Rameshwaram

South east of Madurai, on an island in the Palk Strait, is the temple town of Rameswaram, a sacred place for Hindus. According to the Ramayana, this is the place where Rama worshipped Lord Shiva, to absolve himself of the sin of killing Ravana. Every nook and corner of Rameswaram, is steeped in episodes from the Ramayana. Rameswaram is the Varanasi of the south, and is a major pilgrimage centre for Vaishnavites and Shaivites.

Dhanushkodi

Dhanushkodi

Sightseeing

Ramanathaswamy Temple

Close to the sea, on the eastern side of the island, is this 17th century temple, renowned for its magnificent pillar corridor, running to a length of 1200 metres, and flanked by ornate pillars. This is the longest corridor in India. Construction of the temple began, in the 12th century AD, and additions were made to the building, over the succeeding centuries by various rulers, and, today, its gopuram is 53.6 metres high. There are 22 sacred wells in the temple, the water of each tasting different from the others.

Agnitheertham

100 metres away from the temple is Agnitheertham, where Rama worshipped Lord Shiva, to cleanse away the sin of killing Ravana.

Gandamadana Parvatham

Situated on the highest point in the island, 2 km north of Rameswaram town centre, is the venerable shrine, housing the imprint of Lord Rama's feet placed on a chakra.

Dhanushkodi

Dhanushkodi, at the eastern end of the island, is located 8 kms away from Rameswaram. This is the place where Rama is said to have bathed, and the boulders that pepper the sea between here and Srilanka, known as Adam's bridge, were the stepping stones used by Hanuman to find Rama's wife Sita, after she was abducted by Ravana, the King of Lanka. Dhanushkodi was completely washed away by the sea, in the 1964 cyclone. The only surviving relic of the past is the Kothandaramaswamy temple, which still contains the icons of Rama, Sita, Lakshmana, Hanuman and Vibhishana. Legend states that Vibhishana, brother of Ravana, surrendered to Rama at this spot.

Around Rameswaram

Ramanathapuram

The district headquarters and an ancient town, Ramanathapuram, is worth visiting for its Ram Vilas Palace. This palace of the Sethupati Rajas, houses oil portraits of the Rajas, of the past centuries. Ceilings and walls are decorated with early eighteenth century murals, depicting subjects such as business meetings with the English, and battles with the Maratha Sarabhoji, as well as scenes from epics.

Tirupullani

Also known as Dharbasayanam, the Vishnu temple at Tirupullani, is dedicated to Lord Adi Jagannatha Perumal.

Uthirakosamangai

The site is famous for the Shiva temple, the deity of which is carved in emerald. The annual 'Arudhra' festival in December, attracts a large number of tourists.

Erwadi

An important site for Muslim pilgrims, Erwadi houses the tomb of Ibrahim Sahid Aulia. The annual festival in honour of this saint, takes place in December.

Festivals

Festivals are celebrated in the Ramanathaswamy temple, in connection with Thai Amavasi (Jan), Masi Sivarathiri (Feb-Mar), Thirukalyanam (July-Aug) and Mahalaya Amavasi (Sept).

Access

Connected by road to all important towns. Rail connections with all major cities like Madras, Madurai, Coimbatore, Trichy and Tanjavur. Nearest airport is Madurai, which is 173 kms.

Accomodation

Hotel Tamil Nadu, Rameswaram. TTDC Youth Hostel, Mandapam.

Contact

Tourist Office, 14 Car Street, Rameswaram. Tourist Information Centre, Railway Station Compound, Rameswaram. Temple Information Centre, (Inside the temple), East Side, Ramanathaswamy temple.

Tamil Nadu