Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Ranganathaswamy Temple, Srirangam – Mandapams (Halls)

Ranganathaswamy Temple, Srirangam – Mandapams (Halls)
Thousand Pillared Hall:
On the northeast side of the temple is the impressive "Hall of a Thousand Pillars." Each of the 5.5m (18 ft.) granite pillars is intricately carved. This hall actually has only 953 pillars. In the center of the hall is a pedestal shaped like a processional car. During Vaikuntha Ekadasi, the processional deity is brought to this pedestal before going on procession. 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 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 center 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. 

Rangavilas Mandapam:
The Rangavilas Mandapam hall is located directly in front of the southern gate of the fifth Enclosure. Next to this (to your left as you enter the southern gate) is the small, intricately carved Venugopala Temple. Inside the porch of the Venugopala Temple there are paintings which show Krishna having pastimes with the gopis (cowherd-girls).  
Garuda Mandapam:
The Karthikai gopura in the third enclosure of the Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple leads to the Garuda Mandapam that has 14 rows and is the most beautiful Mandapam in the Temple. The Garuda Mandapa (hall of the legendary bird deity of Vishnu, garuda) located on the south side of the third enclosure is another Nayak addition.

Courtly portrait sculptures, reused from an earlier structure, are fixed to the piers lining the central aisle. A free-standing shrine inside the hall contains a large seated figure of garuda; the eagle-headed god faces north towards the principal sanctum. The light and airy mandapa (17th century) fronts the south entrance to Enclosure 3, its aisles defined by piers with attached colonettes. The roof is supported by corbeled bracketing.
Kili Mandapam:
The Kili Mandapam (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. The embellished shafts, stalks and balustrades depict the decorations in Kili Mandapa, a hall named after parrots.
A long frieze running the basement of the Kili mandapam from its northern and right up to the side steps leading on to it contains a number of panels depicting figures in high relief in different dance poses.  The panels are intercepted at regular intervals by projecting niches containing stone figures in the round.  Most of these are now missing and the only sculpture now existing seems to depict Vishnu with four arms, in standing posture.  The dance-poses of these panels are worth detailed study. 
Tondaiman Mandapam:
The Tondaiman Mandapam is located in the first enclosure and the ceiling is decorated with paintings.
Kambar Mandapam:
While staging the Kamba Ramayana in the temple, some objected to the mention of Lord Sri Narasimha in the Ramavatara story.  Kambar said that he would withdraw this part of the epic, if Lord Himself so demanded.  Lord Sri Narasimha emerged from a pillar and approved Kambar’s writing as true.  Lord Narasimha in the temple graces from a separate shrine in the name of Mettazhagia Singar near the Mother’s shrine. The Mandapam where Ramayana Arangettram took place is opposite the Mother’s shrine.

Arjuna Mandapam:
The eastern part of the first enclosure contains two Mandapams - Arjuna Mandapam and Kili Mandapam.
Shesha Mandapam:
The Shehsaraya Mandapa (Horse court Hall) is on the east side of the temple. It has 8 intricately carved monolithic pillars of men on rearing horses. The most artistically interesting of the halls that the Nayaks added to the complex is the Sesha Mandapam on the east side of the fourth enclosure. The hall is celebrated for the leaping animals carved on to the piers at its northern end.

The walls of this hall is inscribed with pictures of war horses with soldiers on the back that raise their hoofs to kill a wild animal, which give a weird feeling in such serene temple premises. The leaping animals like Leopard find their place in the Sesha mandapa, an exclusive and unique add-on to the piers of 4th enclosure to the temple donated by Nayak Dynasty.

The aisles in the hall are equally spaced out and the court related sculptures are religiously preserved. Exotic figures beneath the rampant horses include a fanciful elephant-lion, and a Portuguese soldier wearing a European hat and tunic can be found in this mandapam. The interior of the mandapa contains images of all ten of Vishnu's major incarnations.

A sculpture showing Matsya, the fish that saves mankind during a great flood can be found in this Mandapam. The recently made colored marks indicate that the statue is currently a subject of devotion. Sculpture showing Hanuman was swallowed by a crocodile. He defeated the crocodile by growing to giant size and using his supernatural strength to escape.