Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple of India

        The Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple in Srirangam, Tamil Nadu, India is the largest functioning Hindu temple in the world dedicated to Lord Ranganatha, a reclining form of Lord Vishnu, one of three Gods in Hinduism.
Srirangam is the foremost of the eight self-manifested shrines of Lord Vishnu. It is also considered the first, foremost and the most important of the 108 main Vishnu temples.The temple is Legend has it that a long time ago Lord Brahma, the Lord of Creation in Hindu mythology was once in a state of deep meditation and in His supreme trance received the gift of the Lord Vishnu's idol, "Ranga Vimana".
He was told by the Supreme Lord that there would be seven other appearances of such idols on earth . The idol was then passed on by Brahma to Viraja, Vaiswatha, Manu, Ishwaku and finally to Rama. Lord Rama, himself an Avatar of Vishnu, worshipped the idol for a long time, and when he returned victoriously from Sri Lanka after destroying Ravana, he gave it to King Vibhishana as a token of appreciation for the latter's support for Rama against his own brother, Ravana. When Vibhishana was ready to resume his journey, he discovered that the statue couldn’t be moved, so a small temple was built over it. 

The temple of Sri Ranganathaswamy was built in 894 AD by Ganga King Tirumalaiya. Several dynasties of Kings were its patrons and have helped in its upkeep over the years. Prominent among these royal patrons were the Vijayanagara Kings, Hoysalas, Hyder Ali, Tipu Sultan and Wodeyars of Mysore.

Over centuries, the temple "grew" as larger ones were built over the existing The temple complex is massive: it encompasses an area of over 150 acres with seven concentric walls, the outermost being about 4 kilometers long! The walls demarcate enclosures within enclosures, each more sacred than the next, with the inner-most enclosure is forbidden to non-Hindus. . The Temple of Srirangam is famous for its gopurams or entrances beneath colorful pyramids. The temple has 21 gopurams total, with the largest one having 15 stories and is nearly 200 feet (60 m) tall. Among the marvels of the temple is a Hall of 953 Pillars which has intricately carved stone pillars. The entire temple has intricate carvings and sculptures, which is a marvel in itself. But the main attraction of the temple is the reclining image of Lord Vishnu on the great snake Ananta. 

The famous festival celebrated at the Ranganathaswamy Temple is Kotarothsava or the Rath Yatra in the month of January.During Makara Sankranti festival, the Ranganathaswamy Temple is adorned with more than a hundred thousand lamps. Devotees take a dip in the Holy Cauvery River and then light up the lamps in the temple The temple of Sri Ranganathaswami at Srirangam boasts an historic past of great kingdom and a civilization thousands of years old. 

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