Rameshwaram, an unspoiled and a quiet town, lies in the state of Tamil Nadu and is part of the enchanting Pamban Island. The town is connected to the rest of the country via the famous Pamban channel. The Mannar Island in Sri Lanka is about 1,403 km away from Rameshwaram. Rameshwaram is regarded as one of the holy places of the Hindus and a must visit during the Char Dham Yatra or the holy pilgrimage. Legend has it that Rameshwaram was the place from where Lord Rama, who is considered the seventh avatar of Lord Vishnu, had built the bridge to Sri Lanka in order to rescue his captured wife Sita from Ravana, the king of Lanka.
In fact, the word Rameshwara means “place where Eswara was worshiped by Rama” and presumably this is from where the place gets its name. The famous Ramanathaswamy Temple is located in the centre of the town and is dedicated to Rama. The temple is visited every year by lakhs of Hindus to offer prayers and seek blessings from the god.
Rameshwaram has played an important role in the history of India, especially, when trade with other countries was involved. The island was a stop gap point for those travelling to Sri Lanka erstwhile Ceylon. In fact, the Jaffna Kingdom claimed control of the town and the royal dynasty of Jaffna called themselves Sethukavalan or the custodians of Rameshwaram.
The main importance of Rameshwaram is due to the numerous temples that are dedicated to Shiva and Vishnu and because of the numerous theerthas that are located in and around Rameshwaram. Every year Hindus from all parts of the world visit the holy place in order to gain moksha or salvation. Paying their obeisance in the temples at Rameshwaram is a must for the Hindus at least once in their life.
How to Reach Rameshwaram Rameshwaram has a well-connected railway station as well as good network of roads.
A FEW MUSTS IN RAMESHWARAM
THE MAJESTIC AND MIGHTHY RAMANATHASWAMY EMPLE
The Ramanatha Swamy temple, the largest in the town of Rameshwaram is spread over a whopping 15 acres and is ornate, large and awe inspiring all at once.
Rameshwaram is well-known for its temple tanks but a place that is of special importance is the Villoondi Theertham. Legend has it that this was created with lord Rama shot an arrow to get fresh water from the sea to quench his wife Sita’s thirst. Located about 7 km from the Ramanathaswamy Temple, this place offers some stunningly beautiful and dramatic views of the sea. Incidentally, the place is named Villondi or 'buried bow' as it is believed to be the place where Lord Rama buried his bow and arrow. A long platform leads you to this holy well and it is magical to walk on it as you see the sea from both the sides. The water in the well is quite mysteriously sweet in spite of being surrounded by salt sea water all around and devotees believe it will do them good if they take a sip of this holy water. There is a small temple like structure adjoining this place and as you stand at the edge of the platform, you can see statues of gods and goddesses in the water bed. The sight is quite fascinating, just like the place itself.
THE PANCHMUKHI HANUMAN TEMPLE
The Panchamukhi Hanuman Temple dedicated to a five-faced Hanuman that is a mere 2 km from the Ramanathaswamy Temple. This temple is dedicated to Lord Hanuman and it is said that this is where Lord Ram had revealed five faces to Hanuman. The idol's five faces depict faces of Lord Narasimha, Lord Adivaraha, Lord Garuda and Lord Hayagriva on the sides The other interesting aspect of this temple is the famed floating stones that are kept for all devotees to have a look. These are believed to be the stones that were used by Lord Ram to build the floating bridge from Rameshwaram to Lanka. It feels amazing to see the rather heavy stones floating in water so make sure you check out this place.
THE PRISTINE BEACHES AND WATER SPORTS
Rameshwaram has many beaches being located alongside the coast. The Ariyaman Beach is located on the road that leads you to Rameshwaram and is a quiet, calm beach.
Rameshwaram has 64 tanks or theerthams, of which 22 are inside the Ramanathaswamy Temple and the rest outside in different forms. On the way to Dhanushkodi, about 3.5 km from the Ramanathaswamy Temple is the Jada theertham. This is the place where Lord Rama and Lakshmana washed their hair (Jada) after killing Ravana. This was done as an act of purifying themselves and headed to worship lord Shiva from here. This water tank is surrounded by trees all around and this place finds a mention in the Ramayan as well. People throng this place for a dip. The other legend associated with this place is that this is supposed to be the place where the giant bird Jatayu passed away trying to save Sita after his wings were cut by Ravana. A temple close to this place is the Kaveri Theertham Temple that has a huge Peepal tree. The temple is small but has intricate carvings and detailed craftsmanship. It is believed that Lord Rama, Goddess Sita and Lord Lakshmana had rested under this tree when they were in exile. The annual Maha Shivarathiri and Maha Makam, held once in 12 years are some of the important festivals that see a large gathering.
The Sugreevar Temple or Theertham is located on the way to the Gandhamadana Parvatam and is situated close to the Doordarshan Kendra in Rameshwaram. This place is well-known for its famous lotus pond on the way to Ramar Padham, another location close to this temple. This pond is known as Sita Kund dedicated to the wife of Lord Rama and is filled with pink lotus flowers and is a beautiful sight. Sugreevar was the king of Kishkintha, the monkey kingdom and was helped by Lord Ram to become king after his empire was wrongfully usurped by his bother Bali. The airport closest to the city is at Madurai.
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