Who destroyed Sri Ranganathaswami temple, Srirangam: The untold story!

Last Updated on June 22, 2022 by asoulwindow

Srirangam Temple Muslim Invasion: Who invaded Srirangam?

Who destroyed Sri Ranganathaswami temple, Srirangam? This is the story of Malik Kafur Attack on Srirangam, Thulukka Nachiyar and Vellayi Gopuram.

Who attacked Srirangam Temple? Who invaded South India? These are commonly asked questions. Srirangam flourished as a holy Vaishnavite site under the patronage of the great Chola Kings and Pandya Kings.

However, it was later threatened by cruel external forces. The ruthless Delhi Sultanate armies wreaked havoc on the peaceful Srirangam temples. Unfortunately, there have been several Muslim Invasions in Srirangam Temple. Srirangam temple history has gone through several ups and downs.

Name two kingdoms of the deccan conquered by Malik Kafur. Some of the devastating attacks by Malik Kafur include a series of invasions in the territories of

  • Yadavas Kings in the year 1308.
  • Kakatiyas Kings in the year 1310.
  • Hoysalas Kings in the year 1311.
  • Pandyas Kings in the year 1311.

This is the same man as Kafur in Padmavati movie. There are many books on Malik Kafur and his atrocities which you can read. Ranganathaswamy Temple history has many facets and this chapter is a part of it.

Were Malik Kafur and Alauddin Khilji gay?

Yes, Malik Kafur, who was not only a slave general of Alauddin Khilji but they were also homosexual lovers in a sexually intimate relationship. He was on an invasion spree. Alauddinn was the most treacherous of Muslim invaders of Delhi Sultanate. Their homosexual relationship was also shown vividly in the Bollywood movie Padmavat.

Soul Window Thoughts

As I grew up in India, I was taught distorted history. I discovered the atrocities of Islamic invaders and plunderers only when I visited places like Srirangam, Nalanda University of Bihar and Martand Temple near Srinagar in Kashmir.

Much of what we were taught in history books of India was just a figment of people’s imagination and not the reality! Despite the history of Srirangam Temple clearly mentioned in Kovil Olugu, the historians of India didn’t bother to tell the truth of Islamic invasions to the people. It is written in the Manipravala dialect of Tamil.

First Islamic Attack on Srirangam Temple by Malik Kafur

1311 C.E.

Who invaded Srirangam? Here is the tale of connection of Srirangam Temple with Malik Kafur. Like other sacred Hindu temple, Muslim Invasions happened in Srirangam as well. Not many people are aware of how the Delhi sultanate ravaged one of the holiest Vaishnavite temple. Malik Kafur had caused immense damage to the Srirangam Temple. This information on Ranganathaswamy Temple history is little-known.

The account of this story is mentioned in the Arabic texts of that era according to which, ‘Kafur had invaded a Golden Temple near Kanobari (Kaveri River). He plundered, looted and destroyed some parts of the holy temple and took away all the valuables including the golden icon of the deity back to where he came from – Delhi. This indicates that the temple mentioned here was Ranganathaswamy Temple.

Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple history 

Who ruined Srirangam? Sri Ranganathaswamy temple history goes back thousands of years. Here, I will talk about the recent medieval history of Srirangam, temple. This story dates back to the time when invasions of untouched South India co-incided with civil war like situation in what is now Tamil Nadu.

It was in the year 1310 C.E. when after the death of Malaverman Kulasekara Pandya I, a war for succession to the throne ensued between his two sons. Prince Jatavarman Sundara Pandyan III waged a battle with Jatavarman Veera Pandyan II.

While Jatavarman Sundara Pandyan III was the younger son and the legitimate heir to the king, Jatavarman Veera Pandyan II was the illegitimate older son who was also approved by the king. Eventually, Jatavarman Sundara Pandyan III lost the war to Jatavarman Veera Pandyan II.

Due to this Pandyan Civil War continued between the years 1308 and 1323 C.E. It changed the history of South India. Sundara Pandyan desperately wanted to change things and ascend the throne. In a hurry, he approached Alauddin Khilji for help in this matter. The religious bigot that Alauddin Khilji was. Saw an opportunity here.

