Rameshwaram is one of the sacred towns of India. It is famous
all over the country for its temple corridor- the longest
in India, the Bathing Ghat, Ganthamathana Parvatham, Kothandaramar
temple, Kurusadai and other nearby islands - abundant with
coral reefs and other marine wonders. Hailed as Varanasi of
the south, Rameshwaram is must visit sacred spot for devout
Hindus. It is believed that people achieve their long cherished
dream after paying obeisance to the god Lord Shiva. Rameshwaram
known as the Varanasi of the south, Rameshwaram is a major
pilgrimage centre for both Shaivites and Vaishnavaites as
it was here that Rama ( an incarnation of Vishnu in the Indian
epic the Ramayana ) offered thanks to Siva. At the town's
core is the Ramanathaswamy Temple, one of the most important
temples in southern India. Rameshwaram is on an island in
the Gulf of Mannar, connected to the mainland at Mandapam
by rail and by one of India's engineering wonders, the Indira
Gandhi Bridge. The bridge took 14 years to build and was opened
by Rajiv Gandhi late in 1988. The town lies on the island's
eastern side and used to be the port from which the ferry
to Talaimannar ( Sri Lanka ) departed before passenger services
were suspended more than a decade ago. as a result, there
are now very few foreign visitors. Rameswaram is famous for
its 22 theerthas (or wells) that surround the main temple.
This place is of equal importance to Vaishnavites and Shaivites.
Besides temple Rameshwaram island has several places, which
are ideal picnic spot.
According to Hindu mythology, Lord Rama on his return from
Sri Lanka offered his thanks to Lord Shiva and performed worship
to wash away his sin in killing the monster king, Ravana.
Rameshwaram also is associated to the Ramayana as many incidents
can be related to the past. Many pilgrims throng Rameshwaram
every year. It is believed that the pilgrimage of Hindu is
not considered complete without visiting this sacred spot.
Sages say that Rameshwaram is also the place to attain Moksha.
An important site for Muslim pilgrims, Erwadi houses the tomb
of Ibrahim Sahid Aulia. At a distance of 24 kilometers from
Rameshwaram is Erwadi. Muslims from across the globe visit
Erwadi especially during the month of December to participate
in the annual festival celebrated as a tribute to the saint
It is believed that the boulders around the sea between Srilanka
and this place known as Adam's bridge were used by Hanuman
to reach across Srilanka. Dhanushkodi was completely destroyed
by the cyclones of 1964 but Kothandaramaswamy temple remained
intact. A leisurely drive along the Dhanushkodi road is a
pleasant experience. The clear sea, backwater edged with waving
bulrushes, surrounds the road. Stretches of virtually untouched
beach sparkle in the fading light and it is from here that
one gets spectacular view of the sunset. Towards the end of
the road a few transient settlements of fishermen can be seen
in the fishing season.
Ramnathswamy temple was built in the 17th century and spread
over an area of 15 acres , has lofty gopurams, massive walls
and a collossal Nandi. Rameswaram also boasts of a 4000 feet
long pillared corridor with over 4000 pillars, supposedly
the longest in the world. The carved granite pillars are mounted
on a raised platform. What is unique about this corridor is
that the rock is not indigenous to the island and it was brought
in from elsewhere in Tamilnadu across the sea. The eastern
Rajagopuram towers to a height of 126 feet and it has nine
levels. The Western Rajagopuram, though impressive is not
as tall as the Eastern one. The stuccoed image of Nandi is
about 18 feet tall and 22 feet in length. Six worship services
are carried out each day, the first being at 5am. Special
worship services are carried out every Friday.
Rama worshipped Shiva in the form of a Shiva Lingam made of
earth by Sita, while returning to Ayodhya. Legend has it that
Hanuman was entrusted with the task of bringing an image of
Viswanathar from Benares. Anticipating delay in Hanuman's
return from Benares, Rama is said to have offered worship
at a pre-chosen auspicious moment to a Shivalingam fashioned
out of earth by Sita. This lingam is referred to as Ramalingam
and the town is known as Rameswaram.