Rameswaram, The Most Important Pilgrim Center of India
Rameswaram, in Tamil Nadu, India is the most important pilgrim center for the Hindu people. It's a small island lying between Srilanka and India in Gulf of Mannar of Bay of Bengal and recently built road bridge has made it more popular. On those days the train was only the mode of transport to reach the island. This place is also called as 'Banares of South'. There is a belief among the Hindu people that pilgrimage to Banares will be complete only after a visit to Rameswaram. It's also the abode of 12 Jyothir Lingams. It has a great historical importance where Lord Rama, the Hero of Hindu epic Ramayan, prayed Lord Shiva while He was on the mission of subduing the demon Ravan and saving His consort Devi Seetha who was imprisoned at Srilanka by the demon. It is from here Lord Rama with the help of Lord Anajaneya and others said to have constructed mythological bridge to Srilanka.
As Lord Rama, the God of Vaishnavites, once worshipped here Lord Shiva, the God of Saivites, both groups of people consider this place as the most sacred one. In Hinduism, Rameswaram is said as 'place for pariharam' where one can absolve all his sins. Rameswaram is the large fishing harbour of India from where large amount of fish is exported to various countries. Fishes like Prawn, Sea Cucumber are processed here for the export. Dried fishes are aslo largely produced in and around Rameswaram. The waters around the sea is not only rich in variety of fish but also in coral reef.
Pamban Road Bridge
Pamban Cantilever Railway Bridge
Rameswaram is also famous for its two bridges that have been built to connect the island with mainland. The two bidges are lying parallel and between the two places Mandapam, in mainland and Pamban, at the entrance of the island. The previously built cantilever railway bridge(2.1 km long) is 90 years old and small ships can be passed across the bridge when the lever of bridge is kept opened. Pamaban road bridge was inaugurated in 1988. It looks like a bow over the sea and allows small ships to pass beneath it with a total number of 79 pillars and 64 of which have been built in the sea. It has a total length of 2.34 km and clearance of 24.4 m
Places of attraction in and around Rameswaram
Ramanathaswamy Temple, Agni Theertham, Shri Rama's Foot, Dhanushkodi and Kurusadai are some places of attraction in and around Rameswaram.
The temple is situated at the eastern side of the island and just 100 m to reach the seashore from the temple. It's famous for the longest corridors, 197 m long east-west and 133 m long north-south with massive sculptured pillars lining it. The tower facing east is 38.4 m high. The temple dates back 12th century A.D which was built and improved by the different rulers of the age. The total length of the temple is 264 m and breadth is 200 m. The prime deity here is Lord Shiva and He is in the form of 'Shiva Lingam'. It's also famous for various sacred waters(Theerthams) which are found in and around temple. Devotees who come here used to take bathe in 36 different sacred waters to obtain merit for the souls of dear departed ones and wash away their own sins. We can find many people around the campus of the temple who help to take bathe in those sacred waters. They usually charge about Rs 100/- per head for getting bathed.
It's nothing but seashore lying infront of the temple. The sea is very calm and therefore ideal for taking bath. The water at his point is said to be sacred and called as Agni Theertham. Pilgrims usually take bath here and perform poojas in honour of their ancestors
Shri Rama's Foot
This is about 3 km away from Rameswaram where we can worship Shri Foot of Lord Rama. This is an unique point where the temple is situated in an optimum elevation. Besides God's grace we can also get the chance of enjoying beautiful scenaries of the island. From the temple we can see the sea which is around 2 km to reach and various trees and greens of the island that can be viewed from there add the beauty to the point.
It's the southern most end of the island and about 2 km away from the railway station which was badly hit by the severe cyclone in the year 1964 when thousands of people were killed by the invaded sea. The water found in this place is called as Sethu Theertham. In legend it is said that Vibheeshnan, the brother of the demon Ravan, surrendered before Lord Rama at this spot. We can also see a temple for 'Koothandavar' here. The idols of Lord Rama, Devi Seetha, Lord Laxman and Lord Anjaneya are also found here.
The island lies between mainland and Rameswaram island on the eastern side of the Pamban bridge which is a paradise for biologists who research about marine living beings. Scholars from far and near come to this area throughout the year for the research and study. We need to travel about 20 km both in land and water to reach here. There are many number of other islands near Kurusadai. One can approach fisheries Department to get an idea of getting there.
Rameswaram is well connected to all the major towns and cities of Tamil Nadu and other parts of the country by road. The nearest railway junction is Madurai and Ramanathapuram. The nearest airports are Madurai, Coimbatore and Trichy.