How to Reach Rameshwaram

Rameshwaram, a Hindu ‘tirtha’ (तीर्थ), is one of the Chardham (चारधाम). The sacred island of Rameshwaram is some hundred miles from Madurai and Sri Lanka lies only forty six miles away on the other side of Palk Strait. This sliver of land separates the Bay of Bengal in the north from the Indian Ocean and the train-ride to this outpost of India offers some unique seascapes. Rameshwaram holds its religious significance for the Hindus for its association with Lord Ram. Ram arrived here with his monkey-host to cross over to Lanka. After his victory over Ravan and return, he was advised by the sages to worship Lord Shiva in the form of a Lingam to wash off the sin of having slain Ravan and his hosts. Sri Ram’s faithful servant, Lord Hanuman was sent to the Himalayas to fetch a ‘lingam’ for installation and worship. An auspicious day had been fixed — the tenth day of the bright fortnight of the month of Ani — for installing the image. Hanuman did not return by that date and so an image of ‘lingam’ made out of sea-sand, lying nearby, by Ram’s divine consort Sita, was installed with due ceremony. Hanuman arrived subsequently and, finding his labours vain, tried to pull out the sand-made ‘lingam’, but all his attempts failed. At last Ram, in order to appease his devotee-servant, installed the stone lingam brought by Hanuman to the north of the one already established and ordered that worship may be offered to the image brought by his faithful servant first. The ‘lingam’ in the great shrine of Rameshwaram, being thus the one installed by Lord Rama himself, is considered supremely sacred and is an object of worship to all sections of the Hindus in India.

Rameshwaram is easily accessible, though located in the sea and off the coast. Rameshwaram can be reached by air, train and road. A three kilometer long bridge, making vehicular road transport frequent and easier, connects the mainland to the island pilgrimage site. Railway bridge, high over the sea, facilitates connectivity of Rameshwaram by train with major cities of India. Airports in nearby cities provide good air-connectivity to Rameshwaram.

Reaching Rameshwaram by Air: Rameshwaram does not have its own airport. The nearest airports to Rameshwaram are in Madurai and Tuticorin. Madurai & Tuticorin airports are well-connected with all parts of India. After arriving at Madurai or Tuticorin by air, board easily available cabs for Rameshwaram. Distance of Rameshwaram from Madurai is 149 km and from Tuticorin is 142 km.

Reaching Rameshwaram by Train: There is a branch line to Rameshwaram from Pamban on the main line of the Southern Railway between Chennai and Dhanushkodi. Dhanushkodi, about 25 kilometers to the south of Rameshwaram, and forming the terminus of the railway line, serves as the sacred bathing ghat to holy Rameshwaram. Rameshwaram is well-connected by several superfast and express trains with major cities in India. On arrival at Rameshwaram railway station, a traveler can hire auto-rickshaw or cab to explore the town and visit the sacred shrines and ‘tirthas’. From Rameshwaram, a tourist or pilgrim can either return to the main line of the Southern Railway and head back to Madurai or else continue to Dhanushkodi, at the tip of the island. The Hindu pilgrim must continue, for bathing at the spot where the Bay of Bengal meets the Indian Ocean is considered one of his most pious duties. The rail journey between the two seas, amidst swaying palms and glistening sands is a rare experience.

Reaching Rameshwaram by Road: Rameshwaram can easily be reached by road transport such as taxis and buses. State roadways corporations & private transport operators of south Indian states run multi-axles air-conditioned sleeper & regular buses. A journey to Rameshwaram by bus is quite relaxing, safe, and comfortable. The Annai Indira Gandhi Road Bridge, connecting Pamban in Rameshwaram Island to Mandapam in the mainland, is three kilometer long and runs high over the sea. Buses for pilgrims ply frequently between Rameshwaram and Chennai, Madurai, Coimbatore, Kanyakumari, Tiruchirappalli (Trichy), Thanjavur, Bhubaneswar etc at regular intervals. The tickets for the trip to Rameshwaram can be booked either online or directly at the bus terminus.

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