Alauddin Khilji instructed Malik Kafur to head to Tamil Nadu from Devagiri in Andhra Pradesh. Needless to say, KAfur had least interest in solving the dispute of the two princes. His clear intention was to loot all the wealth that he could from Madurai.

He plundered through across the region which are present day Indian states of Karnataka and Madurai in Tamilnadu. His army was full of merciless, vicious mercenaries. Apart from attacking his targets, he left no chance to loot the places which fell on his way. It was a devastating military expedition for the Hindus.

Kafur had already attacked the great Hoysalas, Kaktiyas and Yadavas and made them tributary states of Delhi sultanate by force by 1311 C.E. Next on his radar was the Pandya country. The invaders had zero tolerance for the Hindu faith. Not only did they steal the statue of Alagiyamanavalar Perumal but also looted several precious gems, ornaments, jewels and other treasures.

Soul Window Observations

As we all know that Hindu temples are still the richest shrines of the world, so we can only imagine the level of loot which happened!

When Did Malik Kafur attack the Pandyas?

Who destroyed Sri Ranganathaswami temple, Srirangam? It was in the year 1311 in the month of March when the army of Malik Kafur invaded the Pandya empire through the pass at what is now known as Thoppur. He had failed miserably in capturing Vira Pandya, the son of MalavermanKulasekara Pandya.

Malik Kafur then looted and plundered in Chidambaram followed by his barbaric invasions in the holy site of Srirangam. Marching through the northern enclosures of Srirangam Temple, the army of Malik Kafur had easy control over the unsuspecting and unprepared Vaishnava saints that managed the temple.

Srirangam Temple and many other temples of India such as Padmanabhan Swamy of Thiruvananthapuram in Kerala, Shirdi etc are still known for their immense wealth and prosperity.

Needless to say, the army of Malik Kafur plundered and stole the treasury of the Srirangam Temple. Eventually Kafur and his army went back to Delhi by April 1311. In the next 10 years, the wealth of the temple was restored but the civil war, however continued to take its course here. However, this was waiting to be changed.

Second Islamic Attack on Srirangam Temple by Malik Kafur

1321 C.E.

Who else invaded Srirangam? 12 years after the uneducated tribal Malik Kafur attacked the highly cultured and advanced Vaishvanite Srirangam temple, another threat faced this great temple. The intensity of Islamic attacks on Srirangam between the years 1323 C.E. and 1327 C.E. were heart-breaking and inhumane.

Ghiyasuddin Tughluq or Ghazi Malik has a role to play here. Ghazi means ‘a fighter of Islam’. This is why he kept killing Hindus for a long time.

Ghazi malik had formed the Tughluq dynasty of Delhi. He was an uneducated barbarian who was a descendant of Indian Turkic slaves. Ulugh Khan or Muhammad bin Tughluq was the son of Ghazi Malik.

In the year 1321 C.E., Ulugh Khan and an army was sent by Ghazi Malik to lead an invasion in the southern peninsula of India. Luckily for Hindus, Ulugh Khan was badly defeated when he reached Warangal in present day Telangana.

1323 C.E.

Unfortunately, the cruel Ulugh Khan and his barbaric army-men were able to invade Warangal successfully in the year 1323. Next, he aimed to attack Ma’bar which is located in the Tamil Nadu state of present.

After their attempt to invade Tondaimandalam or Tondai Nadu (in Tamil Nadu) were successful, they set their evil intentions towards the wealthy holy site of Srirangam. A grand Hindu festival, which was blessed with the presence of 12000 Sri Vaishnavas was underway in Srirangam during the invasion.

Procession of the idol of Ranganathaswamy or Urchavar Azhagiya Manavala Perumal was going on from the Srirangam temple to another temple on the shores of the sacred Kaveri River which is also known as Ganga of the South or Dakshina Ganga. The temple priests had seen invasions just few years earlier.

It was Shri Srirangarajanathan Vaduladesika, who served as the chief priest of the Ranganathaswamy temple back then immediately stopped the procession and securely sent the idol and the wealth of the temple in undisclosed locations elsewhere in South India. The secret place is said to be Tirunelveli in Tamilnadu.

