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One of the main attractions is the ancient Tiruchirapali Rock Fort & Temple Complex. The complex is perched on an immense boulder that is 256 feet high. This boulder is one of the largest such formations on our planet and is also one of the oldest at 3.8 million years of age. The Vinayak temple, dedicated to Lord Ganesh and built in 580 AD, is located at the very summit. You may not want to ascend to the top as you have to climb 437 steps that have been cut into the rock itself. The Fort complex was built much later and has a legacy full of tales of blood and valor; it changed hands numerous times as it was conquered by various dynasties till it eventually landed in the control of the British in the late 18th century. There are a few cave temples in the complex with beautifully carved panels and pillars as well as a temple dedicated to Lord Shiva.

At the base of the boulder is the Manikka Vinayakar temple, a large and impressive Hindu house of worship and you may want to explore this if you choose not to make the climb. There is also a tank and a pavilion which are used during the float festivals of the temples. Among all these temples you will find an 18th century Church that was built by Reverend Schwartz, a Danish Priest who was part of the British occupying garrisons.

See the spectacular island temple complex of Srirangam, dedicated to Lord Vishnu. This complex covers 156 acres and is one of the largest religious complexes in the world. Although this temple is mentioned in Tamil mythology as having existed for many millennia, archeological studies of the current structure date it back to the 10th century AD. It is surrounded by 7 concentric walled courtyards that add up to over 6 miles of walls. There are 21 magnificent Gopurams (Tower gateways) and there are festivals celebrated in this complex on about 322 days every year. Within the temple there are many impressive shrines as well as a colorful mix of flower markets, restaurants and other stores catering to the worshippers. Non-Hindu’s are not allowed past the 6th wall and thus cannot enter the gold crowned inner sanctum.



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