Rameswaram is a small island in the Gulf of Mannar, is a major pilgrim centre. It is connected to the mainland by road and railway bridges. Rameswaram is a holy place because Sri Rama, on his return from Sri Lanka, offered his thanks to Lord Shiva and performed pooja to wash away his sin in killing the Demon King, Ravana. Rameswaram is known for its 22 theerthas or wells in and around the main temple.
This place is equally sacred to both Vaishnavites and Shaivites. According to Hindu Mythology, if one visits Rameswaram and prays to Lord Shiva one will be relieved of one’s sins. It is 197 metres long.The Ramanathaswamy temple is renowned for its magnificent corridors and massive sculptured pillars. The third corridor of Ramanathaswamy temple is the longest one in the world.Besides pilgrimage, Rameswaram Island has several places, which are ideal picnic spots. There are beautiful beaches at Olaikuda, Dhanushkodi and Pamban. The Olaikuda beach is 1 km from the main temple and s engulfed by coral reefs, which makes bathing in the sea safe and enjoyable. With diving glasses and respiration tubes, scuba diving is safe and possible. Flamingos, sea gulls and a variety of birds migrate to the Rameswaram Island during winter.
Rameswaram is a main fishing centre of Tamil Nadu. Variety of fishes including export quality fish like prawns, sea cucumber, and lobster are available here. Rameswaram is also famous for its dry fish.
The famous Ramanathaswamy Temple is regarded as one of the most sacred shrines of Hindus in India. It is an honoured pilgrimage destination, which represents the southernmost of the 12 Jyotirlingams of India. It is considered as holy as Banaras. This famous Hindu temple situated on the Rameshwaram island is located off the Sethu coast of Tamil Nadu. The temple is noted for its close association with Ramayana and the legendary victory of Rama over the demon king Ravana.
This temple is a pious temple, keeping in mind its association with Lord Rama, a great Hindu legend and its grand structure. This huge temple on the island of Rameswaram can be reached via the Pamban bridge across the sea, it is famous for its long ornate corridors, towers and remarkable 36 Theerthams.
Legend Related To The Temple
According to a legend, Rama worshiped Shiva in the form of a Shiva Lingam, while returning to Ayodhya. This lingam was made of earth by Rama’s consort, Sita. It is also said that Hanuman was sent to bring an image of Viswanathar from Banaras. Rama thought that Hanuman will be late in returning. Therefore, Rama is said to have offered worship at a pre-chosen auspicious moment to the Shivalingam. This lingam is referred to as Ramalingam.
The other Shivlingam brought here by Hanuman from Banaras is known as Viswanathar . This Shivalingam is also called Kasilingam and Hanumalingam. The Viswanathar Shivalingam is worshiped before offering prayers to Ramanathaswamy. It is also believed that Rama worshiped Tilakeswarar at Devipatnam on the route to Sri Lanka.
The History of The Temple
The temple is sprawled over an area of 15 acres. It has huge gopurams, monolithic walls and a stupendous Nandi. There is a 4000 feet long pillar corridor with over 4000 pillars, considered the longest in the world. A unique feature about this corridor is that the rock used here is not found on the native island, it was brought in from elsewhere in Tamilnadu across the sea. The eastern Rajagopuram has a height of 126 feet and has nine levels whereas the western Rajagopuram is not as tall as the eastern one. The huge image of Nandi is about 18 feet tall and 22 feet in length.
The Gandamadana Parvatham
This hill on the Rameshwaram island, has a small shrine, consisting of imprints of Lord Rama’s feet, which is worshiped here. A worth visiting site.
There are almost 36 Theerthams here out of which 22 are in the temple. The water of these Theerthams are said to be therapeutic. A bath in these is regarded significant. The Agni Theertham refers to the ocean while the Koti theertham is located within the temple itself.
Ex-president of India, Dr. Abdul Kalam, hails from a fishing hamlet called Dhanushkodi situated on the island.