Thursday, April 14, 2016

Ranganathaswamy Temple, Srirangam – Fourth Enclosure (Aalinadan Thiruveedhi)

Ranganathaswamy Temple, Srirangam – Fourth Enclosure (Aalinadan Thiruveedhi)
The walls of this 4th prakara were built by Thirumangai Alwar and hence this prakara is named after him. Through the Karthikai gopuram one can enter this 4th enclosure. This enclosure houses one of the biggest mandapas for Garuda among the 108 Divya deshams. The mantapa has over 200 pillars and is the most beautiful mantapa in the temple. One can also have darshan of the sacred Surya pushkarani near the Garuda Mantapa. It is also called as Aalinadan Thiruveedhi. It is considered as Maharloka.

In the fourth court, non-Hindus may admire in its southern wing the Temple of Venugopala Krishnan, whose outside walls are decorated with very beautiful sculptures in high relief like young women playing the Zither (Veena) or with a parrot or putting the finishing touches (Tilaka) to their appearance before a looking glass.

A climb to the terrace overhanging this temple affords a general view of the Temple of Srirangam. This court also has a museum with highly interesting objects. Non-Hindus are also admitted to the eastern courtyard of this enclosure, which is dominated by the Vellai gopura. In the south there exists the famous Sesharayar Mandapa.

Opposite to this is the Hall of Thousand Pillars, constructed between the 14th and the 17th century, in which icons of gods and goddesses, Alwars and Acharyas are displayed during the great annual festival of Vaikuntha Ekadesi in December and January. The front of the mandapam is embellished with figures of Vijayanagar soldiers and horsemen fighting lions.

On the northern side of this enclosure, is the Paramapada Vaasal, also called as the Swarga Vaasal (the door to Vaikuntha). This door opens only once a year during the Vaikuntha Ekadashi festival. Opposite to Paramapada Vaasal is the Dhanvantri temple. Among the 108 Divya deshams, this is the only temple to have a shrine for Lord Dhanvantri.

Besides Sri Dhanvantri shrine, there is the sacred Chandra pushkarani. On the north eastern corner of this enclosure is the temple of Sri Kodanda Rama, Paramapadanathan, Keelapattabhirama and Lord Srinivasa. There is also Andal glasshouse located in this enclosure.