Friday 8 March 2013

The three Rangas

Today (March 8, 2013) is Vijaya Ekadashi and Rama fasted this day several thousand years ago and prayed to the Gods.
The fruits of this was seen in the defeat of Ravana and his victory in Lanka. Ekadasi and the next day-Dwadeshi-is considered to be very holy and seeing God after fasting is supposed to yield many benefits.
This is what Krishna tells Yudhistera when he asks him about the significance of this day. My relatives wanted to have the Brahmananda darshana of all the three Ranganatha temples located amidst Cauvery river on this day. They wanted some details of the three temple so that they cover it in one single day.
I gave them the details and I have posted them here too.
The temples of Ranganatha are at Srirangapatna in Mandya district which is called Adi Ranga, Shivanasamudra also in Mandya district which is called Madhya Ranga and the Ranganatha at Srirangam in Trichy district of Tamil Nadu which is known as Antya Ranga.
All the three Ranganatha temples are in islands of the Cauvery and all three are ancient structures, each with its own history. All the three temples are steeped in legends and all of them can be seen in a day.  
The first two Ranganatha shrines are in Karnataka and if you are traveling from Bangalore, it makes sense to visit the Ranganatha shrine in Srirangapatna first. The smallest of the three is Shivanasamudra and the biggest is at Srirangam.
The Ranganatha temple at Srirangapatna is one of the biggest temples in India and several dynasties, including the Gangas, Hoysalas, Vijayanagars, Wodeyars and even Tipu and Hyder have contributed their mite.  
Srirangapatna is on the Bangalore-Mysore road and it is just 17 kms before Mysore. It is about 120 kms from Bangalore. The name of the fort town of Srirangapatna comes after the Ranganatha.
This is right on the banks of the Cauvery and the first structure was built in 894 by Tirumalaiah of Ganga dynasty.
Legends attribute its founding to Sage Gautama. Subsequently, the temple was patronised and expanded by the Hoysalas of Dwarasamudra, Vijayanagars of Hampi  and Wodeyars of Mysore.
Both Hyder and his son Tipu set great store by the Ranganatha here and they were avid devotees. Tipu worshipped the deity and he had his noon meals only after the temple bell rang. His palace was opposite the temple and is in ruins today.
He even donated silver utensils and other endowments to the temple. The temple has been built in three stages-the innermost belongs to the Hoysala period, the Gopura belongs to the Vijayanagar period and it has six stories.
The Ranganatha reclines on the serpent or five-headed Sesha. The idol is believed to be more than 3600 years old and it was a gift from God himself. His consort is called Ranganayaki.
The chariot that is parked in front of the temple was a gift from Hyder Ali. The idols of Alwars and the Acharyas of the Srivaishnava tradition are enshrined here. There are deities dedicated to Srinivasa and Panchamukha Anjaneya, which were  installed by Vyasa Raya. The Chaturvimsati pillars in front of the inner entrance bear carvings of 24 forms of Vishnu
The temple is also known as the eastern (Purva) Ranganatha Kshetram, while the similar temple in the western part of the Cauvery River, also in an island is called the Paschima Ranganatha Kshetra.
The annual Ranganatha Swamy temple fair is held at the temple premises in the month of  December and January.
The temple was in the news recently when a Kalasha atop the Gopura toppled to the ground. Another Kalasha, which had become weak, was removed by ASI officials who will take o work on strengthening the Kalasha and complete it in five months. 
If you want to continue your trip and see all the three Ranganathas in one day, visit the Ranganatha at Shivanasamudra next. Shivanasamudra is 71 kilometres from Srirangapatna.
The Madhya Ranga is the most picturesque temple and the magnificent Gaganachukki and Barachukki falls are nearby as is Asia’s fort power station which was commissioned in 1902.
The Gaganachukki waterfalls is best viewed from the Shivanasamudra watch tower. There is another approach to the Gaganachukki falls from the Darga Hazrath Mardane Gaib.
The Ranganatha temple here belongs to the Hoysala period and this is the smallest of the three Rangas.
The deity is called Jagan Mohan Ranganatha, and it is about 8 feet in reclining posture. There are images of Goddess Cauvery, Takshaka or serpent, Ramanujacharya, Alwars and huge stone image of Sugriva in the temple.
The Temple was constructed by the Cholas and it is more than 1600 years old. Here, the Adi Sesha or snake on which Ranganatha or Vishnu is reclining is seven headed whereas it is five headed in Srirangapatna and Srirangam.
