MY TRAVEL DIARY : Srirangam ; Home to India’s largest living temple complex

According to a folklore in Thanjavur, everyday Nayaka king Vijaya Raghava used to pay his salutations to the Lord of Srirangam, Ranganathaswamy, from the roof top of the bell tower in the Thanjavur Palace complex.

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In 2022 an attempt like this by us would have been a futile exercise since the distance between the two towns is 57 km. Hence decided to visit Srirangam in Tiruchirapalli district and spend a day there. In the Kaveri river, island city Srirangam is like no other. Home to India’s largest living temple complex, Srirangam is the state’s most popular wedding destination. Iyengars (Vaishnavites), living in the state as well as those settled abroad, flock to Srirangam to pay obeisance to Lord Vishnu and solemnise weddings of their wards under the Lord’s guardianship. The city of wedding halls and Mandapams is a dream wedding destination of Iyengars.

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One must visit the city on a wedding muhartam (auspicious) day to soak in the atmosphere. These are the days when city’s hundreds of halls, jam packed with people dressed in their colourful best, reverberate with wedding music and streets come alive with wedding processions. In 2019, along with my wife, I too had the privilege of attending an Iyengar wedding in Srirangam. Hence, it is an eye witness account.

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There are 108 most important shrines of Lord Vishnu, with the 1100 years old Shrirangam’s Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple leading the group. It was built by Cholas. Later on, over centuries, Pandyas, Hoysalas and Vijayanagara dynasties continued to make additions to the complex making it one the world’s largest living temple complex.

Spread over 63 hectares, the temple complex has 21 majestic gopurams (temple entrance gates) and 81 shrines. The complex is listed for a UNESCO World Heritage Site tag.

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Finally concluded the Tamil Nadu road trip after discovering a Chettinad eatery, Hotel Kannappa, on Main Road in Thiruvanaikaval, Srirangam, and enjoying a wide range of delicious cuisine. The manager had honestly claimed: “We serve authentic cuisine.” A note to gourmands: Beware: Chettinad cuisine is full of spices and really, really very hot.

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Sharat Sharma

Sharat Sharma is an indefatigable traveller and explorer from Delhi. For Sharat, age is just a number because what matters is the indomitable will to get moving.

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