This proved to be a smart move because even before the barbarians could attack Srirangam, right decision was taken at the right time. The idol of Goddess Ranganayaki or Lakshmi Mata was also transported to another place by other Hindu devotees.

What followed next is anyone’s guess. The Muslim Invaders did what they know best. The army of Ulugh Khan arrived in Srirangam and desecrated the holy temple. However, when the vicious plunderer realised that the idol and the wealth is nowhere to be seen, he ordered something which can be termed as a black chapter in the history of Srirangam.


The horrifying event of Pannirayiramtirumudi-tiruttina-kalabham is clearly mentioned in Kovil Olugo. Unfortunately, Ulugh Khan or Muhammad bin Tughluq ordered his army to behead 12000 Sri Vaishnavas who had gathered at the temple to celebrate the festival peacefully.

Unfortunately, 12,000 brave Hindus lost their lives while fiercely defending in this battle. Some accounts also present these numbers at 13,000.

Even after the army had left, one chieftain from the army of Ulugh Khan had stayed back so that he could destroy the tall Gopurams of the temple.

Such was his audacity that he had even started staying right in front of the main temple. He exercised control over this region for some time. Perhaps, due to his bad karma, he suffered throughout his stay as several diseases had claimed his health.

Due to this, he relocated to Kannanur (Tamil Nadu) and attacked another temple, which he later converted to a mosque.

1371 C.E.

Did you known that it took a whooping 48 years for Urchavar Azhagiya Manavala Perumal to return back to Srirangam? To hide it from the Islamic Barbarians, the idols was relocated at several temples in the villages of Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Kerala until it was safely housed in Tirumala Tirupati in present day Andhra Pradesh. The idol remained here until 1371 when the temple at Srirangam was rebuilt.

During the reign of the wealthy and powerful Vijayanagar Empire, the idol had finally returned respectfully to where it belonged. It was the well-known emperor Bukka Raya I (reigned 1356–1377 CE), who was instrumental in bringing back the Ranganathaswamy temple to its true glory.

He was a prominent King of the Vijayanagar Empire from the Sangama dynasty. His son Kumara Kampana also contributed in restoring the temple. Not only the images of Vishnu ji and Lakhsmi ji reinstalled in the temple but extensive repair work, addition of new mandapas and fortifications were also done on a grand scale. The temple enjoyed 200 years of stability under the Vijayanagar Empire.

Vellayi Gopuram or White Gopuram: The legend

Who saved Srirangam temple from Islamic attacks? Let us now learn about this very interesting story of Srirangam Temple. Here is an interesting story associated with the Srirangam gopuram.

Of the 21 gopurams or temple tower gates which are located in the sprawling temple complex of Srirangam, the Vellayi Gopuram or the white Gopuram stands out. The word Vellayi is self-explanatory as it means ‘white’.

Vellayi Gopuram or White Gopuram of Srirangam and story of Thulukka Nachiyar

I have been to so many ancient South Indian Temples in India and foreign nations but never seen a white Gopuram ever. You can see the Srirangam Gopuram images in this blog.

In fact, it was the only white Gopuram I saw in Srirangam, Trichy and nearby Thanjavur during my South India tour on Golden Chariot Luxury Train. Curious, I wanted to dig deeper. What I found out was heart-breaking. This Srirangam temple Gopuram, which stood out due to its unusual white color, had a dark past.

The Vellayi Gopuram of Srirangam which is 44 meters tall or 144 feet tall, is not just any other Gopuram. It is bereft of the colours we generally see on Gopurams. This eastern tower has a painful story to tell. If you care to listen, that is!

Islamic attacks on other temples

Did you know that it was a norm in the Mughals days to attack Islamic and Buddhist temples and educational institutes? I have visited several such places and documented the same. Do read my blogs temples destroyed by Islamic invaders such as Martand Temple, Nalanda University, Qutub Minar, Dhai Din Ka Jhopra, Ramjanmbhhomi, Krishna Janmbhoomi, Somnath Mandir, Kashi Vishwanath Mandir, Modhera Sun Temple, Rudra Mahalay, Temples in Hampi, temples in Vrindavan, Meenakshi Temple etc.

