Rameshwaram is the most revered Hindu Pilgrimage destination in South India. The most sacred pilgrimage for Hindus is not complete without worshipping at Rameswaram temple and ritual bath at Dhanushkodi.
The importance of Rameshwaram can be judged from the simple fact that there are sixty-four Tirthas or Theerthams (holy water bodies) in and around Rameswaram. According to the Skanda Purana, twenty-four of them are most important.Bathing in these tanks is a major aspect of the pilgrimage to Rameswaram and is considered equivalent to penance. Twenty-two of the tanks are within the Famous Ramanathaswamy Temple.
The foremost one is called Agni Theertham, the sea (Bay of Bengal). Jatayu, King of the Birds, who fought in vain with the demon-king Ravana to save Sita, is said to have fallen down at Jadayu Theertham as his wings were severed.Villoondi Theertham literally translates to 'buried bow', is located around 7 kilometres from the main temple on the way to Pamban.It is believed to be the place where Rama quenched the thirst of Sita by dipping the bow into the sea water.Other major holy bodies are Hanuman Theertham, Sugreeva Theertham and Lakshmana Theertham.
Rameshwaram is famous for the Ramanathaswamy Temple is the most Sacred & Iconic Temple ( Home of Char Dham & Jyotirlinga). Temple is Located in the centre of town, Ramanathaswamy Temple is dedicated to the god Shiva and is one of the 12 Jyotirlinga in India, It is also one of the 275 Paadal Petra Sthalam temples and is glorified in hymns by the three of the most revered Nayanar saints (7th century Saivite saints), Appar, Sundarar and Tirugnana Sambandar.
Rameswaram is significant for many Hindus as it is part of Auspicious Char Dham (Ramanathaswamy temple) is one of the holiest Hindu Char Dham (four divine sites) sites includingg Badrinath, Puri and Dwarka.
The best period to visit Rameshwaram is between October and April.
Rameshwaram is accessible by air, railways and roadways. It is well connected by rail with cities like Chennai, Coimbatore, Thanjavur and Trichy. The nearest airport is in Madurai, 163 km from here.
The four monasteries are located across the four corners of India and their attendant temples are Badrinath Temple at Badrinath in the North, Jagannath Temple at Puri in the East, Dwarakadheesh Temple at Dwarka in the West and Ramanathaswamy Temple at Rameswaram in the South. The Char Dham journey across the four char dhams in India is considered sacred by Hindus who aspire to visit these temples once in their lifetime. Traditionally the trip starts at the eastern end from Puri.
The temple in its current structure was built during the 12th century by Pandya Dynasty. The temple is famous for longest corridor among all Hindu temples in India. The breadth of these columned corridors varies from 17 to 21 feet with a height of 25 feet. Each pillar is sculpted in Nayak style as in Madurai Meenakshi Amman Temple.
There are 22 wells here around the temple and water from each well has a different taste. The water here is believed to have medicinal properties.
According to a legend, Ramayana, Rama, the seventh incarnation of God Vishnu, is believed to have prayed to God Shiva here to absolve any sins that he might have committed during his war against the demon king Ravana in Sri Lanka.To worship God Shiva,God Rama wanted to have the largest lingam. He directed Lord Hanuman, the monkey lieutenant in his army to bring the lingam from Himalayas. Since it took longer to bring the lingam, Sita (the wife of Rama) built a small lingam, which is believed to be the lingam in the sanctum Sanctorum.
The primary deity of the temple is Ramanathaswamy (Shiva) in the form of lingam.There are two lingams inside the sanctum - one built by Goddess Sita, from sand, residing as the main deity, Ramalingam and the one brought by Lord Hanuman from Kailash called Vishwalingam. Lord Rama instructed that Vishwalingam should be worshipped first since it was brought by Lord Hanuman - the tradition continue even today.
