Posted on Dec 13, 2021
Tiruchirapalli or Trichy is home to Nagaraj Cholan and many historic temples, monuments, churches, and mosques, including the Sri RanganathaSwamy Temple of Srirangam. This temple is the first of the eight manifested shrines of Lord Vishnu. Situated on an islet formed by the twin rivers Kaveri and Kollidam, it is also considered the first, foremost, and most important of the 108 main Vishnu temples.
The Srirangam temple is one of the most extensive religious compounds globally, with a complex measuring about 156 acres. There are seven prakaras or enclosures formed by thick and huge fortifying walls that run all around the sanctum. Apart from this, there are also 21 beautiful towers in all of the prakaras that give all visitors a unique sight.
According to the Tamil literature Silapathikaram, a temple located at Srirangam is mentioned that lasted from the 6th century BCE to the 4th century CE. Apart from just rulers and years, the temple also lives on through a story of love and war.
According to one of the Tamil texts found in Koil Oluku, a young girl had vowed to fast until she saw the icon pillaged by Alauddin Khilji's army. She followed Alauddin Khilji's army as it returned to Delhi with the loot. She then sneaked into the palace and saw that the Sultan's daughter was in love with the image.
After returning to Srirangam, the young girl then told the priests about what she saw in Delhi. The priests went to Delhi along with musicians and saw the icon was with the Sultan's daughter. They sang and danced before the Sultan, requesting him to return the icon, after which he gave it back, but this upset his daughter. The Sultan's daughter then followed the icon to Srirangam on horseback, signifying that love brought back the icon that war had taken.
Many festivals and processions are held in the temple all around the year. The most important and extensive out of all the festivals is the Vaikunta Ekadashi. This is a ten-day, and ten-night festival celebrated in the month of Margazhi from December to January for twenty days in total.
During the festival, the place is affirmed to be Bhooloka Vaikuntam meaning Heaven on Earth through song and dance. On the morning of Vaikuntha Ekadashi, the processional deity is brought through the Paramapada Vasal or the gate to paradise to the 1000-pillared hall.
Thousands of pilgrims enter through the gate after it is opened, and the deity has passed through it as it is believed that anyone who enters there will reach heaven after death. The gate is opened only during the ten- days festival.
Koil or Koyil means the house of the Master in Tamil and refers to the temples. Srirangam is the most revered among such temples. For many Vaishnavas, the term Koyil refers to only this temple which shows its extreme importance to them. The presiding deity Ranganathan is praised by his devotees in many names like Nam Perumal, which means our god, and Azhagiya Manavaalan, meaning beautiful groom. Hence, it is to date revered as one of the most important pilgrimage sites in the Hindu religion.