Rangasthala is located in the Chikkaballapur District of Karnataka. This temple has been built by the Hoysala kings and recently renovated by the efforts of devotees. Sri Moksha Ranganatha is the presiding Deity in this temple.
The abode of Lord Moksha Ranganatha
Veiled in the mountain range of Nandi Hills is the temple of Sri Moksha Ranganatha in Rangasthala. It is believed that if devotees visit this temple in Rangasthala, after visiting Adi Ranga in Srirangapatna, Madhya Ranga in Shimsha and Anta Ranga in Srirangam, they achieve liberation or moksha. Hence the Lord is known as Moksha Ranganatha.
How Lord Ranganatha manifested in Rangasthala
Towards the end of Treta Yuga, Lord Rama killed Ravana and returned to Ayodhya. The whole of Ayodhya regained its life after having Lord Rama returned after fourteen years of exile. Soon Pattabhisheka ceremony was performed and Lord Rama was crowned as the King of Ayodhya during the ceremony. Vibhishana also attended this pattabhisheka ceremony of the Lord. While returning to Lanka, Lord Rama gifted Vibhishana His house Deity of Lord Ranganatha in a bamboo basket to worship in Lanka, as a token of love and gratitude.
According to the local legend, the seven sages were living in a nearby cave in Skanda-giri Hill. In remembrance of the pastime of Lord Rama gifting the Deity to Vibhishana, the seven sages installed the Deity of Lord Ranganatha in Rangasthala and began the worship. The Deities of Sri Ranganatha in Srirangapatna, Srirangam and Rangasthala were installed at the same muhurta (an auspicious time). Later the Hoysala Kings constructed a beautiful temple here.
The Deity of Lord Ranganatha is an eka-shila shaligrama murti. It means that this Deity is carved in a single piece of shaligrama stone. Sleeping on the Ananta Sesha, the Lord has very beautiful body features and His smile is very enchanting. This Deity is one of the most beautiful Deities of Ranganatha. Since the Lord is so beautiful He is also known as Jaganmohana – one who enchants the Universe. On the lotus feet of the Lord are Neeladevi and Bhudevi. His lotus feet are en-marked with auspicious signs. Lord is surrounded by Lord Brahma, Lord Shiva, Ashta-dik Palakas (eight devatas who are incharge of eight directions), His transcendental weapons, Kalpa-vriksha (the wish fulfilling tree), Kamadhenu (the heavenly cow) and Garuda (the carrier of the Lord). All these personalities are ready for His service. This is exactly how the Lord is in Vaikuntha.
The temple architecture is a wonderful workmanship of the Hoysala style. The temple has a huge Rajagopura, followed by a mantapa with beautiful pillars and the prakara surrounding it. The garbha-griha is like a bamboo basket and it appears that Lord Ranganatha is in the middle of the basket. The garbha-griha has a pradakshina marg also. In the vicinity of the temple is the temple of Srimati Lakshmi-devi. Shankha Tirtha and Chakra Tirtha are also there in the temple. This temple is surrounded by lush green gardens and groves of trees.
Festivals Celebrated in the Temple
There are many festivals which are celebrated in this temple with great grandeur. Few of the festivals are:
Makara Sankranti: on this day thousands of devotees throng to this temple to witness an unforgettable event. The sun-rays fall on the lotus feet of the Lord through a window; which takes place only once in a year. Anyone who takes darshan of the Lord’s lotus feet on this day, is blessed with the fulfillment of his desires.
Brahmotsava: this festival is celebrated from Margashira Ekadashi to Bahula Dvitiya. Brahma Ratha is held on the Purnima day.
Pavitrotsava: it is celebrated from Ashvija Ekadashi to Purnima
Apart from these grand festivals, other festivals are Vaikuntha Ekadashi, Mukkoti Dvadashi, Ratha Saptami, special days of Shravana and Karthik month. Panchamrita abhisheka is performed every Saturday to Sri Ranganatha and any day devotees want to perform. Every Friday panchamrita abhisheka is performed to Lakshmi Devi.
How to Reach Rangasthala
One has to travel 6 kms on the road towards Gauribidanoor from Chikkaballapur to reach this temple.
Sthala-purana as written in the temple.