A group of devotees walking through the colorful corridors of Ramanathaswamy Temple. The outer corridors are said to be the longest of any Hindu temple in India © CRS PHOTO
RAMESWARAM TEMPLE TOWN OF THE SOUTH
Some Images From Our Trip To Rameswaram
Most people strive to pay this sacred town at least one visit during their lifetime. Hundreds of Hindu pilgrims congregate here as it is deemed one of the holiest sites in the country, and no Varanasi pilgrimage is considered complete without a visit to Rameswaram.
The town sits on the most southern part of Pamban Island in Tamil Nadu State, with the Pamban channel separating it from the mainland, and with only a forty-kilometer strip of water separating it from Sri Lanka to the south. Rameswaram is steeped in legend; according to one version of the Ramayana, it is from this site that Lord Rama, assisted by the monkey army, Vanar Sena, built a floating stone bridge right across the sea to Lanka to rescue his wife Sita who was held captive by the demon-king Ravana.
Intriguing view through the ruins of a ghost town on Pamban Island towards Dhanushkodi Beach © Pro Naksha
Situated right in the heart of the town, is Ramanathaswamy Temple
, a most impressive building. Not only does it have the longest corridor of any Hindu temple in India, but the sculpted pillars that line the corridors are also intricately ornate. The detailed sculptures are of Nayak design, similar to those found in Meenakshi Amman Temple
in the ancient temple city of Madurai
. Its majestic main tower stands 53m tall. The building’s construction is ascribed to the twelfth century Pandya Dynasty but throughout the course of many centuries, various other rulers have contributed to the structure, including emperors from Sri Lanka, which adds to its rich historical and architectural value. This temple has been dedicated to the god Shiva, and forms one of the twelve Jyotirlinga
temples where Lord Shiva is revered as being a pillar of light, and therefore sacred to all Hindus. There are 22 Thirthas or holy water tanks at the temple, another reason why pilgrims are drawn to the site. Bathing in the waters is a cleansing ritual and purifies the sinner of his transgressions. Throughout the town, there are 42 more of these sacred water spots.
A minibus driving pilgrims on a unique route through the shallow sea to Dhanushkodi © AjayTvm
How to get there:
Drive to Rameswaram by car from Chennai, 550km away, or Bengaluru, 560km away. The roads are in good condition and the drive pleasant and enjoyable. The journey from Madurai lasts only three hours. Rameswaram forms part of a fourteen day-long South India Tour.
Where to stay: You will find plenty of budget accommodation options in the town.
When to go: As Tamil Nadu’s deep south can get blazing hot during the summer months, it is recommended to plan your visit for October through March when the weather is cooler and a lot more agreeable.
Tip: Just like other temple cities and towns, Rameswaram is abuzz with agents and tour guides. Avoid them and make your own way. You may be approached by priests who offer to perform small religious ceremonies or Puja inside the temple or on a beach; rather stay clear of them.
Spectacular drone shot of Pamban Bridge and road across a turquoise sea with boats floating near the beach © Pranavan Shoots
• Pause to offer prayers when you stroll down the magnificent, endless corridors in the temple. Then proceed to one of the holy water spots for a cleansing dip.
• Visit Pamban Bridge which links the island, by railroad, to mainland India. Then make your way to Adam’s Bridge to take a dekko. Limestone shoals form a chain to make this bridge which connects Pamban Island to the Sri Lankan island of Mannar.
• Drink in the sacred atmosphere and give yourself some much needed quiet time. The Brahma Meditation Center of Kumaris is the perfect place to find solitude, peace, and silence to meditate.
• Visit one of the picturesque, little fishing villages all along the coast. Stroll down the unspoiled beach and then sit down to a delicious fresh seafood meal.
• Take the five-hour drive to Kanyakumari, the southernmost point of the Indian peninsula, yet another small temple town and meeting place of three oceans.
Considered among the holiest of places, Rameshwaram lies on the southern coast, separated by the Channel of Pamban from Sri Lanka. Thousands of tourists take the train across the scenic Pamban sea bridge to the island © Rangeecha
Some Images From Our Trip To Rameswaram
Detail of Pamban Railway Bridge linking the island with Mandapam on the mainland © Shalender
The Ramanathaswamy Temple is known for its impressive architecture, which includes a grand corridor of sculpted pillars © Anil D
Many walls and ceilings inside Ramanathaswamy Temple are covered with brightly colored paintings © Anil D
Hindu pilgrims walk past an exquisitely decorated pillar in a corridor of Ramanathaswamy Temple © CRS PHOTO
A parade of pilgrims on their way to celebrate at Ramanathaswamy Temple dedicated to the god Shiva © CRS PHOTO
Hindu pilgrims at one of the twenty-two water tanks at Ramanathaswamy Temple. Bathing in one of these sacred tanks is considered an act of penance © CRS PHOTO
Pilgrims dressed in the white form a small procession. They are partaking in the religious ceremonies at Ramanathaswamy Temple, Rameshwaram © CRS PHOTO
Two Hindu pilgrims walking along the main street of Rameshwaram on their way to the temple. It is required to wash your hands at the gate before entering © CatherineLProd
A large flock of flamingos in their natural habitat near the abandoned town of Dhanushkodi © Dreame Walker
Beautiful view of the popular Dhanushkodi Beach where a thin stretch of road with the sea on both sides seem to go on forever © Pro Naksha
Long straight road seemingly disappears into the sea. On one side is the Bay of Bengal with the waters of the Indian Ocean on the other side, Dhanushkodi © MAHESWARAN KARTHIKEYAN
An Indian woman painting a kolam, using rice flour, on her doorstep. These signs are believed to bring prosperity to the residents of the house © Robert Fowler
Women in a fishing village on Pamban Island put fish out to dry in the sun © Denis. Vostrikov
Hundreds of devotees bathe themselves in the Arabian Sea before entering the temple grounds © Denis. Vostrikov
The palatial foyer of the luxury Arjunaa Hotel in Rameshwaram. The detailed ceiling reflects the beautiful designs on the windows © Rajeswaran Komathi Ramu
Sadhus pilgrims in their distinctive deep orange clothes. During this important pilgrimage, devotees bathe in the sea to cleanse themselves of transgressions © CatherineLProd
Spectacular sunset over Kushi Beach, Rameshwaram, Tamil Nadu © Pro Naksha
Two unidentified hijras, or transgender women in a Rameshwaram street. They prefer the title Kinnar, referring to mythological beings who excel at the song and dance © Svetlana Eremina