Saturday, July 11, 2009

Ranganatha Swamy Temple, Srirangapatna

As I blogged about - Colonel Bailey's Dungeon, Srirangapatna (July 06 2009)- if you happen to be near Colonel Bailey's Dungeon in Srirangapatna, the Ranganatha Swamy temple is a five minute walk away.

As this signpost tells you, which is at T-junction, from where, if you go straight, you reach Colonel Bailey's Dungeon some 100 meters ahead , and if you make a right, you reach the temple. Our guide, helpful as ever, suggested we first see the Dungeon, and then the Temple. Good advice.

If you see the map below, at the top left corner is Colonel Bailey's Dungeon, and the large rectangular structure seen at the bottom of the map is the compound of the temple.

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Per Wikipedia (, the temple is dedicated to Sri Ranganatha Swamy, a manifestation of Lord Vishnu.
The temple was constructed by the Ganga dynasty, and later improved upon by the Hoysalas and the Vijayanagar kings.

The temple dates back to 894 A.D. Yes. That makes it more than eleven hundred years old. 1115 years to be precise. For over eleven centuries this temple has seen a steady throng of devotees, of priests, of ceremonies. This temple stood some 700 years before the British came to India. The Mughal dynasty would start more than 600 years after this temple came into being. Columbus would not discover America for nearly 600 years.Simple awe-inspiring. Living history.

Closeups of some of the sculptures on the outside facade of the temple. Photography is not allowed inside the temple itself.

We saw a couple of elephants parked inside the compound,with the mahouts ready to have the elephants bless the devout, in exchange for some offerings to the pachyderms. Needless to say, there was a steady stream of the devout as well as the inquisitive. Who would not want that?

The Archaeological Survey of India has put up useful information about the temple outside the premises, in three languages - English, Hindi, and Kannada - which means that most literate people should be able to understand more about the temple and its history.

And here are closeups of the three information boards: this first board informs us that this is a monument of national importance, so please do treat it with respect.

Since there are several places of historical interest in the town of Srirangapatna, this board below gives a useful overview of the town and markings of the places therein.

This third tablet informs us of the actual history of the place.

A zoomed-in cropped shot of the plaque:

Which reads:
"Built by a Ganga chieftain, Tirumalaraya in 894 AD this East facing Temple was later expanded by the Hoysalas, Vijayanagara monarchs, Mysore Wodeyars, and Hyder Ali.
The presiding deity is a colossal statue of Lord Vishnu as Ranganatha, reclining on the huge coils of the serpent Sesha, with multiple hoods. This is the largest image of a reclining Vishnu in Karnataka.
The Navaranga doorway is guarded on either side by two large Dvarapalakas. Most of the pillars in the courtyard are in the Hoysala style. The main entrance has four pillars of the Vijayanagar period sculpted with the 24 forms of Vishnu.
There are many other shrines like Ranganayaki, Narasimha, Sudarshana, Gopalakrishna, Srinivasa, Rama Group, and Ramanuja Desika in the complex.
The large granite, pillared collonade in front of the main shrine has a monolithic Garuda stambha of the late Vijayanagara period.

© 2009, Abhinav Agarwal. All rights reserved.