Tourist Attractions in Rameshwaram

Rameshwaram at the south-east extreme of the Indian peninsula is located on an island in the Gulf of Mannar, where the Bay of Bengal and the Arabian Sea meet. The sacred-most shrine in Rameshwaram is Ramanathaswamy Temple (रामनाथस्वामी मंदिर). The temple enshrines one of the twelve Jyotirlingams — the most sacred symbols of Lord Shiva associated with Sri Ramachandra (Lord Ram). It was from here that Rama crossed over to Sri Lanka, by erecting a bridge with the help of his devoted monkey brigade. After Ravan was vanquished and Sita was rescued, Ram was advised to propitiate Shiva who could absolve him of the consequence of his killing — a Brahmin — for Ravan, though a demon, was a Brahmin. Rama sent Hanuman to secure Shiva’s symbol from the Himalaya. As the propitious hour for the worship was to commence and Hanuman was not to be seen, Rama and Sita erected a symbol on the spot. But soon thereafter Hanuman too arrived with the symbol. Both the symbols are worshipped, the offerings first made to the one brought by Hanuman, known as Shri Kashi Vishveshvar or Kashi Vishwanath. The one established by Rama is known as Jyotirlingam.

Ramanathaswamy Temple is remarkable for its architecture. The outermost enclosure measures 880 feet in length and 673 feet in width and has four gopurams, the one at the eastern entrance rising 150 feet high. The temple has the longest corridor in the world. It extends to nearly 4,000 feet in length, the breadth varying from 17 to 21 feet. The height is about 30 feet. The pillars supporting the corridors are adorned with intricate designs which are extremely beautiful. The perspective presented by them running uninterruptedly to a length of 700 feet is a breathtaking sight.

Mount Gandhamaadan (गंधमादन पर्वत), Ram Setu, Dhanushkodi, sacred wells etc are among some of the prime tourist attractions in Rameshwaram. As per Skand Puran, all the gods, goddesses and holy waters love to live on Mount Gandhamaadan; hence it is no wonder that almost every fresh water well or tank in the land of the Setu, between the Adi-Setu and the present Setu, Dhanushkodi, happens to have a mystical sanctity about it, and an old tale to support it. The pious pilgrim will shut his eye to chronology and probability and give due value to these artless accumulations of piety which reverently trace the particles of dust rendered holy by the god-like hero’s wanderings. One of the holy places to visit in Rameshwaram is Tirupullanai or Dharbasayanam, the place where Sri Ram underwent austere penances before undertaking his arduous task of conquering Ravan. The elaborate preparations on the part of Lord Ram are so many hints pointing to the allegorical aspect of Sri Rama’s story. As all rivers flow towards the ocean, all virtues flowed towards Rama. He was the embodiment of all virtue. His conquest of the ten-headed monster was the victory of the pure soul against the many-headed monster of evil.

There are twenty four minor ‘tirthas’ (तीर्थ - holy spots) in Rameshwaram, apart from Ratnakar (Indian Ocean) and Mahodadhi (Bay of Bengal) as the seashore on the eastern side and western side are called.

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