Rameswaram known as the ‘Varanasi of the South’ and also the 'Island of
Prayer' in Ramanathapuram district, is an island paradise of golden sand,
situated 174 kilometers south-east of Madurai and 20 km from Sri Lanka
across the Gulf of Mannar. This pilgrim center has two famous temples
namely Ramanathaswamy Temple and Kothanda Ramaswamy temple. Rameshwaram
is also one of the major marine food centres in South India, and much
of its fish and prawn catch are exported.
Mainly it is a pilgrimage centre for Shaivites and Vaishnavaites because
it was here, according to the Epic Ramayana, that Lord Rama rested before
and after his victorious battle with the demon king Ravana at Sri Lanka
and worshipped Lord Shiva to be cleansed of the sin of killing him. Another
reason is, this is the place from where Lord Rama, built a bridge Ram
Setu (also known as Adam's Bridge) across the sea to Lanka to rescue Sita.
These two reasons makes it one of the holiest places for the Hindus who
consider no pilgrimage complete without a dip in the sacred waters of
the Agniteertham calmed by Rama. The seat at this point is to be the most
calm found anywhere around the country.
The holy city of Rameswaram spreads over 51.8 sq.km and
swells with gentle sand dunes. Fringed by casuarina trees and stark palsm
dramatic landscapes that enhance the sacred mystery of the place. The
sea around the island is rich in fish and beautiful coral reefs. When
the sea is calm, it is possible to go in a boat to collect star-fish and
Places to See
Annai Indira Gandhi Road Bridge
To reach Rameshwaram, one have to pass over this impressive 2 km long
bridge. From here one can see large chunks of moss encrusted stones lying
at the bottom in the clear waters. According to Hindu mythology, these
are remnants of the bridge constructed by Lord Rama with the help of a
large brigade of monkeys. Also known as Pamban Bridge, it is this bridge
that provides the road and rail link with Ramanathapuram to Rameshwaram
at the very tip of India. It is the longest Sea bridge in India which
stands as a fine examples of Indian architecture. From here, adjoining
Islands and parallel Pamban Rail Scissors Bridge can be viewed from the
Sri Ramanathaswamy Temple (Ramalingeshwara Temple)
The Ramanathaswamy Temple sprawling over 15 acres is the main attraction
at Rameshwaram. Built by the Cholas in the 12th century, it is a fine
example of Dravidian architecture. The temple is situated near to the
sea on the eastern side of the island. Dedicated to Lord Shiva, Ramanathaswamy
Temple has temple elephants to welcome visitors and bless them with deliberately
gentle trunks for a small fee. There is a legend about the lingam here
which is said to have been built with mud by Sita after Rama fetched here
back from Lanka. The lingam, which was worshipped by Ram is called as
Ramalingam. The lingams are now housed in the inner section of the
temple not usually open to non - Hindus.
There are 22 sacred wells in the temple, each with water that tastes different
from the others. Devotees generally bathe in the sea at nearby Agni Tirtha
before entering the Temple where they sprayed with water from 22 wells,
known as Tirthas within the temple complex. A belief that Lord Rama himself
is said to have bathed here. Entry Fee Rs. 25/-. They pray to the Ganesha
here for family happiness and to Kalyanasundareshwar for a good marriage.
Non-hindus are not allowed beyond the third prakaram. Vishnu as Sheshnarayan
lies on his back on the sacred snake is a pose unique to this temple.
A spell bounding sight in the temple corridor is the longest in the country
- which seems to stretch to infinity- a total length of 1,200 metres flanked
by beautiful, ornate pillars. The temple has storey tower ( Gopuram ),
38.4 high. Festivals of particualr importance at the temple include Thai
Ammavasa on January, Maha Shivarthri on February/March, Mahalaya Ammavasai
-September and Thirukalyanam -July/August, celebrating the marriage of
Shiva and Parvati.
The temple is open fro 5 am to noon and 4 to 10 pm daily. Ph:
Kodandaramar Temple, on the way Dhanushkodi, is considered
to be the place where Vibhishanan (Younger brother of Demon King, Ravana
) surrendered and apologized to Rama. It was the only structure to survive
the 1964 cyclone that washed the rest of the village away. Inside the
temple, this story is portrayed in framed paintings inside the temple. Within
the temple, lit in the mellow light of the arti stand the beautiful, serene
images of Rama, Sita and Lakshmana flanked by an apologetic Vibhishana
and a triumphant Hanuman- the monkey God who ran errands for Rama are
worth seeing .
Five Faced Hanuman Temple
Situated 2 kms from the Ramanathaswamy Temple, it is one of the most famous
temple at Rameshwaram. The deity of the temple is Hanuman drawn with sindoor.
The temple got its name as five faced temple because, according to the
great Hindu mythology, Hanuman revealed his profile with five faces (
the five faces are of Lord Hanuman, Lord Narasimha, Lord Adivaraha, Lord
Hayagriva and Lord Garuda). The statues of all Rama, Laxman, Sita and
Hanuman are also placed in the temple. There is floating stone outside
the temple which was used to build the Sethu Bandhanam (bridge) in Ramayana.
Situated just over 2 km north of Rameshwaram it is hillock reached by
a black top road from the temple. There is a two storied mandapam. Rama
rested here before and after embarking for Sri Lanka. It is from here
that Hanuman is believed to have made the first leap to Lanka. From the
temple roof, one can see the surroundings of Rameshwaram and on clear
nights one can also see the lights of Jaffna. In the inner shrine are
the foot prints of Rama, worshipped with flowers, vermillion powder and
musical chanting. Timing: Daily 6-11am and 3.30 -6.30pm.
Situated 18 km south east of Rameshwaram is the old fishing village Dhanushkodi.
It has a vast stretch of sandy shores, which forms a marsh in the middle
of the northern side of the island.
This marsh gets a little water from the inundation during
the spring tides and supports nearly 6 species of migratory birds which
comes from Europe and Australia during October to January every year.
Ruins of the church and other government buildings constructed during
British reign are present here.
Nambu Nayagi Amman Temple
It is a beautiful temple situated in the Ramnad District. Situated at
8 kms from Rameswaram main temple on the way to Dhanushkodi, it is regarded
as a holy shrine and is visited by thousands of devotees from far and