Ramanathaswamy Temple Rameshwaram

Ramanathaswamy Temple Rameshwaram
Vital Information for Visitors

Ramananathaswamy Temple, Rameshwaram, Tamil Nadu

Open & Close :

Open on all days

Timing :

04:0 AM – 01:00 PM
03:00 PM to 08:00 PM

Entry Fees:



2-3 Hours


Jyotirlingam established by Lord Ram

Ramanathaswamy Temple, also known as temple of Rameshwaram, is the most visited tourist attraction of the island town of Rameshwaram in Ramanathapuram district of Tamil Nadu. The great temple of Rameshwaram stands on a rising ground in the northern part of the island, the eastern tower which is visible from a great distance, being a stone’s throw from the shore of the shallow bay called the Agni Tirtha. The temple buildings are surrounded by a high wall 12 feet in height covering an area measuring about 865 feet from east to west and 657 feet from north to south. The eastern tower is 126 feet in height. It surmounts not the wall of the present outer enclosure but that of the inner enclosure surrounding the inner ‘prakaram’ (प्राकारम् / प्राकार in Sanskrit) (usually called the third ‘prakaram’). The tower on the west gate is 78 feet high and very much older than the eastern. Both of them are trapezoid in form, and are elaborately covered with mythological figures, the forms of Lord Shiva, Goddess Parvati and his retinue being the most often repeated. The two other gopurams surmounting the southern and northern gates are too quite huge and high. Some unfinished ‘gopurams’ are part of the temple.

Entrance: Outside the main wall on the eastern side are two large porticos, one opposite the eastern gopuram and leading up to it, and the other a little south of it leading into a subsidiary gopuram in a line with the big eastern tower and surmounting the gateway in front of the temple of Ramanatha's consort, Parvatavardhini. But this portico is now practically closed, and only opened at the time of the annual marriage festival of the god and goddess. It leads into the Kalyan Mandapam (कल्याण मंडपम) which is directly in front of the goddess’s temple.

Gardens: Between the outer wall and third ‘prakaram’ except at the gates, there are gardens almost all round the temple which grow various varieties of flower plants watered from wells. Flowers and garlands for the worship in the temple are supplied from these. The pleasant ambience within the temple’s compound contributes to the calmness of mind to delve deep into worship. The flight of stone steps all round the Madhav Tirtha within the temple affords ample space for artificial gardening with flowerpots. All unfinished towers are locally called Royagopurams. There are many all over South India. One of the Vijayanagar Emperors is said to have ordered the construction of many towers in many places but circumstances prevented their completion. Hence Royagopuram has become a proverbial expression to mean anything unfinished or incomplete.

Prakarams and Shrines: An exceedingly interesting and grand feature of Ramanathaswamy Temple is the vast 17 feet wide perambulatory corridor running all around between huge colonnades on 5 feet high platforms. This is called the third ‘prakaram’ that encloses all the important shrines, holy wells, and ponds within the temple creating an impression of grandeur and giving a definite unity of design to the whole; except only a pretty big shrine of Nataraj and his spouse is situated in the north-east corner of this ‘prakaram’ as also two small shrines of ‘lingams’ on the northern and western side with independent turrets surmounting them.

In the north-west corner is situated a cell containing life-size figures painted over, representing the scene of Lord Ram and Goddess Sita establishing the ‘lingam’ called Rameshwaram or Ramanathaswamy and Hanuman trying to pull off the same with his tail. Vibhishan (विभीषण), Sugriv (सुग्रीव) and others have been portrayed standing nearby. The adjoining corridor connects this cell with the west gate that opens to a bazaar.

The Devasthanam offices are located in the eastern and south-eastern portions of these ‘prakarams’. Near the north-east corner, there is a small strongly-barred cell in which the golden festal images of the presiding deities have been carefully kept; and worship is offered to them through a small opening at the top. A silver-pair does duty for them at all festal processions. The valuable idols, vehicles and the ornaments of the temple are in the custody of the treasurer of the temple who always resides in Rameshwaram unlike the trustee, who has to tour about the villages constituting the Devasthanam estates, and who is allowed by the Devasthanam Committee to reside in Madurai.

Within this ‘prakaram’ are located two main portions of the temple – Madhav Tirtha with Setu Madhav Temple & Rameshwara Temple. Both the sections are separated by a huge stone wall. The Madhav Tirtha and the temple of Setu-Madhav (which has around it a small open compound with some sacred wells and some minor cells and shrines in it) occupy the western section which is about a third of the whole enclosure. The other and bigger section contains the shrines of Rameshwara and his consort. There is a huge doorway connecting the two sections but it is opened occasionally. Around these shrines runs what is called the second ‘prakaram’ enclosing an area about 386 feet from east to west and 314 feet from north to south. The Madappalli, the temple kitchen, is located in the south-east corner of this ‘prakaram’ and provision is made also for those who weave garlands and grind sandal paste for worship.