The outer set of corridors is reputed to be the longest in the world being about 6.9 m height, 400 feet in each in the east and west and about 640 feet in north and south and inner corridors are about 224 feet in east and west and about 352 feet each in north and south.Their width varies from 15.5 feet to 17 feet in the east and west about 172 feet on the north and south with width varying 14.5 feet to 17 feet.The total length of those corridors is thus 3850 feet. There are about 1212 pillars in the outer corridor.Their height is about 30 feet from the floor to the center of the roof. The main tower or rajagopuram is 53 m tall.Most pillars are carved with individual composition.
The temple is one of the holiest Hindu Char Dham (four divine sites) sites comprising Badrinath, Puri and Dwarka.Though the origins are not clearly known, the Advaita school of Hinduism established by Sankaracharya, who created Hindu monastic institutions across India, attributes the origin of Char Dham to the seer.The four monasteries lie across the four corners of India and temples are Badrinath Temple at Badrinath in the North, Jagannath Temple at Puri in the East, Dwarakadheesh Temple at Dwarka in the West and Ramanathaswamy Temple at Rameswaram in the South.
There are also four abodes in Himalayas called Chota Char Dham (Chota meaning small): Badrinath, Kedarnath, Gangotri and Yamunotri - all of these lie at the foot hills of Himalayas.The name Chota was added during the mid of 20th century to differentiate the original Char Dhams. The journey across the four cardinal points in India is considered sacred by Hindus who aspire to visit these temples once in their lifetime.Traditionally the trip starts at the eastern end from Puri, proceeding in clockwise direction in a manner typically followed for circuambulation in Hindu temples.
As per Shiv Mahapuran, once Brahma (the Hindu God of creation) and Vishnu (the Hindu God of saving) had an argument in terms of supremacy of creation.To test them, Shiva pierced the three worlds as a huge endless pillar of light, the jyotirlinga. Vishnu and Brahma split their ways to downwards and upwards respectively to find the end of the light in either directions. Brahma lied that he found out the end, while Vishnu conceded his defeat. Shiva appeared as a second pillar of light and cursed Brahma that he would have no place in ceremonies while Vishnu would be worshipped till the end of eternity. The jyotirlinga is the supreme partless reality, out of which Shiva partly appears. The jyothirlinga shrines, thus are places where Shiva appeared as a fiery column of light.Originally there were believed to be 64 jyothirlingas while 12 of them are considered to be very auspicious and holy.
Each of the twelve jyothirlinga sites take the name of the presiding deity - each considered different manifestation of Shiva.At all these sites, the primary image is lingam representing the beginningless and endless Stambha pillar, symbolizing the infinite nature of Shiva.
The twelve jyothirlinga are as below
Gandhamathan Parvatham, a hillock situated 3 km to the north of the temple is the highest point in the island.66 There is a two storeyed hall, where Rama's feet is found as an imprint on a chakra (wheel).66 The Ramarpatham Temple is located on the hillock.66
Dhanushkodi is the southernmost tip of the island and houses the Kothandaramaswamy Temple dedicated to Rama.Though Dhanushkodi was washed away during the 1964 cyclone, the temple alone remained intact through divine intervention It is 18 km way from the centre of the town and can be reached by road. A popular belief is that, Dhanushkodi is where Vibishana, a brother of Ravana surrendered before Rama in the epic Ramayana.
The Hindu scripture Ramayana says that Lord Rama built a bridge or causeway, called Ram Setu or Rama's bridge, between the mainland and Sri Lanka, in order to bring his army across. After Rama won the war and crowned a new king of Lanka, Vibhishana, Vibihishana requested Rama to destroy the bridge. Rama broke the bridge with one end of his bow. Hence, the name Dhanushkodi or "end of the bow" (dhanush meaning bow and kodi meaning end). It is also said that Rama originally marked the spot for the bridge with one end of his famous bow. The series of rocks and islets currently found in a line between India and Sri Lanka suggests there was indeed a former land connection between India and Sri Lanka.
Dhanushkodi is the sacred confluence of the Bay of Bengal and the Indian Ocean, Hindu pilgrims bathe in the ocean here before completing the pilgrimage to Rameswaram. In addition, it is said that pilgrimage to the holy city of Kashi in North India is not complete without also worshipping at Rameswaram, including the ritual bath at Dhanushkodi.
