One of the 12 jyotirlingas of the country, Rameshwaram is one of the most sacred pilgrimages. Located at a distance from 570 km from Chennai, Rameshwaram is a small island. This sacred island is connected to the mainland at Mandapam via Pamban Bridge. It is one of the Char Dhams that every Hindu devotees dream of visiting to seek divine blessings. Other three are Puri in the East, Dwaraka in the West and Badrinath in the Northern part of the country. Rameshwaram is dedicated to Lord Shiva while the other three shrines are dedicated to Lord Vishnu. Along with visit to a popular shrine, a tour to Rameshwaram offers you with equally captivating scenic beauty and historical background.
Also considered as a Parihara Sthala, Rameshwaram is believed to the place where devotees can be liberated of their past sins. A dip in the holy waters of theertham such as Sethu Theertham, Agni Theertham and others is said to absolve all the sins. This place has immense religious significance and has been mentioned in sacred Hindu scriptures vedas as well. A tour to the holy town of Rameshwaram presents visitors not only spiritual surroundings as well as breathtaking scenic beauty.
In various sacred Hindu texts such as vedas and all the Puranas, there are mentions of this place, depicting the piousness of Rameshwaram. Ancient literary works in Sanskrit and Tamil also contains description about this place and its religious associations. many great saints Appar, Sundarar, Sambandar and Manickavasagar have sun songs on the holiness of this place and Lord Rama. The religious importance of Rameshwaram is unparalleled, every particle of this land is considered pious by all the Hindus devotees throughout the world. Considered to be the Varanasi of South, it is commonly believed that a trip to the pilgrimage Kashi is incomplete without a visit to Rameshwaram, making Rameshwaram tour a must for every devotee.
This holy town of Rameshwaram has many legend associated with it. According to the popular legend, it is the place where an incarnation of Lord Vishnu, Lord Rama had worshipped Lord Shiva. As per the legend, Lord Rama while returning from Lanka, after rescuing his wife Goddess Sita who was kidnapped by Demon Ravana, had chosen this place to atone his sins. As Lord Rama has killed the demon Ravana who was of Brahmin origin and a great devotee of Lord Shiva, he had decided to seek atonement by offering his prayers to Lord Shiva.For the purpose of pooja, Lord rama had asked Hanuman to get a lingam from Himalayas. However, due to the delay from Hanuman in bringing the lingam, Goddess Sita built a lingam herself. It is said that the same lingam is present in the Sri Ramanathaswamy Temple.
According to another legend, it was in rameshwaram where Lord Rama along with Lakshmana, Hanuman and others had built the bridge to Sri Lanka so as to rescue Goddess Sita from the capture of Demon Ravana.
This religious city of India, which is one of the char dhams, has seen reign of many dynasties as well. The dravidian architecture of the buildings here presents a captivating sight. Many dynasties including the Jaffna Kingdom, Pandyan kingdom, Khilji family of Delhi, Vijayanagara Dynasty, Nayak rule and East Indian Company had ruled this city and left traces of their reign in the form of various structures and the everyday lifestyles of residents. For instance, when Alauddin Khilji came to Rameshwaram Alia al-Din Khaldji mosque was built while it was during the Sethupathis rule, a huge amount was invested in the artistic development and beautification of Sri Ramanathaswamy Temple. It was also an important point for commerce too as it used to point for travelling to Sri Lanka, Ceylon.
Rameshwaram Tourism is not for only religious visit; along with many prominent shrine, its scenic beauty and architectural excellence of temples allures everyone. The most popular place to see in Rameshwaram is Sri Ramanathaswamy Temple. Its high religious significance along with marvelous structure captivates everyone. This temple has 22 holy theertham or wells. It is believed that bathing in all these 22 theertham along with a darshan of the Lord Ramanatha Swamy at the temple will free a person from his/her all the sins. Along with this temple, other ancient shrines in Rameshwaram are Kothandaramaswamy Temple, Agnitheertham, Dhanushkodi, Gandamadana Parvatham and many more. Ariyaman Beach, Pamban bridge and Adam’s Bridge or Rama Sethu are also worth visiting.
How to Reach Rameswaram?
Rameshwaram is well connected to the rest of the country via roadways and railways. However, if you are travelling by air, the nearest airport is the Madurai airport which is around 170 km away. From airport one can hire a cab and travel to rameshwaram.
Rameshwaram railway station is connected to many major cities such as Chennai, Madurai, Coimbatore,Trichy, Thanjavur, etc. There are also frequent buses to Rameshwaram from all the major cities of Tamil Nadu hence travelling by road is also one of the major mode of transportation here. For instance there are regular buses to Rameshwaram from Madurai which is 170 km away, Rameshwaram from Tiruchirappalli which is around 270 km away. From chennai it is at a distance of around 560 km.