Tamil Nadu’s historic Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple in Srirangam became a national symbol of conserving cultural heritage after bagging an Award of Merit from UNESCO.
It is a matter of pride that out of over 43 applications spanning ten countries that competed for the 2017 UNESCO Asia-Pacific Awards for Cultural Heritage Conservation, the Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple is the only religious centre in the whole of South India to bag the award in 2017.
On a side note, the famous Christ Church in Mumbai and Royal Bombay Opera House are the other historic Indian monuments that received the Award of Merit this year, in addition to the temple.
The temple was lauded by the international body for undertaking renovation and beautification work worth over Rs 20 crore without harming its centuries-old heritage
Speaking to the Times of India, authorities at the temple expressed that UNESCO connected to them, communicating the temple has been selected for the award.
According to the temple authorities the Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple, the first temple in Tamil Nadu to have ever received a mighty recognition and award from UNESCO.
The honours and awards by the UNESCO for cultural heritage conservation were graded under four different categories including Award of Excellence, Awards of Distinction, Awards of Merit and Award for New Design in Heritage Context.
The idea behind the award is to honour and boost the efforts of all stakeholders and the general public striving to conserve and promote heritage monuments and religious institutes across the Asia-Pacific region.
The award was bestowed upon the temple after the development and conservation work taken up by temple management was reviewed by a jury of over nine international heritage conservation experts.
A quick historic view of the Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple:
Mentioned Tamil literature as early as the Sangam era and the epic Silapadikaram, the archaeological inscriptions on the walls of the temple from 10th century AD, chronicle the stories of the Chola, Pandya, Hoysala and Vijayanagar dynasties. From the formation of agarams (agraharams- Brahmin settlements) at Gunasila Mangalam, a village owned by the temple as tax-free ‘thirunamathukkani’ to the role of the horse merchants of Kulamukku of Kerala in building these agarams, the temple is a treasure trove of India’s ancient history.
The legends call it one of the eight self-manifested shrines of Lord Vishnu, and one the most important of the 108 main Vishnu temples. It is known by several names such as Thiruvaranga Tirupati, Periyakoil, Bhoologa Vaikundam, Bhogamandabam.
The temple with its complex stretching over 156 acres with a perimeter of 4,116 m (10,710 feet), is the largest temple in India and one of the largest religious complexes in the world.
The temple has over seven prakaras or enclosures, which are formed by thick and huge defensive walls running around the holy shrine. With over 21 magnificent towers inside all prakaras, the visitors have an equally different and mesmerizing sight of the beauty around. This temple lies on an island formed by the twin rivers Cauvery and Coleroon.
The annual 21-day festival conducted during the Tamil month of Margazhi (between December and January) attracts over 1 million visitors.