At Dhanushkodi one can see the deep and rough waters of Indian Ocean meeting the shallow and calm waters of Bay of Bengal. Since the sea is shallow here, one can walk into Bay of Bengal and witness the colourful corals, fishes, seaweeds, star fishes and sea cucumber etc. However one is forewarned from venturing into Indian Ocean as it is extremely violent.
There are several temples associated with Lord Rama around Rameswaram. It is advisable to visit Dhanushkodi in groups during the day and return to Rameswaram before sunset as the entire 15 km stretch is very lonely and scary but mystical.Since there is no electricity and means of communications between the Rameshwaram island and Dhanushkodi, it is not recommended to stay there after sun is down. Plus taxis do not ply on the stretch after sundown.
At present, on an average, about 500 pilgrims visit Dhanushkodi daily and the number goes up by thousands during festival days, such as new and full moon days. Regular bus facility is available only up to a certain distance from Rameswaram via Kodhanda Ram Kovil (Temple) and many pilgrims who wish to perform religious rites at Dhanushkodi have to depend on private vans who charge anything between Rs80 and 100 per passenger depending upon the number of passengers and type of vehicle.
Following the public demand of pilgrims who visit Rameswaram from all over the country, in 2003, Southern Railway sent a project report to Ministry of Railways for re-laying a 16 km new railway line to Dhanushkodi from Rameswaram. The planning commission was asked to look into the possibility of a new railway line between Dhanushkodi and Rameswaram instead of the earlier alignment from Pamban once again in 2010.
At the "land's end" terminus of the peninsula to the southeast of Dhanushkodi, known as Arichumunai or erosion point, begins the chain of rocks and islets known as Rama's Bridge. These lead approximately 19 miles across the Palk Strait to Mannar Island on the northwestern tip of Sri Lanka.
Adam's Bridge OR Rama's Bridge OR Rama Setu between Pamban Island, also known as Rameswaram Island is a former land connection between India and Sri Lanka. The bridge is 18 miles (30 km) long and separates the Gulf of Mannar (southwest) from the Palk Strait (northeast). Rama Setu or Adam's Bridge starts as chain of shoals from the Dhanushkodi tip of India's Pamban Island and ends at Sri Lanka's Mannar Island. Pamban Island is semi-connected to the Indian mainland by 2 km long Pamban Bridge. Mannar Island is connected to mainland Sri Lanka by a causeway. The border between India and Sri Lanka is said to pass across one of the shoals constituting one of the shortest land borders in the world.Adam's bridge and neighbouring areas like Rameswaram, Dhanushkodi, Devipattinam and Thirupullani are mentioned in the context of various legends in Ramayana.Some of the sandbanks are dry and the sea in the area is very shallow, being only 3 ft to 30 ft (1 m to 10 m) deep in places. It was reportedly passable on foot up to the 15th century until storms deepened the channel: temple records seem to say that Rama’s Bridge was completely above sea level until it broke in a cyclone in AD 1480.
According to Abrahamic myth, Adam used the bridge to reach a mountain (identified with Adam's Peak) in Sri Lanka, where he stood repentant on one foot for 1,000 years, leaving a large hollow mark resembling a footprint.
The bridge was first mentioned in Holy Ramayana, It refers building of this bridge by Rama in verse 2-22-76, naming it as Setubandhanam, a name that persists until today.that the bridge was built by the Vanara (ape men), The army of Lord Rama to reach Lanka and rescue his wife Sita from the Rakshasa king, Ravana.
Connects Pamban Island with the Indian mainland was constructed in 1914
Pamban Island (Tamil Nadu, India) with its small port of Rameswaram is about 2 km from mainland India. The Pamban Bridge crossing the Pamban channel links Pamban Island with mainland India. It refers to both: a road bridge and a cantilever railway bridge. Small boats would go below the 2065 m long road bridge and the railway bridge would open up.
Typical Yatra Tour package Itinarary for Rameshwaram includes visiting Rameshwaram, Dhanushkodi, Madurai, Kanyakumari.To know about the typical tour package for rameshwaram, click here Typical Tour package for Rameshwaram+