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The temple on the River Cauvery - Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple, Srirangam

Rich in legend and history, the Sri Ranganathaswamy temple or Thiruvarangam has all the architectural magnificence of an ancient south Indian temple combined with the wonder it creates through sheer size and its location on an islet formed by the twin rivers Cauvery and Coleroon. The temple dedicated to Ranganatha, a reclining form of Vishnu, is set over 156 acres in Srirangam, Tiruchirapalli. Constructed in the Dravidian style, it is considered the most important of the 108 main Vishnu temples and is glorified in the Thiviya Pirabandham, the Tamil literature canon of the Alvar saints from the 6th–9th centuries AD.

The Sri Ranganathaswamy temple’s location, on the cusp of two rivers, has rendered it vulnerable to natural disasters as well as the rampaging of invading armies – Muslim and European – which repeatedly commandeered the site for military encampment. The main entrance, known as the rajagopuram (the royal temple tower), rises from the base area of around 13 cents and goes up to 237 feet, moving up in eleven progressively smaller tiers. It has 21 towers in all and is an awe-inspiring sight.

The annual 21 day festival conducted during the Tamil month of Margazhi (December–January) attracts 1 million visitors. Srirangam temple is often listed as the largest functioning Hindu temple in the world and one of the largest religious complexes in the world.