Rameswaram is an island of Lord Shiva`s temple which was worshiped by Rama. Along with being a major pilgrimage for the Hindus, Rameswaram is a happening holiday spot too. Rameswaram is significant for the Hindus as a pilgrimage to Banaras is incomplete without a Pilgrimage to Rameswaram.
The presiding deity is the Linga Of Sri Ramanatha Swamy, which happens to be one of the twelve Jyotirlingas of India. Rameswaram is also popularly referred to as the ‘Banaras of the south’. In order to attain Moksha it is believed that the visit to Rameswaram is mandatory.
According to the Hindu mythology i.e. the story of Ramayana Lord Rama performed thanks giving rituals to Lord Rama after the battle at Sri Lanka and his triumph over the demon king Ravana. Owing to this Rameswaram attracts Vaishnavites (worshipers of Lord Vishnu) and Saivites (worshiper of Lord Shiva) alike. Sri Lanka is at a distance of 24 kilometers from Rameswaram. In fact the entire area of Rameswaram is associated with various incidents from the Ramayana. Rameswaram happens to one of the most visited pilgrim sites in India.
The religious island is spread in an area of 61.8 square kilometers and happens to be in the shape of a conch. The Ramanatha Swamy Temple occupies major area of Rameswaram. The masterpiece of Dravidian architecture boasts of the largest temple corridor in India. Different rulers built the Ramanatha Swamy Temple over a period of time starting from the 12th century. The temple comprises of twenty-two wells where – it is only 21 wells and agni thertham which is a sea. The taste of the water of each well is different from the other. The waters of the wells are believed to possess medicinal properties. You may join the various festivities at the Ramanatha Swamy Temple of Rameswaram like Thai Amavasai, Masi Sivarathiri, Thirukalyanam and Mahalaya Amavasai.
At a stone throw away from the Ramanatha Swamy Temple is Agnitriham. The sacredness of the place makes it a popular bathing spot with the pilgrims. Ideally a bath at Agnitriham precedes the visit to the Ramanatha Swamy Temple.
The imprint of Lord Rama’s feet is placed on a chakra in the Ramjharoka temple at the highest point of the Island of Rameswaram this makes Gandamadana Parvatham a major tourist attraction. The highest point happens to be at a distance of five kilometers from Rameswaram town. Owing to its height Gandamadana Parvatham offers an excellent view of the Ramanatha Swamy Temple and the beautiful blue waters of the sea. The entire Rameswaram is dotted with temples in honor of Rama, Sita, Lakshmana and Hanuman.
Down south the island of Rameswaram is Dhanushkodi. The place derives its name from the dhanush or bow of Lord Rama and is believed to have been the starting point of the bridge that was built by the monkey forces of Lord Rama to access Sri Lanka. Dhanushkodi is at a distance of two kilometers from the Railway Station and is easily accessible by road from any part of Rameswaram.
Though much was lost in the cyclone that hit Rameswaram in 1964 the temple of shri Kothandaramaswamy was undamaged. The spot has a history of its won. It is believed that at shri Kothandaramaswamy temple the brother of demon king Ravana namely Vibhishana surrendered himself to Lord Rama and expressed his regret about the abduction of goddess Sita. The shri Kothandaramaswamy temple has images of Lord Rama, brother Lakshmana, wife Sita, Hanuman and a remorseful Vibhishana.
For the nature lovers the island of Rameswaram is a true heaven on Earth. There are captivating coral reefs that can just not be missed. The setting of the holiday at Rameswaram is picture perfect with the ever so charming combination of sun, sand and sea. The golden glowing sands, the coconut canopies, the tantalizing tamarind and the odai trees add to the beauty of nature. The gorgeous greens attract several tourists and are an ultimate spot for picnics and excursions at Rameswaram. Even though a small island in the Gulf of Mannar Rameswaram is a rejuvenating experience in itself. For some fun and frolic you may even just chill out in the area and collect some starfish and corals!
In between the mainland and the island in the west lies the Kurusadai Island. The biologists and the researchers throng the island. Kurusadai is just 20 kilometers away from Rameswaram. You may contact the Fisheries Department and plan your visit to the Kurusadai island.
Villoondi theertham is a famous tourist attraction in Rameshwaram . It is one of the beaches and also one of the 64 theerthas (sacred water body) in Rameswaram. It is situated 6 Km far from Rameswaram main bus stand. Villoondi theertham beach is a calm place with the silent tides. There is a good water spring situated inside the sea ,it is the main attraction of this place. (Sometimes sea water mixed with that spring water and makes it saline).
PLACES AROUND RAMESWARAM
At a distance of 75 kilometers from Rameswaram is Erwadi. Erwadi is renowned for the tomb of saint Ibrahim Syed Aulia. 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.
While at Rameswaram an amazing array of handicraft items are available that make excellent gift items and souvenirs. Articles made from palm leaf, beads and seashells are popular and make excellent bargains.
People and life
Tourism and fishery employs the major source of income among Rameswaram residents .Being an island fishing is the traditional occupation of the people. Rameswaram is one of the important fishing centers of Tamil Nadu. Fishing, collection of seashells, exporting sea foods, tourism, restaurants, Hotels, prohitham (Hindu religion’s holistic rituals), sea shell, pearl, conchs , marts are the main occupations of the Rameswaram people.
The soil of rameswaram is not suitable for agriculture, however in some lands around the island people cultivate vegetables, Coconut , palm and tamarind trees. Coconut and palm trees are the main vegetation of this island. Palm leaf baskets, idols made up of coconut , fiber bags made out of coconut and palm fibers are crafted by rameswaram people.
TRAVELLING TO RAMESWARAM
BY AIR – The religious land of Rameswaram is well connected with the other major cities of India. The nearest airport at Madurai is 180 kilometers away, takes care of the air travel of people from across the globe.
BY RAIL & ROAD – The rail and road network connects Rameswaram with Chennai, Madurai, Coimbatore, Trichy, Thanjavur, Varanasi , Okha, Thirupathi and other important cities. The two kilometer long Indira Gandhi Bridge connects the island of Rameswaram with the mainland of Mandapam. For traveling in town you may opt for hiring jeeps, auto rickshaws and even cycle rickshaws.