South Gopura, Outer Enclosure

Ranganatha Temple, Srirangam

Ranganatha, the largest temple complex in Tamil Nadu, measures 950m by 816m (about a half-mile square) along its outer perimeter. It consists of seven nested enclosures (plan), whose walls are pierced by towered gates (gopuras) along the four cardinal axes leading from the shrine. Visitors approach from the south, and the shrine faces in this direction. The temple's outer three enclosures contain an entire town, with streets, houses, and shops. The inner four enclosures define the religious zone. The temple is dedicated to Vishnu Ranganatha (i.e., Vishnu sleeping on the cosmic serpent).

Shown here is the outermost and largest gopura (closeup). The tower is 72m (about 220 feet) in height, and dates from the 17th century, although it was completed only in 1987.