Between this and the inner ‘prakaram’, there is an irregularly pillared and sheltered space wherein lies the stone-built idol of couchant bull Nandi, the vehicle of Lord Shiva. The Nandi statue with brilliantly flashing eyes and flaming tongue is a specimen of great masonry. Nearby lies is a square-shaped pond with stone-built flight of steps called the Sivallicerthaiu. Interestingly, there are three stone-built statues in front of the Nandi. The two statues on both sides of the face of the bull represent Vishwanath and Krishnam Naik of Madurai. The third short statue near a pillar is half-buried in the ground. It is said to be the figure of a Muslim jihadi who came to rob the temple. He was struck blind and he repented his misdeed. Then, he regained his sight and went away. Pilgrims give a pious knock on the head to this figure.

The inner ‘prakarams’ are different for the god and the goddess. In the open space between the second and the inner ‘prakarams’ to the north side are two long rooms. The cells contain a small shrine of Kal Bhairav and a large number of lingams of various sizes. one of which exhibits 108 lingams. The inner ‘prakarams’ are also studded with various small lingams, images and shrines. That of Ramanatha contains (a) various small shrines containing fine bronze images of Nataraj; (b) another small shrine containing images of Shaivite saints; (c) another small shrine of Vishalakshi Amman, the spouse of Vishwanath, the lingam established by Hanuman; (d) a shrine of Vighneshwar at the back; and (e) a row of eleven lingams adjoining the Vishalakshi shrine, one of them is of red-violet stone Jyothirlingam and said to have been established by Vibhishan. To all of these bath and worship are offered daily. (f) a holy well called Kodi Tirtha is by the side of the Vishalakshi shrine.

The high doorway of the Ramanathaswamy Temple’s inner ‘prakaram’ is of polished granite; and on either side of it, on the raised platforms immediately within are the images of the Sun and the Moon, corresponding to the Surya and Chandra Nadis of our breath through the right and left nostrils, the God within the shrine corresponding to the soul within the body.

The ‘mandapam’ round which this inner ‘prakaram’ runs has on it (a) two smaller ‘mandapams’ with beautifully polished pillars of black granite surmounted with gilt domes; (b) three ancient shrines - the central one containing the ‘lingam’ of brownish sandstone established by Ram and Sita, the one to the left containing a ‘lingam’ of black stone said to have been established by Hanuman, and the third being used for keeping the festal silver-images of the god and goddess; (c) a small raised platform at the south-west corner on which is a barred enclosure containing the image of a Setupati on horseback facing the east; (d) a holy well towards the south-east corner called the Sarva Tirtha constantly used by pilgrims. The Sarva Tirtha is said to have been instituted by Adiguru Shri Shankaracharya. Brahmins thereafter have been using it in preference to the Kodi Tirtha, so much praised in the ‘puranas’ (पुराण).

Navashakti Mandapam with fine sculptured female forms standing in relief on some of the pillars is the place where the goddess holds her court on festive nights, especially every Friday night before she goes to Ramanatha in a procession.

Architecture: Built in typical Dravidian style of temple architecture, Ramanathaswamy Temple is massive in size and strong in construction. Meenakshi Temple in Madurai is the finest and grandest specimen of this kind of architecture. The horizontally put long stone slab rests on huge and intricately carved stone pillars. One of the most appreciated carvings is that of hunters and warriors riding on horses or elephants. Figures representing elephants lifting up their trunks which are caught between the paws and the fangs of supposed rampant lions are frequently carved. The pillars are decorated with finely fretted work with mythological figures. But, these elaborate carvings in Ramananathaswamy Temple have been white-washed or painted over, probably to protect them from the corrosion caused by the salt breeze.

The South Indian temple architecture is characterized by a noteworthy feature – absence of the arch. The gateways, twelve to nineteen feet in height, are made of long upright stone slabs with single stone slabs laid upon them. The corridors are the most celebrated feature of the temple. The pillars in the corridors are composite and elaborate in design. The pillared platform lining the aisles on either side is a special feature of the temple of Rameshwaram. The west corridor is by far the finest of the whole lot having double rows of highly carved monolithic pillars. The floor of the temple is all composed of stone.

At any time of the day or night, it is a pleasure to wander about in the temple. Temple is better lighted, ventilated and cleaned than any other big temple in South India. The west gate is nearer to the heart of the town; therefore, the pilgrims usually enter the temple through that. A European visitor is allowed to enter only the third ‘prakaram’.

Religious Rites, Rituals & Puja Timings:

Religious Rites, Rituals & Puja Puja Timings
Palliyarai Deep Aradhana 05:00 am – 05:10 am
Spatikalinga Deep Aradhana 05:10 am – 05:20 am
Thiruvananthal Deep Aradhana 05:45 am – 05:55 am
Vila Puja 07:00 am – 07:30 am
Kalasanthi Puja 10:00 am – 10:30 am
Uchikala Puja 12:00 pm – 12:30 pm
Sayaratcha Puja 06:00 pm – 06:30 pm
Arthajama Puja 08.30 pm – 09:00 pm
Palliyarai Puja 08:45 pm – 09:15 pm

Rameshwaram Tour Packages

View All

Enquire Now

Enquire Now