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Tiruchchirapalli, commonly known as Tiruchi or Trichy formerly was called Trichinopoly in British colonial period. The name of the town, Tiruchchirapalli, originated as a tribute to a Jain monk called Chira. Thiru in Tamil means respected. According to another popular legend, Tiruchirapalli was named after a three headed demon Trishira, the son of Ravana, who performed penance at the Siva temple here and obtained boons. Some also believe that the name originated as Thiru Javvandhipuram, the place of marigold flowers because this flower grows in great abundance in and around this region.
After Chennai, Coimbatore, Madurai, it is the fourth largest city of the Indian state of Tamil Nadu. Trichy is situated almost in the center of the state on the banks of the Kaveri River. Trichy city is the administrative headquarters of Tiruchirapalli District. Trichy is famous for Srirangam, the foremost Vishnu temple and the biggest functioning Hindu temple in the world. The other important Hindu temples are Thiru Anaikka, one of the Panchaboodha Sthalam, five main abodes of Lord Shiva. The Nobel Prize winner for Physics, Chandrasekhara Venkata Raman (Sir C.V. Raman) was born in Thiruvanaikaval and his house has been preserved as a museum.
Trichy is an ancient town with its recorded history going back more than 2500 years. It was the capital of Chola Dynasty. The oldest manmade dam across the Kaveri River about 10 miles from Uraiyur was constructed by Karikala Chola. The town retained its importance throughout the Chola dynasty and then under Nayak rulers up to the early British East India Company period. The Madurai Nayak rulers exchanged their capital between Madurai and Tiruchirapalli several times. The conquest of Tiruchirapalli by the British East India Company marked a major step in the British conquest of southern India.
The Rock Fort is a famous landmark of Trichy. It is situated on top of a massive rock that is about 83 meters or 272 feet high. It is very conspicuous in the neighboring very flat landscape. Trichy is often called the “Rock City” also. On its top there is the Ucchi Pillayar Koil dedicated to Vinayaka (Ganesh). One has a panoramic view of the entire city from the temple. Half way on the rock is The Thayumanaswamy Temple that is dedicated to Lord Shiva. This temple has a 100-pillar Mandapam (hall) and a Vimana covered with gold. Some times the Nayaks used the temple as a fort. On the southern face of the rock there are cave temples of the Pallava dynasty period that have beautiful carvings. The commercial town below the fort is known for its textile enterprises and is called Chatram. During the Christmas, Diwali and Pongal festivals the main guarded gate of the town is crowded with local people. Trichy is also famous for having the maximum number of churches and chapels in the entire country. The important churches in Trichy are ‘The Holy Redeemer’s Church’, ‘Lourdes Church’ and ‘The Cathedral’. The most important social service organization in the city is the ‘Rotary Club of BHEL City’. Among the churches of Trichy, St. Joseph College Church that is located on the campus of same name is perhaps the most impressive.
About 6 kilometers or 4 miles north of Trichy is the Sri Ranganatha Swamy Temple at Srirangam. The temple has a reclining idol of Lord Vishnu among his many other idols. This is perhaps the most revered shrine dedicated to Lord Vishnu in entire southern India and is the largest temple complex in the world. This temple is located on a 2.5 square kilometers or 1.5 square mile island covered with thousands of coconut palm trees in the middle of Kaveri River. The temple is enclosed by seven concentric walled courtyards and has 21 Gopurams (tall rectangular structures above the gates of a temple) that have been built at various times in the temple’s long history. The newest one is also the tallest at 73 meters or 240 feet and was added to the wall in 1987. There is a bridge connecting the Srirangam Temple Island to the city. The temple has some of finest carvings and sculpture in southern India in its various shrines dedicated to different Gods.
About two kilometers or a little over a mile east of Srirangam Island is another very interesting Hindu temple, the Jambukeshwara Temple dedicated to Lord Shiva. This temple has five concentric walls and seven Gopurams. The legend behind the name of the temple is that an elephant had worshipped Lord Shiva under the holy Jambu tree giving the place the name of Jambukeshwara. The deity of Shiva in this temple is in the form of a Shiva Lingam that is almost submerged in water that flows from a subterranean spring inside the sanctum sanctorum.
The Samayapuram Mariamman Temple is about 12 kilometers or 7.5 miles north of the city on the Trichy-Chennai National Highway 45. It is dedicated to the goddess Mariamman, a Shakti incarnation of the mother Goddess and is the most popular temple in Tamil Nadu State. The most favorite offering brought by the devotees is comprised of jagery, rice-flour, dhal (lentils) and ghee. Many local people believe that the Goddess cures small pox and chicken pox. Samayapuram, also known as Vikramapuram, was a provincial capital of the mighty Vijayanagar Dynasty rulers in the neighborhood of Trichy.
