Vellayi Gopuram, Srirangam, Tamil Nadu

Vellayi Gopuram or the white tower (gate) is at the eastern entrance of Srirangam Temple. This tower is very different from all other towers of the temple, as it is the only one in monochrome that too white.

The word Vellayi means white, but it also represents the name of a Devdasi who sacrificed her life to protect the idol of the temple. The story is real and interesting. In the year 1323, Sultanate forces from north of India invaded the temple and looted it of its precious jewels and gold ornaments. The idol which too was studded with precious gems was hidden and the Sultan desperately tried to search it out. Approximately 12,000 people of Srirangam laid down their lives fighting against those Muslim forces.

The Vaishnavite Acharya, Pillailokacharya had taken the idol away and fled to Madurai. In order to distract the Sultan from his search for the idol, this Devdasi Vellayi danced non stop for hours entertaining him and his people. Towards the end she lured him to the top of the gopuram. Once there she pushed him down to death. Immediately after, she was overcome with guilt for having cheated somebody to death. She too then jumped down from the gopuram to her death.

 The then chief of Vijayanagara forces, Kempanna, defeated the Sultanate forces. He named the tower after Vellayi hailing her sacrifice and painted it white in her memory. So that is the story of why only this gopuram continues to be painted white.

SkyWatch Friday 

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32 Responses

  1. George says:

    Thanks for the photos of this interesting temple, as well as the information about the story behind it.

  2. TexWisGirl says:

    it is really neat. and thanks for the history behind it.

  3. Devdasi was very brave! What a shame her life ended so badly. Lovely memorial to her.

  4. Very Detailed Post about the Temple..The Temple Architecture is really pretty good.. 😀

  5. Sylvia K says:

    Thanks as always for the history and your wonderful captures are superb, Indrani!!! A beautiful temple it is! And lovely, peaceful skies as well! Hope you have a lovely weekend!! Enjoy!

  6. Karen says:

    Lovely captures. A sad story.

  7. ladyfi says:

    What amazing architecture!

  8. oh.. wat a sad story.. thx for sharing.Dont know hw many such sacrifices lies buried..

  9. Our photos says:

    Lovely captures and a sad story!
    Greetings, RW & SK

  10. Amazing architecture ! Nice post on this interesting Temple.
    Your Posts are highly informative.

  11. Fantastic architecture, Indrani, thanks for sharing!

  12. Carletta says:

    Interesting history and a very artistic piece of architecture!

  13. Oh Indrani.
    Thank you for this beautiful post and fantastic pictures.
    Greetings from Polish far.
    Lucia

  14. Beautiful. Plan to visit Srirangam again some time soon.

  15. eileeninmd says:

    Indrani, thanks for sharing this temple and its history. Beautiful photos. Have a happy weekend!

  16. The link of this post will be at Charcha Manch on 9th November, 2013.

  17. Nikhil says:

    Thanks Indrani for sharing the history behind this wonderful temple with us.Glad to have read this.:)

  18. Carver says:

    Beautiful memorial to her bravery.

  19. Beautiful temple with an interesting history. I am glad, I got to know something new.

  20. Pagan says:

    Frozen in time.. you have a way of delighting people. You be blessed.

  21. beautiful pics. Thanks for sharing.

  22. i only knew that this temple is part of a trio of ranganatha swamy temples in the south…interesting read.

  23. Beautiful gopuram and an interesting history.

  24. Proud of ancient Indians for their architecture as well as for their sacrifice! Thanks for the history…

  25. Namrota says:

    Such wonderful story behind a beautiful temple.

  26. I am glad you narrated about a great sacrifice and temple.No comments on pics.You have already superscribed your name!

  27. Najm Nisa says:

    Oh my my ! Look at the carvings at the temple !!!

  28. so much detailed post .. i wish i could get your life of travelling places !

  29. Pallavi says:

    I always wonder about the stories behind our marvelous structures. Amazing isn't it that the gopuram has a brilliant story behind it . Thanks for sharing 🙂

  30. Interesting! It [probably was brave to commit suicide. So noble in thought.

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