Ram Setu Yatra Rameshwaram

The Ram Setu, one of the few places of pilgrimage, attracts Hindu devotees and pilgrims from all parts of India. The initial point of Ram Setu is located at Dhanushkodi in Rameshwaram, one of the Char Dham ( Badrinath, Dwarika, Puri & Rameshwaram) of the Hindu faithful. According to the Anand Ramayan, great is the merit which accrues to one from a bath in the ‘setu’. Lord Ram himself is said to have visited it again sometime after his coronation. The Pandavas are said to have visited it in the Dwapar Yug. The Bhagavat Puran (भागवत पुराण) includes it in the program of the illustrious pilgrim Balaram (elder brother of Lord Krishna) while the great Bharat war (Mahabharat) was raging. Great sages like Agastya and his disciples performed penance on the ground sanctified by the ‘setu’. Such is the prestige it has enjoyed.

Tradition has fixed the program of the pilgrim to the Ram Setu from the time he reaches Ramnad. Once he reaches Ramnad, he has to follow the traditional path that Lord Ram is said to have trodden in the quest of a convenient place from which to bridge the ocean. The whole region of the Ramnad seems to be regarded as Mount Gandhamadan. The Skanda Puran speaks of every Teertham from Ramnad eastward as situated on the Mount Gandhamadan. It seems that Lord Ram first worshipped the Sri Veyil Ugantha Vinayagar at Uppoor, twenty miles north-east of Ramnad. The temple is an open one and Lord Ram is said to have established it before beginning his bridge. A few miles south of Uppoor is Devipatnam popularly called Navapashanam, a small coast-town and port, where nine stones set upright in the shallow bay are said to have been planted by Rama to represent the nine planets (the Sun being in the centre) whom he worshipped for the success of his endeavour.

The pilgrim should proceed to Dhanushkodi direct from Navapashanam but his path to Dhanushkodi is dotted with a number of Teerthams or holy waters, which he must dip into, if he wishes himself well. The Anand Ramayan makes Lord Ram himself undertake a pilgrimage to the ‘setu’ sometime after his coronation.

Proceed from Navapashanam or Devipatnam to Vetal Teertham at Vedalai west of Mandapam; then after crossing the Pamban channel (sagarasyaogham — current of the sea) proceeds to Bhairav Teertham, and Ekantha Ramaswamy Temple where Ram is said to have held a council of war away from the noise of the sea, while the bridge was building. The Mangal Teertham & Rinavimochana (ऋणविमोचन) Theertham on the way contain even now very good water and are filled with ‘day lotus’ and ‘night lotus’.

Drawing near Rameshwaram itself one has to fit oneself for the ‘setu’ by a clean shave and a bath in the Laxman Kund. After the first plunge in the Laxman Kund, the pilgrim has to go to the barber to shave off his head and, thereafter, needs to go again to the ‘teertham’ and bathe in it. Then there is the Ram Kund about a furlong to the east of it. All over Rameshwaram, there are a number of ‘teerthams’ in the shape of small ponds and wells generally with some holy shrine or image in their vicinity. A pilgrim can take his own time with regard to baths at all these ‘teerthams’. But a bath in the coral-reefed bay of Agniteertham directly in front of the eastern gate of the temple is more important.

Within the temple, there are a number of wells and ponds containing fresh water and there is also one big tank called the Madhav Teertham in the western portion with flights of stone-steps all round. The baths in Rameshwaram follow the bath at Dhanushkodi, and the bath at the Kodi Teertham, in the inner temple is final and the holy water of it is taken home by pilgrims in sealed cans. At Dhanushkodi (the point where the bay and the ocean meet) the pilgrim is asked to bathe first in a small lagoon by the shore of the Indian Ocean (Ratnakar), (formed by the flowing tide). This bath is called the Malavimochana Snan (bath for the removal of all uncleanness).

Something of the sanctity attached to these many springs may be due to the scarcity of drinking water on the island of Rameshwaram. Laxman Teertham and Ram Teertham are brackish. Only a few of the springs in the temple offer good drinking water. A pilgrim needs to take care of his health with regard to the baths in these various ‘teerthams’. Piety may satisfy itself with sprinkling a little of the water on the head and even this may prove an ordeal. The names of sages like Agastya, Galav, and Koundinya; of gods and goddesses like Brahma, Saraswati, Savitri and Gayatri; of abstract virtues like Rinavimochan (freeing from debts or sins), Mangal (giving prosperity) and Amrit (giving immortality); of the many servants and friends of Ram like Sugriva, Hanuman, Jambavant, Angad, Nal and Neel are freely indented upon for these various springs and ponds. It is surprising to find even the names of Baali and the Pandavas among them.

The number of baths prescribed at the Ram Setu is three dozens and the stay recommended is for about a month. Pilgrims mostly perform all the thirty six baths in three days or even in one day according to their convenience. Baths are indispensable, however, at three places — (i) at the Laxman Kund, which may be said to begin the course of worship; (ii) Dhanushkodi, and (iii) at Kodi Teertham within the inner court of the temple, the water of which is daily used for the bath of the idols and the worship. The ‘setu-snana’ (सेतु स्नान) should be followed by the visit to Shri Ramanathaswamy Temple at Rameshwaram.

After finishing the baths, worship and offerings at Dhanushkodi and Rameshwaram, the pilgrim is suggested to visit the Adi-Setu. Anyhow, he has to stop at Ramnad on his return journey for the last scene of the pilgrimage opens in the hall called Ramalinga Vilas within the precincts of the Ramnad Palace which contains the original stone on which the original Setupati himself was said to have been crowned by Lord Ram. Unless homage is paid to the stone or to the living Setupati in person, if he condescends to accept it, the pilgrimage is considered incomplete and has no merit.

Rameshwaram Tour Packages

Tamil Nadu Temples with Kovalam Beach Tour

Tamil Nadu Temples with Kovalam Beach Tour

13 Nights / 14 Days
Destination : Chennai - (Kanchipuram) – Mahabalipuram - Puducherry - Tanjore - (Trichy)-Madurai –Rameshwaram – Kanyakumari - Kovalam

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