Srirangam, one of the holiest and important religious seat in India. Little known is Srirangam is one of the politically important places in the annals of history.
Two major attacks rocked Srirangam was Malik Kafur’s(1311) hit and run attack and the second was Ulugh Khan(1323) invasion. However the later one had a permanent impact in Srirangam for a long time.
During the Panguni(March) Bramothsavam annual festival, Lord Azhagiyamanvala permual(Utsavar) will be taken to Panri Azhwaan sannidhi which is near present day Thavarasan Padhithurai in Kaveri river. This event is happening for many years on 8th day of the festival.
Ulugh Khan a.k.a Muhammad Bin Tughlak of Delhi sultanate invaded south India and established Madurai Sultanate. As part of capturing Madurai, Srirangam was invaded by Tughlak. However, Madurai sultanate short lived for around 50 years and it met the end in the hands of Vijayanagara Empire.
In 1323, on Panguni (March) 8th day of the festival, Azhagiyamanavala Perumal(Utsavar deity) Of Lord Ranganatha, was taken to Poliyutu Mandapam, Panri Azhwaan sannidhi. Around 12,000 Srivaishnavas took part in the festival. Ulugh Khan invaded Srirangam during Panguni Bramotsavam festival.
Swami Pillailokacharya, an important Acharya was informed about the invading forces which where already close to Samayapuram. In order to protect the deity, they have decided move out the deity from Srirangam. A pallakku(wooden box) was prepared immediately and deities are placed in the pallakku. At the same time, a strong wall constructed in front of the Moolavar deity in the temple to conceal it from the invaders and jewels are kept under a vilva tree in the temple. Only handful of people knew the plan. Many of them were not aware about the invading army. Reason why the deities were protected because apart from looting the jewels, invaders were notorious in damaging the temples.
Azhagiya manavalan deity was accompanied by Swami Pillailokacharya and few other attendants through thick forests and finally reached placed called Jyotishkudi, near Madurai. However because of the old age, Swami Pillailokacharya left earth at the age of 120. Sishyas of Swami decided proceed to Azhagar malai(outskirts of Madurai) with the deity.From there they went to Kozhikode(Kerala) and stayed there for a year. Again they moved to Thirukanambi. In 1343, Deities moved to Thirunayanapuram(Karnataka) and finally reached Thirupathi in 1360.
At the same time, Swami Vedantha Desika, another important Acharya fled to Sathyakalam(Karnataka) with Sruthaprakasika , work of Sri Sudarsana and latter’s two sons.
Event After Deity Moved away from Srirangam
After deity moved from Srirangam, invading army reached the panri azhwaan temple and mercilessly beheaded all the 12,000 Srivaishnavas gathered for the festival. Temple was also damaged.
During these years, Vijayanagara kingdom was established by Harihara I and Bukka I and became a strong force in south India. In 1371, Kumara Kampana,son of Bukka I decided to destroy Madurai sultanate.He launched an attack on them and defeated Sikkandar Shah, last sultan. With that defeat, Madurai Sultanate came to an end.
After the defeat, Azhagiyamanavala Perumal returned to Srirangam on 17th day of Vaikasi,1371. Just before the return, they stayed in a place called Azhagiyamanavalam. This village is even present today near Thirupanjali.
For 48 years, Azhagiyamanavalan was stayed outside the temple. Under Madurai Sultanates, Srirangam temple was almost defunct.
Chronological Order of Events
- 1323 March -Srirangam
- 1323 (April-July) -Jyotishkudi
- 1323-25 – Azhagarmalai, Thirumalirumcholai
- 1325-26 – Kozhikode
- 1326-27 – Thirukannambi
- 1327-28 – Thirunarayanapuram
- 1328-43 – Melkottai
- 1344-70 – Thirupathi
- 1371- Returned to Srirangam
Kumara Kampana renovated the temple and restored the glory of Srirangam.
In the work Madhura vijayam, Ganga devi wife of Kumara Kampanna gives a view of how Madurai looked under Sultan rule
I very much lament for what has happened to the groves in Madhura. The coconut trees have all been cut and in their place are to be seen rows of iron spikes with human skulls dangling at the points.
In the highways which were once charming with the sounds of anklets of beautiful women, are now heard ear-piercing noises of Brahmins being dragged, bound in iron fetters.
…The waters of Tambraparni which were once white with sandal paste rubbed away from the breasts of charming girls are now flowing red with the blood of cows slaughtered by the miscreants
Places Damaged in Srirangam Temple
- Dhanvantri Sannidhi – It was served as hospital during those times. It was set ablaze to prevent treatment of patients
- Gold plated Dwajastabha – It was donated by Jatavarma Sundara Pandya I
- Dwarapakala Sculpture in Aryabhatal vaasal. (one of the entrances of the temple)
- Aryabhattal Gopuram
- Nazhyigai kettan vaasal
- Varahanayana deity in Pavitrosava mandapam
- Garuda which was build by Pandyas
- Chakarathazhwaar Sannidhi
- Yanai(Elephant) Mandapam
Kozhil olugu, book on history and temple administration of Srirangam narrates this invasion as Panniraayiravar mudi thiruthiya mettu kalagam which means story of 12000 people beheaded.
For the sake of readability, only key information is written. Although this happened a long time back, those places even exists today to narrate the story for generations to come.
- Koil olugu, published by Srivaishnavasri
- Madhuravijayam by Gangadevi