Story of Vellayi Gopuram

Located at the eastern entrance of the Srirangam Temple, the story of Vellayi Gopuram is about patriotism, sacrifice and courage. The Vellayi Gopuram is built in the memory of a brave Devdasi who refused to bow under the pressure of ruthless Islamic invasions in Srirangam.

Based on real-life events, this story is about the supreme sacrifice of a woman who stood up against the Muslim invaders and lost her life while trying to protect the idol in the temple. The year was 1323 C.E. when the sultanate forces from North India had invaded the Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple.

When and why Islamic invaders attack Srirangam?

Who damaged temples of Srirangam? It was the Vaikashi month as per the Tamil calendar. Much massacre and loot followed. More than 12,000 brave Hindus sacrificed their lives in order to protect the temple at Srirangam.

India which had always been rich and prosperous was looted brutally by the Muslim invaders, Turks, British, Portuguese and French. Perhaps because they didn’t find anything worth stealing in their own nations. Before the invasions India had been very rich, both in terms of brains, material possessions and money. Until the loot began.

What did the plunderers steal

The Sultans had casted an evil eye on the idol of Namperumal. They suspected that it was made up of pure ‘Abaranji’ gold.

While the Muslim attackers were looting jewels of Lord Ranganatha, gold, silver and precious gems and other treasures, Pillailokacharya or Pillai Lokacharya, a Vaishnavite Acharya, relocated the idol of Namperumal away from the Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple to the nearby Madurai in the year 1323 C.E. It is so sad to even mention that it was not until the year 1371 C.E that the idol returned back to Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple. 

Islamic attacks on Srirangam

Furious, the marauding Sultans indiscriminately killed the temple authorities and civilians and desperately searched for both, Pillailokacharya and the idol of Namperumal. It was an unprecedented traumatic time for Hindus across India. Chaos and tension had invaded the spiritually and materially rich Indian soil. The situation was unpredictable and tense.

The threat of capturing the Acharya and snatching the idol was growing. Now comes the role of Vellayi Ammal, who took the responsibility of distracting the Commander of the forces and Sultans so that they mind is taken off the idol of deity. This helped Acharya Pillailokacharya in buying more time to escape with the idol.

How Vellai saved Srirangam from Islamic attackers?

Being a devdasi, a dancer and sevak (servant) of God, Vellai did what she knew best. She danced endlessly to keep the Sultan and his army entertained and distracted as the idol finds a safe haven.

As her dance was nearing its end, she tricked the Sultan to the top of Gopuram. After winning his confidence, Vellai Ammal pushed him down to his death as soon as they reached the top. However, feeling guilty of cheating him to death, she committed suicide by jumping off the Gopuram herself as well. The danseuse chanted the name of Ranganathar in her final moments.

Well, it was the great Kempanna, from the Vijayanagar empire, who valiantly fought and won over the shrewd Sultans. Later, he got the Gopuram painted in white and rechristened it as Vellayi Gopuram in the memory of the great Devdasi Vellayi.

To this date, the Gopuram is painted in stark white. Even during renovation, the Vellayi Gopuram is always painted in white. Here is the most comprehensive guide to Srirangam Vellai Gopuram.

Soul Window Thoughts

The astonishing part is that the Vellayi Gopuram has remained the same since centuries, as if silently complaining of all the atrocities the Muslim invaders inflicted on not just Srirangam but also other holy Hindu pilgrimages such as Jagannath Puri in Odisha, Konark Sun Temple, also in Odisha, Qutub Minar in Delhi, Martand Temple in Kashmir, Somnath temple in Gujarat and the Nalanda University in Bihar etc.

It is time we reflect and assess the damage done, not just on the temples but also the soul of India.

Vellayi: The real symbol of woman empowerment

I couldn’t help but get a few goosebumps thinking about the bravery of what was once just another Devdasi! The real-life story of the Vellayi Gopuram stands witness to the cruelty the barbaric Muslim invaders inflicted on peace-loving Indians. It is time we rewrite the history and tell people about who the real heroes of India were!