The idol is made of  Saligrama. On Vaikunta Ekadashi, the Alankara or decoration of Ranganatha with pure butter is simply too marvelous to describe.
Shivanasamudra is in Kollegal taluk and after seeing the Ranganatha here, you can motor down to Srirangam-Trichy via Kollegal and Hanur.  
The temple at Srirangam is not only the biggest of all the Ranganatha temples but it is the biggest temple in India. It is so huge that it would take you a day to see all the sights.
The Ranganatha here too is huge. Everything in the temple is constructed on a grand scale-whether it is the temple walls, gopuras, sanctum and idol.   
This Ranganatha here is called Antya Ranga and this is the last of the three rangas.
The temple is located on the eastern shores of the island, which appears like a conch in shape, one of the adornments in Vishnu's hands.
The deity is reclining on the bed of Sesha and he is seen with his consort Ranganayaki. There are many legends connected with the temple. Rama presented the idol to Vibheeshana, brother of Ravana. Another legend is that river Cauvery requested Ranganatha to reside at Srirangam.
The temple is also known for the legend of Andal,  a female Alwar of the Srivaishnava sect. She got married symbolically to the Ranganatha icon (Vishnu) as per her desire. The marriage took place in the sanctum sanctorum of the temple when Andal (said to be a incarnation of goddessLakshmi) merged with the image, and became a part of Ranganatha.
The temple is built in Dravadian style and the first construction is attributed to the period of Udayan Setupathi in association with Sri  Lankan prince Pararaja Sekara in 1414. The main sanctuary where the idol is consecrated dates to 11th century and the surrounding enclosures and pavilions belong mostly to the 17th and 18th centuries.
The massive temple took 350 years to complete with 35 villages granted for its maintenance. The sanctum sanctorum, square in shape, built with in circular shrine, is encircled by seven tier of walls of 25 feet (7.6 m) height) spaced at 120 yards (110 m), with outer wall measuring nearly 7 miles (11 km). There are twenty one towers or “gopurams” and some of them are unfinished and each forming a common gated entry and all of similar design.
The Raja Gopuram or chief tower is 13- tiered. It is 78 feet (24 m) in height and was built in 1987 by Ahobila Math and it can be seen for miles around.
There are many pavilions and shrines within the complex, including the stunning hall of 1000 pillars of carved granite and decorated with carvings. There are several small water tanks.
The corridors and pillars are huge and elegantly carved. The corridors are about 400 feet (120 m) in length with width varying from 17–21 feet (5.2–6.4 m) with a height of 30 feet (9.1 m) from the floor to the ceiling.
The total area covered by the temple precincts measures 865 feet (264 m)x657 feet (200 m).
The space between the walls of the temple complex has the well planned complete city of Srirangam with roads and houses. It is  the largest temple in South India.
It is possible to visit all the three Rangas in a day, provided you start early from Bangalore.
The best route is as follows.
Bangalore-Kengeri-Bidadi-Ramanagara-Chennapatna-Maddur- Mandya-Srirangapatna. This is about 125 kms.
The second leg from Srirangapatna to Shivanasamudra is 71 kms long and the best route is Srirangapatna-Malavalli-Bannur- Shivanasamudra.
The third leg is the longest and perhaps the most exhausting. It is from Shivanasamudra to Srirangam-Trichy and the route is Shivanasamudra-Kollegal-Hanur-Anthiyur-Bhavani-Thiruchengode-Namakkal-Musiri-Srirangam.
If you so want, you can see the Ranganatha at Srirangam and continuer further from Srirangam-Trichy to Thanjavur and look up the magnificent Brihadeshwara Temple. 
I have not covered several other tourist spots in and around the three islands as it would not be possible to visit them if your intention is to see the three Rangas.
Apart from this tour, you can also do a Pancharanga Kshetram tour taking in the Ranganatha of Srirangapatna, Srirangam, Appalarangam or Koviladi at Tiruppernagar and Vastarangam at Srikazhi. If time permits, the Sarangapani temple in Kumbakonam too can be visited. By the way, all these five are on the banks of the Cauvery too and except for Srirangapatna the rest are in Tamil Nadu.  



  1. Thanks for the info...This is the info I am looking for.
    Could you please tell me the near by places to Antya Ranga (except Thanjavur, kumbakonam and chidambaram, I already visited these places).
    I am planning for 3 day trip with my family. In one day I want to cover 3-Rangas. Please help in planning for remaining 2 days.

    You can drop a mail to

    Thanks and Regards
    Shiva Kumar Gone

  2. Thanks a ton for the info. I am planning to visit all these temples in one day during the month of Dhanur Masa with my family.