The Rameswaram Temple or Ramanathaswamy Temple is a renowned Hindu temple dedicated to the god Shiva. The temple attracts millions of devotees and pilgrims every year from all across the world and is of immense importance to Hindus.
Rameswaram means “Lord of Rama” in Sanskrit and is considered one of the holiest places for Hindus in India. It is located on Rameswaram or Pamban island in Tamil Nadu and is about 40 kilometers from Mannar Island, Sri Lanka
Significance of the Temple
The Rameswaram temple is one of the ‘Char Dham’ four pilgrimage sites every Hindu should visit during their lifetime as defined by Adi Shankaracharya. These four pilgrimage sites are located across the four corners of India: the Badrinath temple in the north, the Jagannath Temple at Puri in the east, the Dwarakadheesh Temple at Dwarka in the west, and the Ramanathaswamy Temple at Rameswaram in the south.
The Char Dham pilgrimage traditionally starts from the eastern end of Puri and proceeds in a clockwise direction, as followed for circumambulation in Hindu temples.
Ramanathaswamy Temple is also among the 275 Paadal Petra Sthalams in India, the places where Nayanars, revered Saivite saints like Appar, Sundarar and Tirugnana Sambandar sang hymns and songs of Shiva.
The Rameswaram temple is also counted amongst the 12 sacred Jyotirlingas of Lord Shiva.
According to the Hindu epic Ramayana, Lord Ram prayed to Lord Shiva here to absolve his sins of killing the demon-king Ravana who was also a Brahmin and a great scholar.
The temple has two lingams, Ramalingam the one built with sand by Devi Sita herself and worshipped by Lord Ram, and Viswalingam the one brought by Lord Hanuman from Kailasha.
Read More: 22 Incredible Ancient Temples In India
History of Rameswaram Temple
The construction of the temple has been contributed by several rulers over the centuries. The Pandya dynasty in the 12 century made expansions of the temple. The construction of the temple is said to be sanctioned by King Kizhavan Sethupathi or Raghunatha Kilavan.
The Jaffna kings of the Pandya Dynasty, King Jeyaveera Cinkaiariyan, and his successor Gunaveera Cinkaiariyan are some of the notable contributors to the construction of the temple.
The present structure of the temple is believed to have been built in the 17th century. The pride of place in the establishment of the Temple goes to the Setupatis of Ramanathapuram.
The Ramanathaswamy Temple was constructed in the Dravidian style of architecture. The temple is enclosed by a tall compound wall (madil) on all sides and is made of limestone and granite.
The wall measures approximately 865 feet from east to west and 657 feet from north to south. The Gopurams (towers), enhance the eastern and western entrances, while finished gate towers grace the northern and southern entrances.
The temple premises have 22 tirthas (holy water bodies) where devotees take holy dips. Bathing in these Tīrthas is a major aspect of the pilgrimage to Rameswaram and is considered equivalent to penance.
The Rameswaram temple has a long set of corridors and the total length of these corridors is thus 3850 feet. The outer corridor of the temple is lined with 1212 carved pillars each with a height of 30 feet and unique compositions.
There are five main halls in the temple premises, namely- Sukravara Mandapam, Anuppu Mandapam, Setupati Mandapam, Nandi Mandapam, and Kalyana Mandapam.
Temple Timings: 5:00 am to 1:00 pm and 3:00 pm to 9:00 pm.
How to Reach
Rameswaram is well connected by roads to other cities of Tamil Nadu. Regular buses ply from Chennai, Kanyakumari, Madurai, Trichy, and other cities to Rameswaram.
Trains from Chennai, Madurai, Coimbatore, Trichy, Thanjavur, Palakkad, and Bengaluru halt at the Rameswaram railway station.
Rameswaram does not have an airport, the nearest airport is Madurai from where taxis or cabs can be hired directly.
Facts about the Rameswaram Temple
- The Rameswaram temple has the longest corridor among all Hindu temples in India. It was built by King Muthuramalinga Sethupathiy.
- The third corridor of the temple has 1200 pillars standing all of which are 22 feet high.
- All the 22 tirthas in the temple premises have unique tastes, temperatures, and salinity.
- These tirthas are believed to have been dug by Lord Rama when he fired his arrows piercing the sand.