnavites. Bounded by two rivers of Cauvery and Kollidam (a tributary of Cauvery), this temple is in a serene and  placid  place and is being visited by thousands of people a day. The presiding  deities are Sri Ranganatha Swamy and his divine consort  Sri. Ranganayaki Thayyar.

Permanent Delegation of India to UNESCO in April, 2014 submitted  a proposal with details  to declare this temple as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Some important facts mentioned in the proposal are  as follows:

 01. Constructed in the Dravidian style of architecture, the Temple Complex covers over 156 acres (63.131 hectares), thus making it  the largest 'Functioning Temple' in the World  and is often ranked amongst the largest religious complexes of the world, including the Potala Palace in Lhasa, Tibet, Angkor Wat in Cambodia, Borobodur in Indonesia, Machu Picchu in Peru and the Vatican City, in Italy.


1000 Pillar in Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple.www.justknow.in
02. In addition to seven Prakarams (pathway around the temple) with massive walls, there are 21  artistically sculpted,  colorful gopurams (towers), 50 subshrines, 9 sacred pools,   gilded Vimana (dome) over the sanctum sanctorum of the presiding deity, and other interesting features such as fresco paintings. The Rajagopuram has a height of 237 feet (72 m) from the base.
Sri Ranganatha swamy Temple,Srirangam.Hall of 1000 pillars with sculptures of riding horsesen.wikipedia.org/wiki
 03. About temple antiquity,  evidences prove the origin of the temple is in 1st century CE during the Sangam period (3rd Century BCE )This temple was  built by several dynasties Cholas of Thanjavur, the Kongu rulers from Tamil west, the Pandyas from south (6th – 10th Centuries CE and 13th – 14th Centuries CE), the Hoysalas (10th – 14th Centuries CE), and the later rulers and viceroys of the celebrated Vijayanagara Empire of Karnataka (16th Century CE.

04. This  pilgrimage center is adored, revered and extolled by a  diversity of religious and linguistic groups across the nation periodically.

05. A well-planned temple town with continuous human activity. An outstanding architectural wonder with a wide range of sculptures, ornate pillars, artistically made huge stone images. The temple complex is a master piece of human creation and ingenuity. The scale and size of the complex is quite unprecedented and mind-boggling, making  it the  largest functioning temple complex in the world.  In terms of size,   Srirangam  temple complex, with over   60 hectares, is larger than  Vatican city - an area of 44 hectares, Borobodur - 0.25 hectares and Potala Palace ( Lhasa, Tibet) - over 13 hectares. Where as  Angkor  Wat Archaeological Park spreads over 40,000 hectares, but the main  temple complex’s rectangular outer enclosure wall measures 1024m x 802 m, making it an area of 82.125 hectare  and the largest temple complex in the world. Unlike  Angkor  Wat, this unique temple has a continuous living traditions lasting several centuries.

06.The Vaishnava cultural tradition has been continuously  maintained since 1st Century CE and the temple is the center of  Tamil Culture

07. Srirangam is a 'Pragaram-based big temple town''.


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Some additional interesting facts: 

Swargha Vaasal (heaven's gate).Sacred door, Sri Ranganathaswamy Hindu Temple, Srirangam, .www.diomedia.com
01. The vimanam (dome)  over the main shrine (sanctum sanctorum), the Ranga vimana,  is shaped like omkara (om symbol) and is plated with gold.

02. The Hall of 1000 pillars (actually 953) is a fine fine piece of architecture. It is a well  planned theater-like structure and opposite to it is the "Sesha Mandap". The 1000-pillared hall made of granite stone  was built during the Vijayanagara period (1336–1565). During the recent renovation this year,  Yagasala was established here in this mandapam.

03. The Garuda Madapa (hall of the legendary bird, mount of Vishnu, Garuda: eagle) located on the south side of the third enclosure is another Nayak  contribution. The Garuda image is a huge one facing the main shrine. The Kili mandapa (Hall of parrot) is located next to the Ranganatha shrine, in the first enclosure of the temple.

04. The 237 feet (73 meter) high 13 - tiered Rajagopuram ( consecrated on 25 March, 1987) was built in 1987 at the initiative of the 44th Jeer (saint) of the Ahobila Mutt, despite his age. The expenses were met by way of public subscriptions, private donations, money from state governments, etc., and  the  massive tower dominates the landscape and skyline for miles around, while the remaining 20 gopurams were built between the 14th and 17th century.
Base of Rjagopuram, prior to 1987. 400 years tower was not built.en.wikipedia.org/wiki
05. The structure of the Rajagopuram remained incomplete at the base ('kalkaram'or mottai gopuram; 17 meters high), for over 400 years  and was not well maintained. Early work began   during the reign of Achyuta Deva Raya of Vijayanagar, but  was  abandoned after the king's death and apparently was not resumed owing to some political preoccupations or crises on account of invasions from Muslim kingdoms. The construction work of tower over the  base was a time consuming one. Every one of the 13 glistening copper 'kalasams'  fixed atop the new tower weighs 135 kg and measures 3.12m (height) by 1.56m (diameter) specially made for this purpose.

06. Saint Sri Ramanujar, theologian, philosopher and expounder of Viśiṣṭādvaita philosophy of Hinduism, attained  divinity in Srirangam. His Thaan-ana Thirumeni (the symbolic body) is preserved  by  applying saffron and camphor every six months in a ritualistic style. Prayers  are offered  even today after eight centuries. His  shrine is found in the fourth prakaram (outer courtyard) of the temple. 

07. Pancharanga Kshetrams (also called Pancharangams, meaning the "five Rangams or Ranganathas") is referred to  a group of five sacred Hindu temples, dedicated to Ranganatha, a form of the god Vishnu. The five Pancharanga Kshetrams in the order of their successive locations, on the banks of the Kaveri River : Srirangapatnam : Adi Ranga; Srirangam :Adya Ranga;  the other places are Koviladi at Tiurppernagar,  Mayiladuthurai and Vatarangam at Sirkazhi. The Sarangapani temple at Kumbakonam.

08. The temple is enclosed by 7 long prakarams or outer courtyards. These 
concentric walls or mathil suvar in local language)  cover  a total length of 32,592 feet or over six miles.
 

Ref:
http://whc.unesco.org/en/tentativelists/5894/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ranganathaswamy_Temple,_Srirangam

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