Rameshwaram is one of the holiest places in Tamil Nadu region in southern India. It is one of the most renowned pilgrim places in the region and is located on a beautiful island in the lower side of India and is separated by a small Pamban channel from Sri Lanka.
Rameswaram is the holiest pilgrimage place for the Hindus. Every year several people visit the place with holy intentions of offering sacred prayers to Lord Rama. It falls in the Gulf of Mannar and is a peninsula. According to the Hindu mythology, this is the place where Lord Rama created a bridge across the sea to Sri Lanka. Lord Shiva too is worshipped in this place. It’s a place where Ravana was killed and hence it has a great historical foundation. It is also known as Varanasi of southern India.
It has one of the famous Jyotirlings in the place which one would like to worship as a part of Hindu culture. The place has several wonderful temples, which are a great master piece of creativity. The place has highest number of wells as well.
It is a holy place to perform several rituals and people from all across the globe come at this particular place to worship Lord Rama and offer sacred prayers to the holy deity. The place has wonderful sculpture of Lord Rama encarved in several walls of the temples and the statues of the lord are made with great artistic essence.
The history of Rameswaram is centred around the island being a transit point to reach Sri Lanka (Ceylon historically) and the presence of Ramanathaswamy Temple. Tevaram, the 7th–8th century Tamil compositions on Shiva by the three prominent Nayanars (Saivites) namely Appar, Sundarar and Thirugnanasambandar. The Chola king Rajendra Chola I (1012 – 1040 CE) had a control of the town for a short period. The Jaffna kingdom (1215–1624 CE) had close connections with the island and claimed the title Setukavalan meaning custodians of the Rameswaram. Hinduism was their state religion and they made generous contribution to the temple. Setu was used in their coins as well as in inscriptions as marker of the dynasty.
According to Firishta, Malik Kafur, the head general of Alauddin Khilji, the ruler of Delhi Sultanate, reached Rameswaram during his political campaign in spite of stiff resistance from the Pandyan princes in the early 14th century. He erected a mosque by name Alia al-Din Khaldji in honour of victory of Islam. During the early 15th century, the present day Ramanathapuram, Kamuthi and Rameswaram were included in the Pandya dynasty. In 1520 CE, the town came under the rule of Vijayanagara Empire. The Sethupathis, the breakaway from Madurai Nayaks, ruled Ramanathapuram and contributed to the Ramanathaswamy temple. The most notable of them are the contributions of Muthu Kumara Ragunatha and Muttu Ramalinga, who transformed the temple to an architectural ensemble. The region was repeatedly captured several times by Chanda Sahib (1740 – 1754 CE), Arcot Nawab and Muhammed Yusuf Khan (1725 – 1764 CE) in the middle of 18th century. In 1795 CE, Rameswaram came under the direct control of the British East India Company and was annexed to the Madras Presidency. After 1947, the town became a part of Independent India
Rameswaram Tourist Attractions
Sri Ramanathaswamy Temple: Sri Ramanathaswamy Temple, is situated on the eastern side of the island next to the seashore. Sri Ramanathaswamy Temple is renowned for its prakaras or corridors with massive sculptured pillars on either side. The temple also has the longest corridor in the world, which is 197 metres long from East to West and is 133 metres wide from South-North. The construction work in the temple has been taken by various rulers since 12th century. Daily pooja in the temple is performed in the morning to the Spadikalingam that was given by the Shankaracharya to this temple.
|Sri Ramanathaswamy Temple, Rameswaram, Tamil Nadu, India|
|Sri Ramanathaswamy Temple Inside view, Rameswaram, Tamil Nadu, India|
Agnitheertham: Agnitheertham of Rameswaram is the sacred beach in front of the main entrance of Sri Ramanathaswamy temple. The seashore, very calm and ideal for bathing, is considered sacred among pilgrims who perform poojas in honour of their ancestors at this seashore.
Gandamadana Parvatham: Gandamadana Parvatham, an amazing location, is a hillock situated about 3 kms from the temple of Rameswaram. The hillock provides an amazing view of the entire Rameswaram Island and also has an imprint of Lord Rama’s feet on a chakra.
Satchi Hanuman Temple: Satchi Hanuman temple of Rameswaram is believed to the location where Hanuman delivered the good news of finding Sita to Lord Rama with satchi or evidence, which was the Choodamani or the jewel that belonged to Sita. The temple situated around 3 kms from the main temple of Rameswaram, on the way to the Gandamadana Parvatham.