It is a pity that very few people know about the legend of Vellayi Gopuram. Crores of pilgrims and devotees visit Srirangam and barring a very small percentage of people most are oblivious to the sacrifice our Hindu ancestors made here. This is one aspect of the story of Sri Ranganathaswamy temple.

Srirangam gopuram deserves all your attention. Do take this off the beaten track! This is an unusual place to see in Srirangam. I have shared many Srirangam Gopuram Photos in this blog for your education on this less discussed topic.

Soul Window thoughts

The story of Vellayi Gopuram or White Gopuram of Srirangam reminded me of similar vicious attacks on the holy Sri Jagannath temple of Puri in Odisha. It was attacked 17 times by various Islamic invaders, Kala Pahar, being the most famous of all.

Where did priests of Srirangam Temple hide idols?

The priests of Sri Jagannath Mandir had to hide the idols of deities quite frequently, sometime relocating the idols to the Chilika lake and at others in far-away Hyderabad. No wonder, both Jagannath temple and Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple have strictly (and rightly) banned the entry of the non-Hindus. Who wants to be deceived and looted again?

The Mata Hari parallel

The Story of Vellai reminded me of the famous Dutch dancer and courtesan Margaretha Geertruida MacLeod, who was better known by her stage name Mata Hari (1876-1917).

This exotic dancer Mata Hari (often nude) was mercilessly executed at the age of 41 by the firing squad of France in Europe as she was accused of serving as a spy for Germany during the World War I.

Did you know that Mata Hari claimed to be a daughter of Devadasi? In fact, her Indian dance was very popular in the theatres of the war-ravaged Europe in early 20th century. Often called as Brahminic dance/Hindu/Hindou/Hindoue dance, it was quite a rage in Europe in those tumultuous times.

Soul Window Observations

India was both exotic, magical and mystical in a messed-up Europe of the 1900s. You would often see exotic women dancing in sari, bangles and bindi in the theatres of 20th century Europe. Some dances were even inspired by the Dhunuchi of West Bengal.

5 Devdasis or temple dancers from Pondicherry near Chennai, were brought to Europe in the year 1838 to perform in the theatres of Paris and London. German manager and theatre director Carl Hagemann (1867-1940) described the Tanjore or Thanjavur’s temple dances as refined and pure dance.

Brihadisvara temple of Thanjavur
Me at Brihadisvara temple of Thanjavur

Carl Hagemann is also credit with the staging of Vasantasena, a Sanskrit play in Mannheim in Germany in the year 1915. Even the ‘Hindu ballet’ Le Dieu Bleu played by the famous Russian ballet dancer Vaslav Nijinsky in (1915) hinted towards a Blue Indian God which could be Krishna ji or Shiv ji.

You can see the Statue of Mata Hari in Leeuwarden, Netherlands in the continent of Europe. I wish we made a similar statue of Vellayi in Srirangam!

Third threat to Srirangam Temple

17th century

Geo-political instability was unavoidable in this region after the downfall of Vijayanagar Empire here in late 16th century. This was when the Srirangam Temple found itself caught in wars between the powerful Hindu Nayaka Kings and the Mughals in 17th century.

Soul Window Facts

In order to protect the temple premises from the Muslim invaders, fortification of the temple was done and 7 prakaras with courtyards or 7 concentric enclosures were added to it.

These walls measure 32,592 feet or 9,934 m. This is equal to a whooping 9.6 kilometres or 6 miles. Today the temple has

  • 50 temples
  • 39 pavilions
  • 9 sacred water pools
  • Several small water-bodies
  • 17 main gopurams or the temple towers (total 21)
  • Ayiram kaal mandapam or the hall of 1000 pillars

In the 18th and 19th century, Christian and Muslim missionaries were also very active in Srirangam and the nearby Tiruchirappalli or Trichy.

Story of Thulukka Nachiyar or Tulukka Nachchiyar

Who is this Thulukka Nachiyar or Beebi Nachiar? This story is about Sri Ranganathar and his little-known Muslim consort! The literal meaning of Thulukka Nachiyar is Tughluq Princess or the Muslim lady. Thulukka Nachiyar love story is quite famous in South India.

In this section, I am sharing lesser-known facts about Thulukka Nachiyar history. Very few people know about this unique practise associated with Thulukka Nachiyar, a Muslim.

