31 Oct 2013

Rameshwaram: The Most Mystical and Spiritual Land in South India

Located at the peak of South India is the sacred town of Rameshwaram, part of Ramanathapuram district in Tamil Nadu. This town is situated on the Pamban Island, in the Gulf of Mannar, at the tip of India and is closest to the Mannar Island of Sri Lanka. It is popular for its divine atmosphere and is held sacred by Hindus all over India. A part of the Char Dham pilgrimage, it is the most famous religious destination in South India. It is connected to the mainland through the Pamban Bridge.   

Steeped in cultural heritage, Rameshwaram witnesses thousands of devout Hindus who visit the place every year for its popular destinations like the Ramanathaswamy Temple, Theerthas or the holy water bodies in and around the town, Dhanushkodi and the GandhamathanaParvatham. Its strategic location at the confluence of three massive water bodies or the trivenisangam of the Indian Ocean, Bay of Bengal and the Arabian Sea, makes it one of the holiest spots in India. This is why most tourists and pilgrims take a dip near the Rameshwaram shore and perform religious rituals.

The divinity of this coastal town dates back to ancient Hindu mythology, according to which Rama built a bridge, from Rameshwaram to Lanka, across the sea to rescue his wife, Sita from the demonic Ravana. Rameshwaram is closely associated with Rama, who had prayed to Lord Shiva to forgive him for any sins committed during his war against Ravana.

Lord Shiva is the foremost deity of the Ramanathaswamy Temple, located in the heart of the town. Built exquisitely by the Pandya Dynasty in the 12th century, it is one of the Jyotirlinga shrines which means “pillar of light”.Lord shiva is worshipped in these. It is also interesting to note that the temple is well known for its corridor of 1000 pillars, each of them strong and majestic, sculpted in the Nayak style.

Other temples of the town include the Ramarpatham Temple on the GandhamathanaParvatham. The imprint of Rama’s feet is seen on the chakra or the wheel, fitting appropriately to the name.  Kothandaramaswamy Temple is located on the Dhanushkodiisland and is dedicated to Lord Rama.

Fishing, boating and sightseeing are common activities in this spiritual town. Sightseeing is especially common during winters, from November to February where as pilgrims prefer summers to visit temples, between March and June. Madurai flights connect Rameshwaram to Mumbai, Bangalore, Chennai, Kochi etc. It is less than 200 kilometers from Rameshwaram and is the most popular means of contact with the mainland.