This Post is in continuation with earlier Post – Madurai – Meenakshi Temple.
We boarded a Passenger Train from Madurain, which took 4 hours to reach Rameshwaram. There are buses every 30 minutes from Madurai to Ramehswaram, but our main interest to travel by Train was to experience the Journey on Famous Pamban Bridge.
Pamban Bridge is an engineering marvel that evokes awe! Few can forget a train journey on the Pamban Bridge, connecting Rameswaram Island to the mainland. With 143 piers, spanning 2 km between the mainland and the island, it is the second longest sea bridge in India after the 2.3-km Bandra-Worli sea link on Mumbai’s western coast. The Central Part of the Bridge is designed to open up for Ferry Movement. On an average, 10 to 15 boats and small ships pass beneath the bridge every month. The Pamban Bridge was the only link between Rameswaram and the mainland until 1988 when a road bridge, running parallel to it, was built. Earlier, it used to transport hundreds of pilgrims every day to the temple in the island.
The train journey was comfortable and not very crowded. It was one-of-its-kind experience. We checked into the TTDC-Tamilnadu Resort (Pre-booked through their website), which is just next to the Beach and walkable distance from the Main temple. The Resort is good and Food is fine there. The view of sea is excellent.
Being a Sea-Coast and Mid-Summer time, the climate was very humid and hot. After getting refreshed, we walked to the temple.
One of the twelve Jyotirlinga Temples dedicated to Lord Shiva, the temple of Ramanathaswamy is an architectural excellence built in the 17th century. The actual temple is believed to have been built by Lord Rama himself and thus it has gained an esteemed position in Indian mythological reference. A walk through the temples of Rameshwaram takes you to the days of the Ramayana and you would find enough evidences that will only reinforce your belief that there was once a man called Rama who walked on earth. Today’s Ramanathaswamy Temple houses the longest temple corridor in the world, which is 197 meters long and 133 meters broad and stands with 1200 massive granite columns. There are 22 Wells inside the Temple, and the devotees can take a separate pass to access these 22 wells or tirth. The Special-pass holders are taken to each of the 22 tirth and water from each tirth is poured on them. I and Hubby preferred to stay away from this, but In-Laws were interested to perform this holy-bath and visited the temple early morning next day for it.
Though the main attraction of this temple town is the great Ramanathaswamy Temple, one of the Char Dhams in India, yet its relatively clean sea beaches, lesser crowded temples and sacred ponds give another reason to the avid travellers to add Rameshwaram to their bucket list.
We booked an Auto-Rickshaw and visited the following places on our 2nd day in Rameshwaram:
Jada Tirtham: It is believed that when Rama was about to worship Shiva Lingam in Rameshwaram after killing Ravana, he washed his Jata (matted hair) in Jada Tirtham. There is a temple next to the pond of Jada Tirtham. Jada Tirtham is believed to be the only place in India where Lord Kapardisvara is worshipped.
Gandhamadhana Parvatham: Remember the mountain mentioned in the Ramayana from where Hanuman was about to fetch the medicinal herbs to save Laxman. Yes! It is Gandhamadana Parvatham which was carried by Lord Hanuman on his shoulders. This utterly pious and quaint religious spot is 3 km away from the centre of the town. A double storied temple of Lord Rama houses the imprints of his feet on a chakra. It is also considered to be the highest point in Rameshwaram, so you can have a birds’ eye view of the whole island from the peak.
Five Faced Hanuman Temple: 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. The statue of Lord Hanuman is smeared with shendoor and worshipped with utmost devotion. 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.
Rama Setu: Rama Setu is a debatable historic bridge that connects Rameshwaram island of India to the north-western coast of Sri Lanka. It is a chain of limestone shoals starts from Dhanushkodi tip of India’s Pamban Island. Pamban Island is connected to mainland India by a 2 km long bridge.
Kothandaramaswamy Temple: An approximately 500 year old temple located at the southernmost tip of this island, Kothandaramaswamy Temple is yet another pilgrimage destination in Rameshwaram. The temple is very close to the sea and appears as an ideal place to trace the footprints of Rama. The temple here has the idols of Rama, Sita and Laxman along with Vibhishan. It is believed that Rama did the last rites of Pattabhishekam of Vibhishan in this place. The temple walls are scribled with the paintings depicting the same story.
Lakshmana Tirtham: A sacred pond dug near the temple of Laxmana, Lakshmana Tirtham is a divine place close to Ramanathswamy Temple. The temple of Laxmana contains several instances of Ramayana engraved on its walls. People coming to the temple for a visit often go for taking a dip in this pond.
Villoondi Tirtham: Literally meaning the burried bow, Villondi Tirtham is a quaint religious destination where Lord Rama dipped his bow into the seawater to quench his consort Sita’s thirst. It is said that before burying the bow here Lord Rama shot an arrow into earth from where a stream of sweet water emerged to quench Sita’s thirst. There is a temple of Ekantha Ramar which is constructed on the same place where Lord Rama took rest before launching attack on Lanka.
Jatayu Tirtham Temple: The very name of the temple is enough to tell you about the significance of this shrine. It is a memorial sort of construction which was built in memory of the great loyal eagle of Ramayana called Jatayu who informed Rama about Ravana’s misdeeds and abduction of Sita. He sacrificed his life while fighting with Ravana to save Sita.
Apart from these major attractions, Rameshwaram encloses several lesser known destinations that you can add to your day outing list. Attractions like Saatchi Hanuman Temple, Agnitheertham are not to be missed as they are considered highly pious in Rameshwaram.