Photo Credit : Ejaz Mirzan
The town Rameshwaram ( Also known as Pamban Island ) is situated in southern part of Tamilnadu State of India,located on Pamban Island separated from mainland India by the Pamban channel and is about 50 kilometres from Mannar Island, Sri Lanka. It is situated in the Gulf of Mannar, at the very tip of the Indian peninsula.This place is connected to mainland India by the Pamban Bridge. Rameswaram is the terminus of the railway line from Chennai and Madurai. Together with Varanasi, it is considered to be one of the holiest places in India to Hindus, and part of the Char Dham pilgrimage.
The Ramanathaswamy Temple, dedicated to the Hindu god Shiva, is located at the centre of the town and is closely associated with Rama. It is said that this is the place from where the Hindu god Rama built a bridge across the sea to Lanka to rescue his wife Sita from her abductor Ravana. The temple, along with the town, is considered a holy pilgrimage site for both Shaivas and Vaishnavas
Following are the majour tourist attractions nearby Rameshwaram:
- 1. Sri Ramanathaswamy Temple:
It is one of the Twelve Jyotirlinga temples and one of the 274 Paadal Petra Sthalams, where the three of the most revered Nayanars (Saivite saints), Appar, Sundarar and Tirugnana Sambandar, have glorified the temple with their songs. The temple was expanded during the 12th century by Pandya Dynasty, and its principal shrines sanctum were renovated by Jeyaveera Cinkaiariyan and his successor Gunaveera Cinkaiariyan of the Jaffna kingdom.
Like all ancient temples in South India, there is a high compound wall (madil) on all four sides of the temple premises measuring about 865 feet furlong from east to west and one furlongs of 657 feet from north to south with huge towers (Gopurams) at the east and west and finished gate towers on the north and south. The temple has striking long corridors in its interior, running between huge colonnades on platforms above five feet high.
Temple Timings: 5 am to 1 pm & 3 pm to 9 pm
- 2. Kothandaramaswamy Temple:
The temple is estimated to have been constructed about 500-1000 years ago. Rama, the main idol, is depicted as having a bow (Kothandam), and hence the name Kothandaramaswamy for the idol and its Located at a distance of 13 kilometres (8.1 mi) from Rameswaram, it forms the southernmost tip of the island. The temple is the only historical structure to survive the 1964 cyclone that washed away Dhanushkodi. The temple has the deities of Rama, Lakshmana, Sita, Hanuman and Vibhishana. The temple is surrounded by sea and remains a tourist attraction. It is easily accessible from Rameswaram. It is preferable to visit the temple in the early morning, as over this, is the time when the temple gets crowded.
Temple Timings: 6:30 am to 10:30 am & 5:30 pm to 8:30 pm
- 3. The Five Faced Hanuman Temple (Panchamukhi Hanuman Temple):
The Five faced Hanuman Temple (or Panchmukhi Hanuman Temple) is another relatively lesser known but a unique destination for Hindu pilgrims, specially Hanuman bhakts. According to the legend, during the war between Lord Rama and demon Ravana who had abducted Goddess Sita, Ravana had seeked the help of Mahiravana, who was the king of Patala Loka. However, Lord Hanuman, in order to protect Lord Rama and Lakshman, had built a huge fortress around them with his tail.Panchamukhi Hanuman Temple is located around 2 km away from Sri Ramanathaswamy Temple. It is easily accessible by road.
Temple Timings: 6 am to 7 pm
- 4. Agni Theertham:
This Tirtham is one of the most visited Tirthams of Rameswaram for a holy bath.This is one of the 64 sacred baths in Rameswaram (theerthams), Every day thousands of pilgrims took bath in this holy sea .Holistic rituals such as Prohithams, Tharpanam(Ritual for the ancestors who were dead) , Yangnya( Yaham ),has been performed in the shores of Agni theertham.
Temple Timings: 5 am to 6 pm
- 5. Ariyaman Beach:
Ariyaman beach alias Kushi beach is situated in Palk-Bay it is nearly 27 kilometers from Rameswaram, The beach measures 150 meters wide and about 2 Kilometers long.The Ariyaman Beach also features children’s park, watch tower and water-based attractions like wind surfing and water scooters. Tourists can also visit the aquarium and museum near the beach. This clean beach features large casuarina trees that provide shade for rest or picnic.
- 6. Dhanuskodi Beach – Ram Sethu view point (Arichal munai):
Sethu Bridge, The sea bridge built across the sea towards srilanka by Lord Rama is believed to be started from here. This point is the the South most tip of the Rameswaram Island.Dhanushkodi is an abandoned town at the south-eastern tip of Pamban Island of the state of Tamil Nadu in India. It is situated to the South-East of Pamban and is about 18 miles (29 km) west of Talaimannar in Sri Lanka. The town was destroyed during the 1964 Rameswaram cyclone and remains uninhabited in the aftermath.
A visit to Dhanushkodi makes one wonder as to how such peace and tranquility can at times, also unleash such fury and destruction, but then life goes on, as does for the small section of the fisherfolk who continue to inhabit the island and depend on it for their basic needs of food and drinking water, which the island continues to provide for them, often in miraculous ways
- 7. Adam’s Bridge:
The bridge is 50 km (30 mi) long and separates the Gulf of Mannar (southwest) from the Palk Strait (northeast). Some of the sandbanks are dry and the sea in the area is very shallow, being only 1 to 10 metres (3 to 30 ft) deep in places, which hinders navigation. Geological evidence suggests that this bridge is a former land connection between India and Sri Lanka. It was reportedly passable on foot up to the 15th century until storms deepened the channel, temple records seem to say that Adam’s Bridge was completely above sea level until it broke in a cyclone in 1480. The Indian Sanskrit epic Ramayana by Valmiki speaks of a bridge, Setubandhanam, a bridge over the ocean connecting India with Sri Lanka, the land of Ravana, the ruler of men and god.
- 8. Annai Indira Gandhi Road Bridge/Pamban Bridge:
Pamban Bridge is a railway bridge which connects the town of Rameswaram Island to mainland India. It was India’s first sea bridge, The rail bridge is, for the most part, a conventional bridge resting on concrete piers, but has a double-leaf bascule section midway, which can be raised to let ships and barges pass through.The arch shaped architecture of the bridge, and its height from the sea level let the ships and boats pass beneath its piers (Pillars) without any disturbance (The pamban cantilever rail bridge has gate like passage arrangement named “Scherzer Roll” in the middle of it) .