Thirunedungalanathar, Lord Shiva Temple also known as Thirunedungulam, is located at about 6 kilometers or 4 miles east BHEL (Bharat Heavy Electrical Limited) and about 4 kilometers or 2.5 miles from NIT (National Institute of Technology) and is dedicated to Lord Shiva. This is another magnificent example of Chola temple architecture in southern India. This temple has been referred to in the famous poetry, Alvars-Thirugnana Sambanthar.
Other interesting temples in and around the Trichy city are Vayalur Subramaniya Temple, Anbil, Appakudathan and Thiruvallarai Vishnu Temples, Uraiyur Nachiyaar Temple, Uraiyur Vekkali Amman Temple,
Thiruppaigeeli Shiva Temple, Gunaseelam Vishnu Temple, Iyyappan Temple in the Cantonment area of Trichy, kaatazhiagiya Singar Perumal Koil at Srirangam, Brahma Temple at Thirupattur and Thirupparaithurai Shiva Temple.
The Kollam Pond in Crawford area, along which the Trichy Madurai Train track runs, has a vast variety of domestic birds including various species of Ducks and Kingfisher. Fishermen spread nets in the pond by floating on car/truck tubes.
Places near Trichy:
Thanjavur, located about 54 kilometers or 34 miles from Trichy was another ancient capital city of the Chola Dynasty rulers. It is world famous for its magnificent Brahadeeshwarar Temple that is dedicated to Lord Shiva. The temple has some very special and ancient paintings from the Chola period. It also has a museum with artifacts from the Chola period. The Thanjavur Art Gallery has a rich collection of bronze icons and granite sculptures dating from the 9th century CE. Thanjavur is famous its Art Plates, handicrafts, hand-woven silk, bronze icons, intricately inlaid brass work and bejeweled paintings.
Pudukkottai Samasthanam, located about 58 kilometers or 36 miles from Trichy, is a pre-historic town that is of interest to historians, anthropologists, archaeologists and lovers of art. There are numerous dolmens, stone circles and megalithic burial sites dating from pre-historical period. Various rulers have constructed beautiful palaces, water pools and canals in this town. The Shri Brahadambal Temple is a cave temple that was excavated out of a rock about 900 years before the Pallava dynasty period. The other interesting temples are Bhuvaneswari Temple, Thiruvappur Mariamman Temple and Santhanatha Sivan Temple. The museum at Thirugokarnam has an interesting collection.
Gangaikonda Choleswaram, about 100 kilometers or 62 miles from Trichy, is a Shiva Temple that was constructed under the patronage of the Chola Dynasty ruler, Rajendra I to commemorate his victory over the kingdoms in region where Ganga River flows in the north of the country. In this temple there is a massive Nandi (Shiva’s bull) statue, several other beautiful sculptures of various deities including one that of a dancing Lord Ganesh, a spring in which the water emerges from a lion-head and remarkable sculpture that depicts the builder, Rajendra I being crowned by Lord Shiva and his consort, Parvati.
It is believed that Karikala Chola had the Grand Anicut at Kallanai dam constructed across the Kaveri River in 1st century CE. It is about 24 kilometers or 15 miles from Trichy. It is still an important part of the region’s irrigation system.
Mukkombu is a beautiful scenic spot where the Kollidam River branches out of Kaveri that is frequented by local people for picnics. It is about 18 kilometers or 11 miles from Trichy.
Viralimalai that is 30 kilometers or 19 miles from Trichy has a hilltop temple dedicated to Lord Subramanya near a Peacock Sanctuary.
Sittanavasal at about 58 kilometers or 36 miles from Trichy is the site of an ancient Jain monastery with fine fresco paintings in a cave. Nearby are pre-historic burial places.
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Distance from Tiruchchirapalli in Kilometers and Miles:
Chidambaram: 173 Kilometers or 108 Miles
Gangaikonda Choleshwaram: 100 Kilometers or 62 Miles
Madurai: 142 Kilometers or 88 Miles
Mahabalipuram or Mamallapuram: 354 Kilometers or 220 Miles
Ooty: 302 Kilometers or 188 Miles
Pondicherry: 243 Kilometers or 151 Miles
Thanjavur: 54 Kilometers or 34 Miles