Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple, India + Trichy Travel Tips
The main reason for visiting Tiruchirappalli (Trichy for short) is the Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple complex, a vast collection of temple towers and carved pillars on the outskirts of this busy city in the southern state of Tamil Nadu. The other reason to visit is that it’s one of the cheapest destinations in India to fly to from Southeast Asia. A combination of the two bought me to Trichy in May, amid the sweltering heat of early summer. Are you planning a trip to Trichy? I’ve compiled some Trichy travel tips as well as a visual tour through one of the most striking temples in Asia.
Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple
The local bus dropped me a short walk from the main gate of Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple. The candy coloured carvings of this mammoth structure stood tall over streets full of chaos and commerce. From there it was a short walk to the main part of the temple through more colourful gate tower things (officially known as gopurams). The massive towers (the largest being 72 metres — the tallest temple structure in Asia) are definitely the highlights, but there is a lot more to see on the inside (although non Hindus can’t access the inner sanctum).
Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple is free to visit, although you might have to pay a few rupees to store your shoes. An official looking guy will probably offer to show you the rooftop where you’ll get a good view of the towers — take him up on it but beware that he’ll put the hard sell on you to tour you around the temple. It’s easy enough to reject the advances but that kind of thing does get annoying!
The Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple complex is one of the largest in India and it takes a good hour or two to explore. There are some nice carved pillars to see as well as various temple structures both small and large. I’m not really into the religious side of things (I just like seeing cool buildings) but if you want to learn more about the meaning behind what you’re seeing a guide would be a good idea.
Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple Information
- Cost: Free
- Location: Around 14 km from the railway station. An auto rickshaw should cost around INR 200 or you can take a local bus (lots seem to go there – ask a local!).
- History: Most of what you see dates back to between the 14th and 17th centuries, although the biggest tower was only completed in 1987.
Other Things to Do in Trichy
Rock Fort Temple
The other main place to see in Trichy is the Rock Fort Temple, located on a hill close to the centre of town. There are quite a few stairs to walk up but the view from the top is worth it. There is also an old church close to the Rock Fort Temple and some other temples scattered throughout the city.
A day trip to Thanjavur
I’ll be writing a full post about this so I won’t go into too much detail, but I recommend checking out Thanjavur if you’re in the area. It’s only a 90 minute train ride from Trichy and you’ll get to see Brihadishvara Temple, built in 1003 AD, as well as a fort / palace complex.
Trichy Travel Tips
- Where to stay: I stayed right next to the train station and it was convenient (although not the nicest area). I stayed at Sankar Inn (it seemed like the best budget / midrange option in the area) and it was a solid choice.
- Getting around: I took the bus to both the Rock Fort Temple and Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple and a train to Thanjavur. Travelling on local transport in India can be confusing at times but there are always plenty of locals willing to help. I even got a free breakfast from the couple I was sitting next to on the train. Auto rickshaws are another option — they are cheap (especially if you are travelling with someone else) and convenient but don’t forget to bargain!
- Where to next? There are so many onward travel options. You could stay in Tamil Nadu (Chennai, Pondicherry, and Madurai) or head pretty much anywhere else in India. I went to Madurai next (2.5 hours) and then to Mysore, Hampi and further north eventually ending up in Kolkata. There’s no particular route or tourist trail in India so pick the places that seem the most interesting to you and try to make it happen.
Are you planning a trip to India? Which temples are you most excited to visit? Let me know in the comments below!