Tamil Nadu’s Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple wins UNESCO award

The Sri Ranganathaswamy temple at Srirangam in Tamil Nadu has won UNESCO Asia-Pacific award for cultural heritage conservation programme in the Awards of Merit category. It is first temple from Tamil Nadu to grab the prestigious honour from the UN body.

The temple won the award in recognition of its efforts for protecting and conserving cultural heritage. The traditional method of renovating temple premises as well as re-establishment of rainwater harvesting and historic drainage system in preventing flooding were two key parameters that earned temple the award.

UNESCO Asia-Pacific awards for cultural heritage conservation programme

The awards were launched in 2000 by UNESCO for cultural heritage conservation programme. They are given under four categories– Award of Excellence, Awards of Distinction, Awards of Merit and Award for New Design in Heritage Context.

These awards aim at acknowledging efforts taken to restore and conserve historical structures without affecting their heritage value in region comprising 48 countries. They are being given to encourage the efforts of all stakeholders and the public in conserving and promoting monuments and religious institutes with rich heritage in the Asia-Pacific region.

Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple

It is one of the most illustrious Vaishnava temples in South India. It has been mentioned Tamil literature as early as Sangam era. The temple is treasure trove of India’s ancient history. It is constructed in the Tamil or Dravidian style of temple architecture.

The legends call it one of eight self-manifested shrines of Lord Vishnu and one of the most important 108 main Vishnu temples. It is known by several names such as Thiruvaranga Tirupati, Bhoologa Vaikundam, Periyakoil, Bhogamandabam.

This temple lies on an island formed by twin rivers Cauvery and Coleroon. Its complex stretches over 156 acres with perimeter of 4,116 m. It is the largest temple in India and one of 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. It has over 21 magnificent towers inside all prakaras.

The main entrance of temple known as Rajagopuram (royal temple tower) is 73m high and moves up in eleven progressively smaller tiers. The temple annually hosts 21-day festival during the Tamil month of Margazhi (between December and January) which attracts over 1 million visitors.