Five-faced Hanuman Temple: Five-faced Hanuman Temple, about 2 kms from the main temple, is the temple of Hanuman drawn with senthooram. The temple has idols of Lord Ram, Sita and Hanuman brought from Dhanushkodi during the 1964 cyclone. The temple also holds the floating stone that was used to build the Sethu Bandanam or the bridge between India and Lanka.
Jada Theertham: Jada Theertham, situated about 3.5 km from Rameswaram on the Dhanushkodi road, is the place where Lord Rama believed to be washed his hair (Jada) to purify himself before worshiping Shivalinga.
Dhanushkodi: Dhanushkodi is a strip of land about 1 km wide and 18 kms long on the eastern end of Rameswaram Island. The two seas on each side, Indian Ocean and Bay of Bengal look like a bow and the strip of land looks like an arrow giving the name Dhanushkodi. The tip of the land is considered to be very sacred to perform religious sites.
Ramalingavilasam Palace: Ramalingavilasam Palace of Rameswaram was built by Sethupathi Rajas in the 17th century in Ramanathapuram. The palace shows colorful murals painted with natural dyes that depict everything from business meetings to military conflicts. The palace also houses a museum of the weapons used by the Sethupathis in the various wars.
Kurusadai Island: Kurusadai Island is an island located in the Gulf of Mannar (about 4 kms from Mandapam) that is a Marine Biosphere. The island has Marine wealth that attracts lot of researchers and Marine Biologists to view its coral reefs, and marine life such as the dolphis and sea cows or Dugong. To visit the island tourists need to take permission from the Fisheries Department.
Annai Indira Gandhi Road Bridge: Annai Indira Gandhi Road Bridge is one of the longest sea bridges in India with the length of 2.2 km and stands as a fine example for Indian architecture. It is also known as the Pamban Bridge and connects the Rameswaram Island with the main land. The road bridge is designed like a bow over the sea to allow ships to pass beneath it. A portion of the rail bridge opens up like a scissor that lets the ships pass under it.
Ariyaman Beach: Ariyaman Beach is a sought after tourist spot with calm and gentle sea waves. The beach is clean and fringed by Casuarina trees that give a nice shade to the tourists. The tourists can also use the waterside attractions with water scooters and wind surfing and aquarium and museum.
Devipattinam: Devipattinam is a coastal village situated about 70 kms from Rameswaram has a temple dedicated to Devi who is said to have killed the demon Mahishasura at this spot. It is believed that Lord Rama calmed the sea at this coastal village to install nine stones representing the Navagrahas or the nine planets. The Hindus perform religious rites for the forefathers here.
Water Bird Sanctuary: Rameshwaram and surrounding areas are a paradise for bird watchers as the place is frequented by water birds from October to January during the north-east monsoon season. The native birds come for feeding, while the migratory birds, from as far as Europe and Australia, come for breeding. The main bird watching places are Arichamunai Bird Sanctuary at Dhanushkodi, the Kanjirankulam and Chittirankudi Sanctuaries on the mainland in Ramanathapuram.
Uthirakosamangai: Uthirakosamangai, 72 km from Rameswaram temple, is an ancient Shiva Temple with its deity carved in Emerald. The rare life-size 1.83 metres tall, emerald Nataraja statue of Uthirakosamangai that remains covered in sandal paste throughout the year is unveiled for just one day in December on the Arudhra darshanam day. To witness this sacred event, thousands for pilgrims come from all over the country.
Other temples in Rameswaram: Badrakaliamman Temple, dedicated to Devi Durga; Sugreevar Temple; Nambu Nayagiamman Temple (8 km from Rameswaram); Villoondi Theertham (7 kms from Rameswaram main temple); Kothandaramaswamy Temple (12 kms from Rameswaram); Vinayagar temple in Uppoor (85 kms) are another important temples to be visited by tourists as well as devotees.
How to Reach Rameshwaram
How to Reach Rameshwaram by Air: The nearest airport is at Madurai (167 km), which is linked to major cities in the country by domestic airlines.
How to Reach Rameshwaram by Rail: The railway station receives meter gauge trains from Coimbatore, Trichy, Madurai, Thanjavur and Chennai, which in turn are connected to the rest of the country. Rameswaram is well connected to all the main towns in Tamil Nadu by road as well.
How to Reach Rameshwaram by Bus: Chennai is quite a distance by road (666km); Madurai is the nearest big town (167 km). The Pamban Bridge connects Rameswaram to the mainland.
Getting Around Rameshwaram: Local buses are the only conveyance that helps to communicate to different prominent places in the city. A number of town buses provide quality services that help you reach to your place of interest. The buses run from early morning till late hours of the day. Other than buses, cycles can also be hired at the few shops that charge nominal rate on hour basis.