Tiruchirappalli is the headquaters of the district Tiruchirappalli. Most of us know this place for REC, Trichy, one of the best REC's in the country. Trichy is also home to Sir Chandrasekhara Venkata Raman, the first Indian Nobel Laurate in Science. Some facts on Sir C.V. Raman :
• Chandrasekhara Venkata Raman, was the first Indian Nobel Laureate in science.
• Till date Sri C.V. Raman remains the only Indian to receive a Nobel Prize in science. There are two Indian-born scientists viz., Har Gobind Khorana and Subramanyan Chandrasekhar (who became US citizens) and got Nobel Prizes in science.
• He was also the first Asian and first non-white to receive any Nobel Prize in the sciences.
• Sri C.V. Raman was the paternal uncle of Subramanyan Chandrasekhar
• What he felt when he received the Nobel Prize :
"When the Nobel award was announced I saw it as a personal triumph, an achievement for me and my collaborators -- a recognition for a very remarkable discovery, for reaching the goal I had pursued for 7 years. But when I sat in that crowded hall and I saw the sea of western faces surrounding me, and I, the only Indian, in my turban and closed coat, it dawned on me that I was really representing my people and my country. I felt truly humble when I received the Prize from King Gustav; it was a moment of great emotion but I could restrain myself. Then I turned round and saw the British Union Jack under which I had been sitting and it was then that I realised that my poor country, India, did not even have a flag of her own - and it was this that triggered off my complete breakdown."
Trichy is also home to the S Pulney Andy (probably Palaniandi). There is a road in near Royapettah hospital called Andy road, it is said that it is because the road was built on part of the land owned by Pulney Andy!!! Ok so what? Well He is the First Indian Doctor to receive a British Medical Degree(http://goo.gl/kr9m78).
So much for personalities, let's look at culture. The Cauvery Delta is an important aspect as at the delta is the island of Srirangam. Interestingly it is said that the name Tiruchirapally is derived from 'Tiru' addressing someone with respect, 'chirapalli' is 'siram'(head) and 'palli' (to sleep), which is how Lord Vishnu is resting on Ananta(the king of Nagas). The Ranganathaswamy Temple is located at Srirangam, and counted among the 108 Divya Desams dedicated to Lord Vishnu. A huge and Majestic temple complex, considered one of the largest functioning temples in the world. Angor Wat, in Cambodia is the largest temple complex in the world(non-functioning). Walking through the complex is an experience by itself. The Raja gopuram is considered one of the tallest. The body of the Hindu saint Ramanuja has been preserved within the temple complex. The roof access gives you a complete view of all the gopurams. The entire temple complex is built over about 156 acres of land. The temple enclosed in 7 concentric walls, has 21 gopurams. There is also the Hall of Thousand Pillars - Ayiramkal Mandapam; Incidentally this is larger than the Madurai Meenakshi one. Amongst the gopurams is 'Rajagopuram' the largest in Asia. There is a roof access that gives you a complete view of all the gopurams. One can check at the Eastern entrance for access. Another interesting aspect is the body of the Hindu saint Ramanuja that has been preserved within the temple complex.
Close to the Ranganatha Swami Temple and adjacent to Srirangam is Thiruvanaikoil(5th Century AD). Also known as Thiru(respect)+Aanai(elephant)+kaval(guardian)(http://goo.gl/O14rtx). Dedicated to Lord Shiva, this is a revered as one of the 'pancha bhoota stalam' and is the embodiment of water, hence known as Appustalam. Birthplace of the world-renowned Nobel Laureate C. V. Raman.
The next Prominent landmark of interest is the Rock Fort Temple, also known as the Ucchi Pillayar Koil, Malai Kovil, Malaikottai, the Rock Fort is a unique experience. At about 272 feet high the rock itself is considered to be as old as the rocks of Greenland and considered one of the oldest formations in the world. This is also one of the unique locations where one finds a Ganesha temple at the summit, usually it is Subramanya or Muruga.
Ucchi Pillayar, where 'Ucchi' means top and 'Pillayar' means noble child refers to Ganesha. There a connection between the Ranganatha Swamy temple at Srirangam and this temple. The story is that Ravana's brother Vibhishana was returning to Lanka after the coronation ceremony of Lord Rama. He was carrying a 'vigraham'(an idol used for worship) of Lord Ranganatha. The sun was beginning to set when he reached Trichy, and hence it was time for evening prayers. A bath in the river Cauvery before prayers was apt, however he was warned that the idol would remain fixed at the place it touches the ground. In a dilemma and wondering what to do he noticed a small Brahmin boy and requests him to hold on to the idol while he has a dip in the Cauvery river. The boy agrees. No sooner had Vibhishana entered the river and took the dip, the little boy put idol down. Vibhishana on seeing this becomes extremely angry and chases the little boy, who run up the hill. At the top Vibhishana catches up with the boy and gives him a punch on the forehead. The little boy reveals himself to be Ganesha, and Vibhishana apologizes and begs forgiveness on realising the truth. Ganesh informs him that the idol is destined to remain there(Srirangam) and bestows blessings on Vibhishana. It is said that one can notice a small depression on the forehead of the Ganesha idol.
There are also two cave temples with beautiful architecture, built by the Pallavas. Around one-third to the top is the Thayumanaswami temple, dedicated to Lord Shiva(http://goo.gl/cPmJSf). There are also numerous inscription on the wall and is said to date back to Mahendravarman I(pallava king, 7th century)
There are also other places of interest. The Samayapuram Mariamman temple is an important place of pilgrimage dedicated to the Goddess Shakthi and is the considered mother of all Sakthi temples.