Rameswaram, (also spelt as Ramesvaram, Rameshwaram) is a town and a second grade municipality in the Ramanathapuram district in the South Indian state of Tamil Nadu. It is located on Pamban Island separated from mainland India by the Pamban channeland is about 50 kilometres from Mannar Island, Sri Lanka. It is situated in the Gulf of Mannar, at the very tip of the Indian peninsula. Rameswaram is known for one of India’s most venerated and most visited Shiva shrines, dedicated to Sri Ramanathaswamy. It is so intimately associated with the life of Sri Rama, the hero of the epic Ramayana, that both Saivites and Vaishnavites consider every grain of Rameswaram’s sand very sacred. The religious island is spread in an area of 61.8 square kms. and happens to be in the shape of a conch. This island was the place where Lord Rama worshipped Lord Shiva in order to cleanse away the sins after he killed the Ravana, king of Lanka and also built the bridge across the sea to bring his consort, Sita back from Ravana.
Rameswaram is the closest point from which to reach Sri Lanka from India, and geological evidence suggests that the Rama Sethuwas a former land connection between India and Sri Lanka. As a result both the Shaivites and Vaishnavaites sects of Hinduism visit this holy place. Rameshwaram is an important year round pilgrim destination. The renowned Ramanathaswamy Temple stands in the heart of the Rameshwaram city. This is one of the most popular temples in India. It represents the real essence of culture and religion of people of India in form of a small miniature. Rameshwaram is the abode of one of the 12 Jyothirlingas of India. It is also considered one among four most sacred pilgrim centers of India. They are Rameswaram in the South, Badrinath in the North, Puri in the East and Dwaraka in the West. Among these, Rameswaram is dedicated to Shiva, while the other three are dedicated to Vishnu.
Tourist Attractions in Rameshwaram :
Ramanathaswamy Temple :
One of the twelve Jyotirlinga Temples dedicated to Lord Shiva, the temple of Ramanathaswamy is an architectural excellence built in the 17th century. A must visit pilgrimage for both the Vaishnavite as well as the Shaiva sect of Hinduism the temple constitutes a major part of the popular spiritual tourism destinations in India. the Sri Ramanathaswamy Temple is a part of the Char Dham pilgrimage of the Hindus. Ramanathaswamy Temple, lies on the eastern side of the island, having different types of corridors and sculptured pillars on both the sides. This corridor is quite long and measures around 197 metres from east to west. It is also 133 m wide, measuring south to north, which is built in the Dravidian style architecture. Sri Ramanathaswamy Temple is famous for its collection of Lingas, which were made up of sand, salt, stone and other elements. According to stories, there were around 112 ponds here out of which only 12 are left. This popular tourist attraction in Rameshwaram with the second largest pillared corridor in the world is one of the must visit tourist places in Rameshwaram. This temple is believed to have been built on the site where Rama worshipped Shiva in order to do penance for killing the Ravana, king of Lanka. There are twenty-two wells in the temple and the taste of the water in each well is different from each other.
Five Faced Hanuman Temple :
The temple is famous for its unique incarnation of the mighty monkey god Lord Hanuman. Highly revered by the Hindus, the temple of Five Faced Hanuman is only 2 km from the Ramanathaswamy Temple. It is believed that Hanumana revealed his five-faced form for the first time in this place. These five faces were that of Lord Hanuman, Lord Adivaraha, Lord Narashima, Lord Hayagriva and Lord Garuda. It is believed that after revealing His secret, Hanuman was decorated with senthooram by the saints and is listed among the most prestigious places to see in Rameshwaram. This famous idol is carved out of a large Senthooram Stone which was considered very precious in ancient times. The temple here enshrines the statues of Rama, Laxman and Sita. There is a floating stone in the temple which is believed to have been used during Sethu Bandhanam as mentioned in the Ramayana.
Agnitheertham is a sacred water body, which lies just 100 metres away from the very famous Ramanathaswamy Temple. This is the place where Lord Rama worshipped Lord Shiva, to cleanse away the sins after killing the Ravana. This is one of the 64 sacred baths in Rameswaram , Every day thousands of pilgrims took bath in this holy sea. The Agnitheertham, are a collection of 22 such spots at the shores which the pilgrims bath in. according to Hindu mythology Lord Ram took a bath at the shores to absolve him from the sin of the killings in the war against Ravana.
