Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple or Thiruvarangam is a Hindu temple dedicated to Ranganatha, a reclining form of Hindu deity Vishnu. Constructed in the Tamil style of architecture, this temple is glorified in the Thiviya Pirabandham, the early medieval Tamil literature canon of the Alvar saints from the 6th to 9th centuries AD and is counted among the 108 Divya Desams dedicated to Vishnu. The temple follows Thenkalai tradition of worship. The Hall of 1000 pillars (actually 953) is a fine example of a planned theatre-like structure and opposite to it is the “Sesha Mandap”. The 1000-pillared hall made of granite was constructed in the Vijayanagara period (1336–1565) on the site of the old temple. The hall is celebrated for the leaping animals carved on to the piers at its northern end. 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, seem only natural and congruous among such weird surroundings. The great hall is traversed by one wide aisle in the centre for the whole of its greater length, and intersected by transepts of like dimension running across at right angles. There still remain seven side aisles on each side, in which all the pillars are equally spaced out. The Garuda Madapa (hall of the legendary bird deity of Vishnu, garuda) located on the south side of the third enclosure is another Nayak addition. The Kili mandapa (Hall of parrot) is located next to the Ranganatha shrine, in the first enclosure of the temple. Elephant balustrades skirt the access steps that ascend to a spacious open area. This is bounded by decorated piers with rearing animals and attached colonettes in the finest 17th-century manner. Four columns in the middle define a raised dais their shafts are embellished with undulating stalks.
There are 21 Gopuram’s (tower gateways), among which the towering 236-feet Rajagopuram (shrine of the main gateway) is the tallest temple tower in Asia Murudeshwara was built by R. N. Shetty. The 73m high 13 tiered rajagopuram was built in 1987 by Ahobila Mutt and dominates the landscape for miles around, while the remaining 20 Gopuram’s were built between the 14th and 17th centuries. The Gopuram’s have pronounced projections in the middle of the long sides, generally with openings on each of the successive levels. The Vellai gopura (white tower) on the east side of the fourth enclosure has a steep pyramidal superstructure that reaches a height of almost 44m. The structure of the rajagopuram remained incomplete at the base (‘kalkaram’, 17 meters high), for over 400 years. Started during the reign of Achyuta Deva Raya of Vijayanagar, the construction was given up after the king’s death and apparently was not resumed owing to some political preoccupations or crisis. The Rajagopuram (the main gopuram) did not reach its current height of 73 meters, until 1987, when the 44th Jeer of Ahobila Mutt initiated the process with the help of philanthropists and others. The whole structure was constructed in a span of eight years. The Rajagopuram was consecrated on 25 March 1987. The length and breadth at the base of the Rajagopuram is 166 feet and 97 feet, while the length and breadth at the top is 98 feet and 32 feet. The temple complex is enormous and spans 156 acres (0.63 km2). It has seven prakaras or enclosures. These enclosures are formed by thick and huge rampart walls which run round the sanctum. There are 21 magnificent towers in all prakaras providing a unique sight to any visitor.
History Says Lord Rama performed pooja to Vishnu’s idol. As a symbol of love he gifted the idol to Vibishana to take back with him to Lanka. There was a condition that he could not set the idol on earth and if he did it would seat itself permanently. Vibishana took this idol and while travelling towards Lanka, came upon the banks of the river Kaveri. He placed the idol on banks of river Kaveri, while an utsavam was in progress. When the utsavam got over, the Lord refused to move as he loved the place (Srirangam). When Vibishana requested him to come along with him, the lord refused but promised to bless Vibishana by always facing South (the direction of Lanka, home to Vibishana) Hence it is that the deity (in a reclining posture) faces South. Then Chola kings Dharmavarcholan and Killivalavan developed the shrine into the big temple seen now. They built the basic foundations and main buildings. Srirangam History got important during the invasion of some jealous Muslim emperors (1310–1311) Srirangam was captured and the riches were looted. The invaders did not want to accept the rituals of Hinduism. They took away the idol of Alagiyamanavalar Perumal and plundered the treasures, jewels and ornaments which belonged to Srirangam temple. The temple idol of Alagiyamanavalar Perumal was sent to Delhi. In Delhi, the idol of Alagiyamanavalar Perumal was taken care of like a devoted mother by the daughter of the Sultan. At the very moment she saw the idol, she fell in love with the deity. She spent all her time with the idol. The Sultan surrendered the statue of Alagiyamanavalar Perumal back to Ramanujacharya. The Daughter of Sultan could not bear this. She is said to have disappeared mysteriously. She now has a separate shrine near the Sriranganatha temple and people worship her. She is called “Thulukka Nachiyar”. Even after this incident Srirangam was often attacked and ransacked by various mughal emperors. After the rise of Vijayanagara Kingdom the atrocities of the Mughal Sultans came to an end. King of Vijaya Nagar “Krishna Deva Raya” realized the importance of this sacred city and prioritized Srirangam as equal as Thirupathi and bequeathed a plenty of treasures, jewels and lands to the Srirangam temple. During his period the Srirangam temple was well reformed and many plans were executed for the growth and people welfare and so Srirangam got developed rapidly.