The Rameshwaram Temple is one of the most famous Hindu shrines in the country. It is tucked away at the tip of the Indian isthmus on the Pamban Island. This holy place is an important pilgrimage site as it happens to be one of the twelve 'Jyotirlingas'. The shrine comprises of a main deity in the shape of a 'linga' called Sri Ramanatha Swamy, which a confluence of Vaishnavism and Shiaivism. The highlights of the temple are its magnificent sculptures that have been carved from stone which are nothing short masterpieces. Spread across 15 acres, this place of worship is said to be a representation of the different architectural styles belonging to various kingdoms that have supported it. Another thing that the temple is well-known for is its natural spring water also referred as 'theerthams'. It is believed that a dip in this natural holy water is a must if one wants to be removed of sins and worldly sufferings. Read the sections below to know more about this popular Hindu temple.
An old mythological anecdote cites that Rameshwaram is as old as the epic saga, Ramayana. It all began when Lord Rama decided to invaded Lanka and destroy the demon, Ravana. He stopped over at Rameshwaram to quench his thirst at the sea shore. But, he was instantly asserted by a voice from the sky for not praying before drinking the water. It was then that Rama made a 'lingam' to represent Lord Shiva and sought his blessings to annihilate the demon. Lord Shiva offered his divine consent and was later requested by Lord Rama to manifest himself within the sand idol. Since then, the temple has become an important shrine for both Vaishnavism and Shiaivism.
According to the religious text, the Puranas, Lord Rama was asked by a sage to establish a 'shivalinga' to be free from the sins of killing Ravana, the son of a Brahmin. Lord Anjaneya was sent away to bring a lingam from Kailas mountains but did not return on time. So, Sita made the lingam with sand and installed the 'ramalinga'. On his return from the mountains, Anjaneya was disappointed. Hence, Lord Rama ordered that the 'visvalingam' that Anjaneya bought back should also be set up.
According to historians, the outer shell of the temple traces back to the 12th century. The shrine was poorly protected by a hovel first and later, Parakrama Bahu, the King of Sri Lanka attempted in building a sturdier structure around the idol. This was completed by the Setupathy rulers who belong to Ramanathapuram.
The Rameshwaram Temple is the major attraction of this place, but apart from this, there are 22 other theerthams within the vicinity of the temple. The natural spring waters are considered sacred by the local people. According to belief, a person who bathes in these spring waters is considered free from sins and disease.
The Rameshwaram Temple is spread across a magnificent 15 acres of land and surrounded by an ancient style of architecture that reflects on the various kingdoms who patronized the temple. The gopurams are located in a 4000ft long passage with intricately carved sculptured pillars that are considered the highlight of the place. The embellishments speak of the Pallava, Travancore, Ramanathapuram, Mysore and Pudukkottai Kingdom influences.
The best time to visit this temple is during the celebrations of Bhrammotsavams. The shrine comes alive with religious tourists and the festivity of the place. Typically, the best time to come to the Rameshwaram Temple is in June or July.
How to Get There
Every year, the city has thousands of Hindu devotees flocking to the city to seek the blessings from the Gods. You can reach Rameshwaram by air, rail and road.
This pilgrimage spot does not have an airport of its own but the closest is located in Madurai, which is 163 km away from the city. Once you arrive there, you could make use of the public and private taxi services offered in the city.
The trains connecting the city are innumerable. Regular trains commute from Rameshawarm to Chennai, Madurai, Coimbatore, Trichy and Thanjavur.
Being a popular place of worship, the city has a good infrastructure in terms of roads that connect to other cities in the southern parts of the sub-continent. Madurai, Kanyakumari, Chennai, Trichy, Pondicherry and Thanjavur are some of the closest cities from where you can reach Rameshwaram.
The Rameshawarm Temple is said to be the only religious destination in the country that is an important centre for both Vaishnavism and Shiaivism devotees. It is also known as the 'Banaras of the South'.