Jada Tirtham :
Around 3.5km from Ramanathaswamy Temple, on the way to Dhanushkodi Village, Jada Tirtham is known among the Hindu devotees for the sacred pond. After killing Ravana, Lord Rama visited this place and installed Sri Rama lingam in the temple. Before installing the lingam, Lord Rama washed his Jada (hair) with water in this temple to purify himself from the sins. It is basically a water tank that is surrounded by trees from all sides. Jada Theertham temple is a small temple, located within the Kaveri Tirtham. The Kaveri Theertham is the only place in India where Lord Kapardishvara is worshipped. It is also believed that Jatayu, the king of birds, who fought with Ravana, fell down in this theertham after he was killed by the latter.
Dhanushkodi is a small town situated near the holy town of Rameshwaram. This small town lies along the eastern coast of the state of Tamil Nadu and is situated south-east of Pamban. A famous picnic spot on the island, Dhanushkodi is also an important pilgrim spot. This place is popular for its two attractions, namely the Dhanushkodi Beach and Dhanushkodi Temple, which attract people from places near and far. The name Dhanushkodi literally means the end of the bow and is spot where Lord Ram built the famous bridge with floating stones. Lined with shallow beaches, historical remnants and vast horizons of azure sea, this South Indian tourist spot is a must-see in Rameshwaram. Today’s Dhanushkodi Temple is nothing but a ruin of the temple described in different versions of the Ramayana. In case you are curious enough to discover the plot of Ram Sethu, do not forget to explore Dhanushkodi.
Gandhamadhana Parvatham :
Gandhamathana Parvatham is a small hill, located 3 km north of the Ramanathswamy Temple. Gandamadana Parvatham is considered to house a foot print of Lord Rama on a Chakra. The hill lies at an amazing location and one can get the panoramic views of the entire island from this point. It is Gandhamadana Parvatham which was carried by Lord Hanuman on his shoulders. It is famous for its beautiful sunrise and sunset. It is a holy place for the pilgrims. On their way to Gandhamadana Parvatam, tourists can visit Sugreevar Temple and Theertham. It is even considered the highest point of the island of Rameswaram. Tourists can hire taxi or take a tourist coach from the nearest city of Madurai to reach this point.
Adam’s Bridge :
Adam’s Bridge or Rama Setu is a debatable historic bridge that connects Rameshwaram island of India to the north-western coast of Sri Lanka. It is popularly believed that this bridge was constructed by Lord Rama, with the help of Hanuman and his Sena, for rescuing his wife Sita from Ravana. This bridge got its name from an Islamic legend, who said that Adam used this bridge to reach ‘Adam’s Peak’ in Sri Lanka. The bridge is a network of limestone shoals that start from Dhanuskodi, the tip of India’s Pamban Island, which in turn is connected to the Indian mainland by a 2 km long bridge. Always a topic of hot debate among historians and archeologists, the bridge is among the most preferred tourist places in rameshwaram.
Water Bird Sanctuary :
Rameshwaram isn’t solely a religious spot. For all visitors who wish to explore something other than the temples, they can go to the Water Bird Sanctuary that is home to a lot of native as well as migratory water birds. There are around 500 water tanks in the region, due to which birds flock here in huge numbers. Most of the water tanks are happy hunting grounds for water birds, during the monsoon season. Between October and January, the sanctuary turns into a battalion of migratory birds who flock here to breed and feed their offsprings. The best thing is you can see a lot of native as well as migratory water birds in this sanctuary. It is during the months of October to January when flocks of migratory birds fly to this land for breeding and feeding their off springs. The bird sanctuary is located in Ramanathapuram District and indeed one of the most popular tourist places in Rameshwaram.
Best time to visit :
The best time to visit Rameshwaram will be from October to April, when the weather is pleasant enough with temperature ranging from 17°C to 32°C for you to enjoy sightseeing and other outdoor activities. During the summer months, from March to June, you can experience moderately hot temperature with temperature varying a minimum of 25°C to a maximum of 38°C. Rameshwaram experiences an average temperature of 35°C. avoid visiting in the rainy season between July and September, as it tends to get humid thus making it difficult to enjoy sightseeing or outdoor activities.
How To Reach :
By Air : The nearest airports from Rameshwaram is Madurai Airport 167 km) and Tuticorin Airport (TCR). Cabs are available for hire from the airport to reach Rameshwaram. Which is well connected to all major city
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.
By Road : A bus journey to Rameswaram is quite comfortable and safe. Daily bus services by the Tamil Nadu State Transport Corporation (TNSTC) have routes to nearby cities like Kanyakumari, Thiruvallur, Pondicherry, Trichy and Chennai. You can choose from a regular, semi-deluxe or a deluxe coach.
Image Copyright by flickr.com, commons.wikimidia.org, hi.wikipedia.org