Rameshwaram, the holy town, is one of the prominent pilgrimages in India. Being one of the char dham and one among the 12 jyotirlinga Rameshwaram has high religious significance. It is an island that is connected to the mainland via Pamban Bridge. Along with ancient temples which are associated with Ramayana, there are also as many as 62 theerthams in and around the town. A Rameshwaram Tour presents spiritual aura, along with captivating scenic beauty that is accompanied by innumerable number of places to visit in Rameshwaram.
One of the 12 jyotirlinga, Sri Ramanathaswamy Temple is the place where Lord Rama is said to have worshipped Lord Shiva. It is known for its high religious importance, association with the Hindu sacred epic Ramayana and captivating architecture. According to the legend behind this temple, Lord Rama, after his war with demon Ravana who had kidnapped Goddess Sita, had worshipped Lord Shiva here. Lord Rama had offered prayers to Lord Shiva so as to atone his sin of killing Ravana who was a half Brahmin. The lingam on which Lord Rama offered prayers was created by Goddess Sita and the same lingam is there in the temple. However, there is one more lingam in the Sri Ramanathaswamy temple, known as Viswalingam or Hanumalingam, which was brought by Lord Hanuman from the Himalayas. This temple has 22 theertham as well. According to belief, bathing in these theertham can liberate a devotee from his or her sins.
One of the popular theertham in Rameshwaram, Agnitheertham is also associated with Lord Rama and Goddess Sita. According to the legend, after the Lanka war, lord Rama before praying to Lord Shiva as a penance had taken bath in this theertham. There is one more legend, according to which, it is here when Goddess Sita had entered the fire, when doubts were raised on her chastity as she had stayed in demon Ravana confinement. She was unhurt and Lord Angi appeared to prove the pureness of Goddess Sita. However, as he had touched Goddess, he prayed Lord Shiva to atone his sins. It is then he had taken bath here. Hence, it is believed that taking a dip in the holy waters of Agnitheertham relive devotees of their past sins.
Located at a distance of 2 km from Rameshwaram Temple, Panchamukhi Hanuman Temple is the five faced Hanuman Temple where Lord Hanuman had revealed his five faces. As per the legend, king of Patala Loka, Mahiravana in ordered to help demon Ravana, had kidnapped Goddess Sita, Lord Rama and Lord Lakshmana in the guise of Vibhishana. Whiel searching for them Lord Hanuman had reached the place where they were kept. However, to kill the demon, he was required to turn off five lamps at the same time which were kept in five directions. For this Lord took the form of Panchmukhi Hanuman with five faces of Lord Varaha, Lord Narasimha, Lord Garuda, Lord Hanuman and Lord Hayagriva.
At a distance of 2 km from Rameshwaram, Kothandaramaswamy Temple stands amid the vast spread of Bay of Bengal on one side and Gulf of Munnar on another. This ancient temple is said to be more than 1000 years old and had withstood even the cyclone of 1964. Swami Vivekananda has also visited this temple before his Chicago visit. This temple is a must visit for every Rameshwaram tour.
Also known as Rama Tirtham, Gandamadana Parvatham is the place where marks of Lord Rama feet can be found on a chakra. It is said that Lord Rama had rested here for a while during his search for Goddess Sita after she was abducted by demon Ravana. It is believed to be the first place where Lord had rested. According to another legend, this is also the site where Vibhishana had come to meet Lord Rama, to extend his support in the war against demon Ravana. It is situated on a hillock, about 3 km away from Rameshwaram Temple.
Built with limestone shoals, it is a causeway that connects India to Lanka. With a length of 30 km it used to the connecting bridge that linked Dhanushkodi and the Mannar Island of Sri Lanka. Now most submerged in water which occurred after the cyclone of 1480, it has great religious significance. As per legend, Ram Setu was built by the vanara army for reaching Lanka so as to rescue Goddess Sita and kill demon Ravana.
Located around 7 km away from the holy town, Pamban Bridge is an important part of Rameshwaram tour. It is the first bridge in India which was constructed over a sea. Built in 1912 and was also considered to be biggest bridge second to only Bandra-Worli sea link which has been built recently. The view of sea around it, the experience of being in the middle of the vast ocean bring hordes of tourists here. It has also religious importance, as Pamban is said to the place where Lord Rama had quenched Goddess Sita’s thirst by putting an arrow inside the ground.
Popularly known as Kalam House, it is another place worth visiting in rameshwaram. Earlier a home where late President A. P. J. Abdul Kalam had spent his childhood with his parents and brother, its first floor has been now converted into a museum. Here visitors can get a look into his life through various items related to him, depicting his childhood, achievement and works, which has been kept on display. On the second floor of the house, there is an art gallery while on ground floor has been turned into a souvenir shop.
An ideal place for bird watchers, Water Bird Sanctuary presents a refreshing touch of nature to Rameshwaram tour. This sanctuary boasts of a wide array of resident and migratory birds. Some of the migratory birds come from Europe and Australia during the breeding season. a large number of water tanks in this holy town also lead to many birds making this place as feeding and breeding destination. A few other sanctuaries located nearby are Arichamunai Bird Sanctuary, Kanjirankulam and Chitrangudi Sanctuaries.
One of the 108 divya desam, Sri Adi Jagannatha Perumal Temple, popular known as a Thirupullani Temple is located at a distance of around 70 km from Rameshwaram. Dedicated to Lord Dharba Sayana Rama, Lord is shown in a resting position. There are many legends behind this temple. As per one legend, this is the place where King Dasaratha after a long and dedicated worship was blessed with sons who were born to his three wives. Hence, many childless couples come here to seek lord’s blessings.
Presenting a touch of fun and entertainment, holy Island Water sports offer a wide array of watersports and land games for those who seek adventure and thrill. Located on the Holy Island beach, about 2 km away from Sri Ramanathaswamy Temple, it presents umpteen number of entertaining choices such as Jet Ski, Kayaking, Standup Board, Windsurfing, Banana Boat Rides, Snorkeling and Scuba Diving and games such as Water ball, Mini wheel, Dragon Ship and Trampoline for kids. It was opened in November 2014.
Along with these, there are many shrines which are located in and around the Rameshwaram temple. Devotees visit these temples and theerthams as well to seek lord’s blessings and wash away their sins. For instance, just 1 km from Sri Ramanathaswamy Temple is the Lakshmana Theertham where Lord Lakshmana is said to have taken bath before offering his prayers to Lord Shiva. Sugreeva Theertham dedicated to Sugreeva, who was the monkey King who had helped Lord Rama in the war against demon Ravana is another theertham while Jatayu Tirtham Temple is dedicated to Jatayu who had fought against demon Ravana in his efforts to free Goddess Sita from demon Ravana capture. Located on the way to Pamban is the Villondi Theertham where Lord Rama had buried his bow and arrow and also had quenched Goddess Sita’s thirst by dipping the arrow into the sea and turning the salt water into sweet drinking water. On the way to Dhanuskodi is the Jada Tirtham where Lord Rama had washed his hair before offering prayers to Lord Shiva.
Dhanuskodi is another place worth visiting which is around 20 km away from Rameshwaram. Declared as ghost town after the cyclone of 1964, this place is visited by tourists for its scenic beauty and ruins of ancient architecture. A popular picnic spot, Kushi Beach, also known as Ariyaman Beach is located around 21 km away from the town. Around 80 km away is the Devipatnam, another popular shrine to visit on a tour to Rameshwaram. Badrakaliamman Temple dedicated to Goddess Durga is also visited by devotees. It is only 2 km away from Rameshwaram Temple.