Adi Shankaracharya propagated the idea of Hinduism through Advaita Vedanta and the town of Rameshwaram stands as a testimony of his faith. One of the four pilgrimage places, Char Dham of India, it modestly invites followers of Lord Shiva from everywhere to pay visit at least once in their lifetime to the Jyotirlinga installed in the Ramanathaswamy Temple. Vaishnavites are also not left in their devotion to come to this place which is believed to be associated with Lord Rama, incarnation of Lord Vishnu as well.
The town has been changed many hands; main amongst them were Cholas, Jaffna Kingdom, Allaudin Khilji (Malik Kafur), Pandya Dynasty, Vijayanagara Empire, followed by some other rulers who ruled the town for a very short while before British East India Company directly took over it and made it a part of Madras Presidency.
The Rameshwaram Temple which is the main reason the town is known to every other person following Hinduism, Lord Shiva and Lord Vishnu is said to be built by Sethupathis of Sethukavalan – custodian of the legendary bridge built by Lord Rama when he crossed the sea to reach Lanka (now Sri Lanka) the place in the control of Demon King Ravana, also a Brahman.
Rameshwaram is believed to be the place from where Lord Rama started his journey to get his wife Sita back from Ravana and the Lord was helped by ‘Vaanar-Sena’ army of legendary monkey-humans and served by Hanuman, Lord Ram’s paramount devotee. Also, many later versions of Ramayana testify of installing a ShivaLingam by Shri Ram and Devi Sita to worship Lord Shiva as a part of penance for Brahmahatya – killing of Brahmana, Ravana who was himself a well-known staunch follower of Lord Shiva. The Rameshwaram Temple, built in 12th century is believed to have the same Shiva Lingam.
The bridge to Lanka named ‘Rama Set u’, also known as Adam’s Bridge is of religious as well as ecological importance. Some 30 Km long, it was supposed to be passable on foot till 15th century after which a storm deepened the channel.
How to reach Rameshwaram
By Air: Take a flight to Madurai Airport which is approx. 170 km away from Rameshwaram city and hail a cab from here.
By Train: The Rameshwaram Railway Station is directly connected to all major stations like Madurai, Chennai, Coimbatore, Thanjavur, & Trichy. Various kinds of trains such as superfast, express and mail trains ply from here.
By Road: A road trip to Rameshwaram would be nothing less than exciting and refreshing, given you’d be driving on the smoothest of roads over a long bridge. The city is well connected with major cities like Chennai, Madurai, Tiruchirappalli, & Thanjavur. One can also take a bus from Madurai which is 169 km away by road.
Famous temples in Rameshwaram
Sri Ramanathaswamy Temple
The Sri Ramanathaswamy Temple in Rameshwaram is renowned for the collection of Shivling it houses. The temple also happens to be one of the few temples in India that is built entirely in the Dravidian architectural style.
Temple Timings: 5 am to 1 pm, 3 pm to 9 pm
The temple is situated in Dhanushkodi in Rameshwaram and is surrounded by a beautiful beach. The temple is located on a site that is mentioned in the Ramayana: the resting spot for Lord Rama as he was marching to Lanka.
Temple Timings: 6.30 am to 10 am, 5.30 pm to 8.30 pm
The Panchamukhi Temple is known for housing the five-faced idol of Lord Rama. The place is considered very important to any ‘Bal Brahmachari’. The idol is carved entirely out of a one large Senthooram stone.
Temple Timings: 6 am to 7 am
The Dhanuskodi Temple is situated in the town of Dhanuskodi, close by to Rameshwaram. The temple now lies in a state of ruin but offers a beautiful view of the horizon.
Timings: 6 am to 6 pm
Nambu Nayaki Amman Temple
The Nambu Nayaki Amman Temple is located approximately 8 kilometres from the Ramanathaswamy Temple and is dedicated to the goddess Dakshina Kali. The temple was initially located in Dhanushkodi but, after the cyclone of 1964, it was shifted near the Ramanathaswamy Temple
Timings: 5.30 am to 6 pm
Gandhamadhana Parvatham Temple is located on a mountain near Rameshwaram. This mountain is said to be the place Rama sent Hanuman to get medicinal herbs required to save Laxman’s life. According to legend, Hanuman then carried the mountain to its current spot.
Timings: 6 am to 6 pm
Entry fee – Officially you have to just pay Rs.50/- for a person and walk to the 22 different wells inside the temple.Unofficially there are people who charge from 150 to 250 per head, they come along with you to all the wells and ensure that you get a bucket from each well. But trust me no need to take these people along with you as I was able to get water from each well without them. It would take maximum 2-3 min on each well and some of the wells you wont get any queue. But there is a very long queue for entering to the well hall. Now move to main temple,it also has a very big queue. But if you want to skip the queue there are people who will charge you 200-300 per head to get you darshan quickly.
No mobile phones – Dont take your mobiles with you as it is not allowed inside temple . Otherwise you have to pay for every single mobile phone to keep it at shop near the temple.
Steps to follow :
Avoid Festive days – Rameshwaram is one of the pilgrim place and famous temples. If there is any festival it is over crowded. You would spend most of your time in queue. Get there early as the day pass it gets crowded.
Places where you can get Prasadam- You get the prasadam inside the temple when you come out from the main darshan. You get the prasad outside the temple too.
Where to find Floating Stone – Rama is believed to have built a floating stone bridge, the Ramsetu bridge, that further continued to Dhanushkodi in Rameswaram till Talaimannar in Sri Lanka. You can find these stones in the city. But these famous floating stone is not at main temple. You can find them at Panchmukhi hanumantemple. They are kept in the jars, you can touch them. We were searching these stones but no one was able to guide us where we can find them.
Best place to have Food: You get plenty of south Indian food around Rameshwaram. But if you are searching for a north Indian food then Marwari Bhojanalayas is the one for you. It is near the temple.
Stay- There are lot of hotels near the temple but there is a one government affliated guest house near beach,I would recommend you to stay there.