Interestingly, due to several Islamic invasions in Srirangam in the past, non-Hindus are strictly prohibited inside the premises of Sri Ranganathaswami temple, Srirangam! This is why many Muslims who live in and around Srirangam are not even aware of the worship of Thulukka Nachiyar.

Did you know that the image of Thulukka Nachiyar, also known as Surathani (or was it Sultani?) is worshipped as the divine consort of Vishnu Bhagwan in Srirangam temple? In fact, the image of Thulukka Nachiyar is also painted on one of the walls of Sri Ranganathaswami temple, Srirangam!

No where else in India, is a Muslim worshipped as a Goddess along with the Hindu Vishnu Bhagwan. The holy food, also known as prasad or naivaidhyam is offered daily to Ranganathaswami Bhagwan includes dal (lentil), desi ghee with roti (Indian bread). This is odd because mostly rice and not wheat in served in temples of South India. Interestingly, Thulukka Nachiyar is also offered the prasad, despite being a Muslim. The prasad here is offered on a cloth.

Soul Window Facts

Thulukka Nachiyar is also part of puja rituals in the temple. On certain occasions, the idol of Vishnu ji is bathed. After the idol of Vishnu Bhagwan is given a bath, instead of dressing him in a white Hindu dhoti, he is dressed in a red checked tehmet which is an Islamic cloth.

Story of Thulukka Nachiyar

What is the story behind Story of Thulukka Nachiyar? People also ask this question frequently. In the ancient Tamil language, an Islamic consort is called as ”Thulukka Nachiyar.” The literal meaning of Tulukkar in Tamil is a Muslim. It is a misinterpreted version of the original word “Turukiyar” which stands for Turks.

There is an interesting story behind the worship of Thulukka Nachiyar in the sacred Sri Ranganathaswami temple, Srirangam!

This dates back to the times when the temples of Srirangam faced massive destruction and Muslim attacks by the immoral Delhi Sultanate armies. These events dated back to the times when the peaceful India was struggling with some of its earliest Islamic attacks and invasions.

Predictably, during one such Islamic attack on Sri Ranganathaswami temple in Srirangam, the idol of Vishnu Bhagwan was stolen by the illiterate invaders. Soon the news of idol being kept in Dilli or Delhi reached ears of the main priests of the Srirangam temple. The temple management then sent a team to Delhi to bring back the sacred Bhagwan Vishnu idol. Some dancers had also travelled along with this team.

The dancers enthralled Alauddin Khailji and other invaders with their magical steps. Impressed with the dance, Alauddin Khailji offered the dancers to ask for a boon. The idol of Vishnu Bhagwan was dearest to the dancers, so they requested the Islamic invader to give them the pious idol of Bhagavan Shree Vishnu ji. The invader agreed to this.

However, by now his daughter which is known as Surathani, became attached to the idol of Vishnu Bhagwan because playing with the idol all day had become a part of her routine.  This was not what Sultan was expecting when he gifted the golden idol of Azhagiya Manavalan to her.

Soul Window Facts

Not many people know that a similar tradition is practised in the Thiru Narayana temple of Melukote in another South Indian state Karnataka.  The Muslim princess is called as ”Bivi Nachiyar.”in the Thiru Narayana temple. Interesting. Isn’t it?

Love of Surathani with idol of Azhagiya Manavalan

All the gold which was looted by Islamic plunderers from Srirangam were melted and deposited in the treasury of Alauddin except the idol of Azhagiya Manavalan which Surathani fell in love with. While the wealth from the Hindu temple was displayed, Surathani was enamoured by the idol and requested her father to not melt it and let her play with it as a toy. It is said that such was her love that she would never even leave the idol of Shri Vishnu Bhagwan for even a moment!

However, the team was able to walk away with the idol of Vishnu ji with them respectfully. Surathani became restless when she realised that the idol was nowhere to be found! She requested her father to bring back the idol.

He then sent her with the soldiers from his army to bring back the idol. After reaching the Srirangam temple, she was crestfallen when she realised that the idol is not present in Srirangam either. What happened was that the Srirangam team, to be on the safer side had chosen an alternate route as they expected another attack on them.

