Towards a visitor friendly and sustainable pilgrim and cultural destination complex: The story of the World’s largest functioning temple

Srirangam or Thiruvarangam is a beautiful river island in Tamil Nadu state in South India. The main attraction of the destination is the renowned Sri Ranganatha Temple, the world’s largest functioning temple complex spanning one hundred and fifty six acres. The site has structures dating over thousands of years to the sixteenth century making it a must visit archaeological and epigraphic site. Some of the structures in the shrine were facing wear and tear and was in need of an urgent and massive restoration in order to preserve it and to ensure a safe visitor environment. Furthermore, there was a problem with overcrowding, need for basic amenities including proper water management and financing. The responsible Departments collected various data regarding the problem areas and had a series of meetings and workshops which involved active participation of other departments concerned with the destination. This resulted in the identification of three timebound thrust areas to address all the major issues faced by the destination: conservation of the heritage complex, addition of visitor friendly facilities and a sustainable green temple model which attracted funding by a couple of big business groups.

Keywords: Solid waste reduction, Waste disposal, Tangible cultural heritage, Health & safety Pilgrimage Tourism sustainable temple model, green temple project, cultural heritage conservation, BHOG certificate, visitor facilities, destination makeover, temple security, low impact mobility on site

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