SRI RANGANATHASWAMY TEMPLE, Srirangam, Trichy. Tamil Nadu
Largest functioning Hindu temple in the world
By World News Report Bureau
The Srirangam temple also known as Thiruvaranga Tirupati, Periyakoil, Bhoologa Vaikundam and Bhogamandabam– occupies an area of 156 acres (631,000 m²). It is the largest temple in India and one of the largest religious complexes in the world.
One of the eight self-manifested shrines (Swayam Vyakta Kshetras) of Lord Vishnu, it is among the principal and most important 108 Divya desams dedicated to Vishnu.
The thousands of years, old Ranganathanswamy Temple complex is so huge that it can accommodate a city within itself. It has 49 shrines– all dedicated to Lord Vishnu. It is one of the finest examples of Dravidian architecture. It has a perimeter of 4,116m (10,710 feet) enclosed by seven concentric walls -prakarams and an outer courtyard covering 32,592 feet or six miles. The temple situated on an island formed by rivers Cauvery and Coleroon, has 21 gopurams (towers), 39 pavilions, a hall of 1000 pillars and several small water bodies.
The main entrance, known as the Rajagopuram or royal temple tower goes up to 237 feet (72 m) in eleven progressive tiers and is the second tallest temple tower in Asia. The length and breadth of the Rajagopuram are 166 feet by 97 feet at the base and is 98 feet by 32 feet at the top. The tower has 13 copper ‘kalasams’ [3.12m (high) by 1.56m (diameter)] weighing 135 kg placed on top.
According to legend, Lord Rama, an Avatar of Vishnu, while returning from Lanka gifted the Lord Ranganatha idol that he used to worship to Vibhishana. Around the same time, King Dharma Varma was doing penance to get Lord Ranganatha to stay permanently in Srirangam. While Vibhishana was returning to Lanka, with the idol, there was a divine announcement. Lord Vishnu appeared in person and asked Vibhishan to make the deity stay in Srirangam but promised to cast his benign glance eternally on Lanka. Since the day, the deity in its reclining posture is facing South.
Years later the Ranganathan idol covered by an overgrowth of deep forests was accidentally discovered by a Chola king, who established the Ranganathaswamy temple.
The deities in the temple include a rare shrine of Dhanvantari the mythological the physician of the gods and the fountainhead of Ayurveda and Indian system of medicine. Dhanvantari is considered to be an incarnation of Vishnu. Sudarshana Vasudev Dhanvantari, supposedly holds the Kalasha full of the nectar of immortality and is capable of removing all diseases and fears from a person’s mind. Even then, there are not many temples worshipping him in India and other parts of the world.
The Srirangam temple is today the largest functioning Hindu temple in the world.