Unable to bear the loss, Surathani died in the temple premises. The separation from the idol was too much for her to bear. It was then that the pujaris or priests of Srirangam built a temple in the honour of Surathani.

Since idol worship is prohibited in Islam, they refrained from making the idol of Thulukka Nachiyar, the Muslim princess. Instead, she was represented in a small painting, where she looks like a Hindu Goddess. The palki or palanquin on which she travelled and the soldiers who accompanied her are also drawn alongside her image. A purdah or veil covers her face.

This sannidhi is located in the corridor which borders the garbhgriha or the sanctum sanctorum of the Srirangam Mandir. Many devotees do not even notice this. The temple for her is located next to Arjuna Mantapam.

Not many people know that the idol of Thulukka Nachiyar is taken around the town on the auspicious day of Vaikuntha Ekadashi in the month of January. The idol is taken out on such procession only once in a year. Grand festivities which take place during the annual festival of Kalyana Uthsavam with Arangan, include serving ghee laden roti with sugar as prasadam to both Naachiyar as well as Rangan.

Connection with Meenakshi Temple, Madurai

I have also visited the grand Meenakshi Temple of Madurai in Tamil Nadu. The Chithirai festival is celebrated with fanfare every once in a year in Meenakshi Temple. As a part of the festivities, Kallazagar, who is a form of the revered Vishnu Bhagwan travels all the way to Madurai to participate in the wedding ceremonies of his sister Meenakshi and Sundareswarar Bhagwan, both of which are also the main deities of the world famous Meenakshi Temple. However, there is an interesting tradition which He follows. Once he crosses the Vaigai River, as per the recent tradition, he spends a night with Thulukka Nachiyar before proceeding ahead towards Madurai.

The idol was brought back by Saint Ramanujan

This event has also been described in the Tamil literature known as Koil Olugu. As per the private records of Srirangam temple called as Guruparamparai Prabhavam, the events unfolded in the 12th century C.E. Guruparamparai Prabhavam was written in the 14th century C.E.

According to Guruparamparai Prabhavam, it was Saint Ramanujam who had recovered the idol and installed it again at Srirangam with respect. Saint Ramanujam was a renowned 11-12th century Vaishnavite preacher.

In order to celebrate the fruitful visit to Dilli by Guru Ramanujar which led to bring back the uthsava vigraham of Peruma respectfully, the Uthsavar is known as Selva Pillai. It is said that Beebi nachiyar had given this name to the sacred idol at the place of Sultan.

Soul Window Thoughts

I believe that the worship of Thulukka Nachiyar also reflects upon how flexible Hinduism or Sanatan Dharm is. I am yet to see any other such examples in other religions of the world, whether polytheistic or monotheistic! Sanatan Dharm which is the most ancient religion of the world is also the most accepting and liberal.

British Invasions on Srirangam

After the British invaders succeeded in controlling the French invaders, they turned their eyes towards Srirangam temple and wanted to invade it too. However, the 1000 strong army of fierce Hindu Rajputs who served Chanda Saheb stood as a force and didn’t allow the British to invade and damage the holy Sriranga, Temple and its premises.

Thanks to the bravery of the Rajputs, further damage to the temple was stopped. Not many know that the European invaders also caused immense damage to architectural heritage of India, such as Elephanta Caves in Mumbai in Maharashtra.

Conclusion: Srirangam awaits justice

Muslim invasion of India continued throughout the medieval period. Srirangam was one of those places which was attacked by Islamists.

The fanatical plundering of Srirangam temples and Madurai by Malik Kafur and Military Commander of Alauddin Khilji along with their uncivilised army in 1311 will be always remembered. I feel only past can teach us what not to let happen in the future!

I personally feel that there should be a proper memorial which commemorates the several devastating Islamic attacks on Srirangam. Jalianwala Bagh of Amritsar in North Indian state of Punjab is one of the few such memorials we have in India. Only when we remember the past, can we look towards a positive and peaceful future.

The view from my Soul Window is hard to look at!

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2 thoughts on “Who destroyed Sri Ranganathaswami temple, Srirangam: The untold story!”

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