Photograph from an album of 41 albumen prints by Edmund David Lyon. The Ranganatha Temple on Srirangam Island, opposite Tiruchirapalli, is the largest temple complex in India. It was founded and enlarged between the 13th and the 17th centuries and is surrounded by 7 concentric walls and 21 towers or gopurams. The gopurams date mostly from the 16th-17th centuries and are brick and plaster pyramidal towers with projecting porches in the middle of each diminishing storey. They increase in size from the innermost enclosure outwards and are completely covered with vividly coloured plaster figures. Srirangam enshrines an idol of Vishnu (here called Ranganathaswamy) reclining on a great serpent. In this view the gopuram (temple tower) is unfinished, with only the base constructed. Lyon's 'Notes to Accompany a Series of Photographs Prepared to Illustrate the Ancient Architecture of Southern India', edited by James Fergusson, gives the following description: 'The island is fourteen miles long by two miles broad, and at its western end is situated the principal pagoda dedicated to Vishnu, said to be one of the largest in India; its outer wall being nearly four miles in circumference. It has four entrances, one facing each of the cardinal points. The one here shown, which is on the south side, is the only one of the four external gateways whose base is even completed. Had the usual pyramid of brick been added, Mr. Fergusson calculates it would have risen to the height of 200 feet. The base is built of hewn granite, and is about 60 feet high, 130 wide, and 100 feet deep. The opening being 20 feet in clear width. The monolithic blocks of grey granite on each side are 40 feet long, and five feet in diameter. Its erection was commenced by the Poligar dynasty, and interrupted in the struggle between the French and English in the middle of last century.'