Trichy was a citadel of the early Cholas which later fell to the Pallavas and is a fine blend tradition and modernity built around the Rock Fort. Apart from the Fort, there are several Churches, Colleges and Missions dating back to the 1760s.
Our first stop was the enormous temple of Srirangam Ranganathaswamy situated on an island formed by the rivers Cauvery and Kollidam. It feels more like a self-enclosed city than a house of worship and in truth, that’s the idea. Srirangam temple is often listed as the largest functioning Hindu temple in the world. The temple occupies an area of 156 acres (631,000 m²) with a perimeter of 4,116m (10,710 feet) making it the largest temple in India and one of the largest religious complexes in the world.
On the way to visit the temple, we saw this super friendly painted elephant that was trained to greet people using its trunk in exchange for some money. The elephant tapped Peter’s head so gently that his sunglasses fell down; unfortunately we couldn’t record that bit. On top of that, Sabrina got her hair styled by a woman in the street who sells flowers ornaments for the temples. The joy of travelling with kids is that the locals tend to be more friendly and charming.
Back to the temple of Srirangam – This Hindu temple is dedicated to Ranganatha, a reclining form of Hindu deity, Lord Vishnu, the preserver of the entire Universe. The temple is enclosed by 7 concentric walls with a total length of 32,592 feet or over 6 miles. These temple has 21 gopurams (towers), 39 pavilions, fifty shrines, Ayiram kaal mandapam (a hall of 1000 pillars) and several small water bodies inside. The space within the outer two prakarams (outer courtyard) is occupied by several shops, restaurants and flower stalls. We climbed a wall for a semi-panoramic view of the complex. If you want to photograph all the full view you need to walk 6 miles along the walls (not enough time for us). On of the most impressive thing is the golden doumo (cupula) which is a Vimanam (tower), shrine over the sanctum sanctorum, Ranga Vimana. It is shaped like omkara (om symbol) and is plated with gold. Non-Hindus are not allowed inside this sanctorum.
To get a quick overview, a short video is worth more than a thousand pictures. I’ll attach lots of photos in my gallery page and in my Facebook page.
Another impressive piece of architecture is the Hall of 1000 pillars (actually 953) made of granite. The pillars consists of sculptures of wildly rearing horses bearing riders on their backs and trampling with their hoofs upon the heads of rampant tigers. This shows the viciousness of the Muslims against the Hindus in the 16 centuries.
Below is a picture of Hanuman, a monkey-like humanoid deity, a devotee of Rama, and one of the central characters in the Sanskrit epic Ramayana. Devotion to Hanuman will bless people with will power, strength of mind and also ability to withstand sufferings and gain success. In this type of worship, Hanuman is trying to control the evil spirits by “locking” them.
In all Vishnu temples a decorative gate is erected called “Vaikuntha Vasal”; “Paradise Gate” or “Gate of Heavens”. It is open once a year during the festival Vaishnative and it is believe that 200,000 people come to pass through the threshold of paradise. It is fasting day where they stay awake overnight and end their fast with a feast the next morning. On the right, Sabrina is at the lotus flower where you have to put your five finger on top of the holes and then try to see the Gate of Heavens without letting it go. This guarantees you a place in heaven; as easy as that…
After four hours of walking around the temple, something more challenging was waiting for us… climbing up the famous Rock Fort Temple. This temple stands on a 84 m high rock in the centre of the town. In the eighteenth century, the British fought and defeated the French at Trichy for possession of the fort. There are two main temples where non-Hinuds are not allowed to go inside. We were prepared to climb up 437 stone-cut narrow steps with BARE feet because these steps are holy and our doctor socks were ruined so we had no choice but go for it! It was worth the effort! Charles and Sabrina stayed at the bus napping and Anna, my husband’s mum left behind her inhaler…
After all… we made it to the top!
The last picture on the right represent the locals trying to encourage us to go inside the temple but we didn’t. The girls were kind of flirting with Peter a bit…