Largest Hindu Temple in India – Sri Ranganatha Swamy Temple

Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple is the Largest Hindu Temple in India. It is dedicated to Lord Ranganatha (a form of Vishnu), located in Srirangam, Tiruchirapalli, Tamil Nadu, India.

The Ranganatha Swamy Temple at Srirangam is known by different names Periyakovil, Srirangam Tirupati, Thiruvaranga Tirupati, Bhoologa Vaikundam, and Bhogamandabam.

The Srirangam temple is the largest temple compound in India and occupies an area of 155 acres (63 ha).

Largest Hindu Temple in India - Sri Ranganatha Swamy Temple
Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple (Source)

The temple is one of the largest religious complexes in the world, the still larger Angkor Wat being the largest existing temple which has an area of 402 acres (162.6 ha)

The Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple is often listed as one of the largest functioning Hindu temples in the world.

The Srirangam temple is mentioned in Tamil literature of the Sangam era (6th century BCE to the 4th century CE), including the epic Silapadikaram.

Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple is constructed in the Hindu architectural style. The temple is among 108 Divya Desams dedicated to the god Vishnu.

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The temple was originally constructed by the Chola ruler, Dharmavarma. Later, the Chola King Killivalavan rebuilt the temple complex in its present form after it was destroyed by the flood caused by the Kaveri River.

The inscriptions found in the temple belong to the Chola, Pandya, Hoysala, and Vijayanagara dynasties who ruled over the region.

These inscriptions range in date between the 9th and 16th centuries.

The Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple is the most distinguished Vaishnava temple in South India. The temple has a very overwhelming history and legends.

It has played a very significant role in Vaishnavism’s history. Ramanuja and his predecessors Nathamuni and Yamunacharya started their careers in Srirangam in the 11th century.

The Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple has seven Prakarams (Sapta-Prakaram) or Mathil Suvar, concentric enclosures with courtyards. Each layer of Prakarams has walls and gopurams which were built after the 16th century to save it from invasions and attacks from Delhi Sultanate armies

The total length of these walls is 32,592 feet (9,934 m) or over six miles.

The temple has 21 towers, 17 being the major gopurams, 50 shrines, 9 sacred water pools, and several small water bodies inside its complex.

The temple has a hall called Ayiram Kaal Mandapam which has 1000 pillars.

Sri Ranganatha Swamy Temple largest functioning Hindu temples in the world.
Ayiram Kaal Mandapam, Srirangam temple (Source)

The Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple is aligned to the north-south and east-west axis, on an island surrounded by the Kaveri River.

The Srirangam temple was looted, destroyed, and plundered by the Ala ud Din Khilji’s general Malik Kafur and his Delhi Sultanate forces in 1311 during the reign of the Pandyan Kingdom.

Muhammad bin Tughluq between 1323 CE and 1327 CE also invaded Srirangam but this time the temple was defended and 13,000 Sri Vaishnavas devotees of Srirangam, died in the fierce battle.

The temple was rebuilt in the late 14th century, and the site was fortified and expanded with many more gopurams in the 16th and 17th centuries.

The annual 21-day festival is celebrated between December and January (the Tamil month of Margali).

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The festival is attended by over a million visitors. Devotees and tourists from all over the world visit the temple and take blessings of the Lord Ranganatha

The Srirangam temple complex has been nominated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is on UNESCO’s tentative list.

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