INTRODUCTIONRameshwaram in the Gulf of Mannar is a small island situated about 4kms off the main land. The longest rail and the road bridges constructed over the sea connects this island with the main land. It is well known for its Ramanathaswamy temple. Its 1220mts long corridor, the longest in India, is the prime attraction of the temple and it is of the Dravidian architecture.
The temple has a number of sacred wells which makes this a religiously important tourist spot.Kurusadai island is situated about 20kms off Mandapam is a well preserved ecological centre. One can see coral reefs, Dugong and endangered marine life in the Biosphere.Rameshwaram the sea swept island is popularly called as the 'Benaras of the South'.Rameshwaram takes the shape off a conch and sprawls over an area of a 60 kilometers. There is a tradition among the Hindus saying that a Pilgrimage to Kashi is not considered complete without a pilgrimage to Rameshwaram.
HISTORYAccording to the history of Rameshwaram, it was under the reign of Pandya Dynasty till 15th century and then followed by the Nayak kings of Vijayanagar Empire till the end of the 17th century.Rameshwaram reach to its glory only during the reign of the Sethupathis who captured the kingdom from the Nayaks. The Sethupathis were the earlier chieftains of the region. Being experts in the field of art and architecture there was a major development in this area and under the support of the Sethupathis chieftains, the art and architecture flourished to glory. Some of the eminent and noteworthy chieftains during this period were Muthuramalinga Sethupathy, Udayan Sethupathy, Raghunatha Sethupathy and Thirumalai Sethupathy.
LEGENDThere are legends which say that Lord Rama performed his thanksgiving in the Lanka war after defeating the Demon King, Ravana in this region. There is also another legend which says that after the battle when Lord was here he had to worship Lord Shiva, so he called upon the monkey god Hanuman and sent him to Mount Kailash to bring a lingam. Because hanuman was delayed Sita moulded one herself which subsequently became known as the Ramanatha. So when Hanuman came back with the lingam Rama made him install that near the Ramanatha.
LOCATIONRameswaram is located at 9.28°N 79.3°E.It is situated in the Gulf of Mannar at the very tip of the Indian peninsula and in the district of Ramanathapuram in Tamil Nadu.
FAIRS AND FESTIVALSMost of the festivals celebrated in Tamil Nadu are also celebrated here with major pomp and glory. However some important festivals observed here are
Masi Sivaratri – this festival is dedicated to Lord Shiva
Mahalaya Amavasai – last day of Mahalaya Paksham
PLACES OF INTEREST
Ramanathaswamy TempleOne of the most popular temples in India is concentrated more towards the eastern side of the island. The Ramanathaswamy Temple is noted for its magnificent corridors built in the Dravidian architectural style with huge sculptured pillars lining it. This corridor takes the credit of the longest in India which measures about 197 meters long East-West, 133 meters in length South-North.
The gourmand of the temple is about 38.4 meters high. Construction of the temple began in the 12th century AD and additions were made over the centuries by various rulers.
Gandamadana ParvathamThe Gandamadana Parvatham,a small temple is situated at a distance of about 2 km from Rameswaram.This is the highest point of the island where there is an imprint of Lord Rama's feet placed on a Chakra or a wheel.
AgnitheerthamThis sacred water is just 100 metres away from the temple and legends says that it is here where Lord Rama worshipped Lord Shiva, after the Lanka battle defeating and killing Ravana.The water here is considered to be very sacred and pilgrims bathe in this place before entering the Temple.
ErwadiErwadi is located at a distance of about 24 kilometers from Rameshwaram and it is an important Muslim pilgrimage site which houses the tomb of Ibrahim Sahid Aulia.This is a very famous place known across the country and thousands of devotees visit this place especially during the annual festival celebrated as a tribute to the saint. Possessed people are brought here to drive away the evil spirit.
DhanushkodiDhanushkodi is situated at the southernmost tip of the island. There is nothing here other than the remnants in this place for it was completely washed away by the 1964 cyclone.
Kothandaraswamy TempleThe Kothandaraswamy Temple in Dhanushkodi is the only place which is still seen even after the cyclone and is situated at a distance of about 2 kms from the Railway Station. There is a road to this temple from Rameshwaram.It is said that in this place Vibishana, brother of Ravana of the Ramayanam, surrendered before Lord Rama and one can see idols of Sri Rama, Sita, Lakshmana, Hanuman and Vibishana here.
SethuThis place is situated at a distance of about 5-km south of the Ramanatha temple and there are legends which says that the bridge here was built by Sri Rama and his army to cross over to Lank during the war. There is a celebrated temple of Sri Anjaneya here.
Adam's BridgeAdam's Bridge is the name given to the chain of reefs, sandbanks and islets that almost connects Sri Lanka with India. According to legend, this is the series of stepping stones used by Hanuman to follow Ravana, in his bid to rescue Sita.
Kurusadai IslandThe Kurusadai Island is oriented more towards the west of the Pamban bridge between the mainland and the island. One has to travel a distance of about 20kms from Rameswaram to reach this spot and this island inturn is surrounded by number of other tiny islands.
It is of great interest to the biologists and many people come here for research. However they should get prior permission from Fisheries Department to go to this island.
DevipatnamThis is a small Navapashana temple in the sea with nine stones which can be seen when there is a low tide. There are legends which say that this was installed by Lord Rama representing the nine planets.
SHOPPINGWhen it comes to shopping in Rameswaram the must items in the list are variety of exquisite handicraft and decorative items like items made from palm leaf, beads and seashells. Apart from the Khadicraft there are many items in and around the temples where you can buy these handicrafts. Rameswaram silk sarees are very popular among the ladies.
East Car St
next to the tourist office
2.TTDC Hotel Tamil Nadu
3.Ram Nivas restaurant
Semma Madam, Ramnad Highway,
Rameswaram - 623526,
Phone: +91-4573 -221680
7, Middle Street,
(West to Temple) Rameswaram,
Phone: +91-4573- 221271
3.Hotel Tamil Nadu (TTDC)
Phone: +91- 4573-221064 to 67
5.Hotel Royal Park
Near Main Bus Depot
Ramnad High Road
Tamil Nadu - 623526
6.Blue Coral Cottage
Near Tamilnadu Hotel
Near The Temple,
No.7, Middle Street
Tamil Nadu - 623526
9.Hare Rama Hare Krishna Hotel
15/24,Ramar Padham Road
10.Devaswam Guest House
Near Ramanathswami Temple
By AirThe nearest airport at Madurai is 163 kilometers away, it takes care of the air travel of people from across the globe and within the country.
Rameshwaram is well connected to all major cities by road. The bus station is two km west of town. Buses run to Madurai four times daily and to Kanyakumari, Trichy and Chennai. There are also a number of buses to Rameshwaram, Trichy and Thanjavur via Madurai.