Rameswaram tourismThe Holy abode of the Hindu God, Shri Ram (addressed so with all respect & humility) is a virtual paradise for the devout. No Hindu's journey is complete without a pilgrimage to both Varanasi and Rameswaram for the culmination of his quest for salvation and is hallowed by the epic 'Ramayana'. Folklore mentions about God Ram's presence in this land, after his 14-year exile.
Local legend has it that Shri Ram was helped back into Rameswaram and into India by his brother Lakshman and Hanuman along with his band of thousands of monkeys, after finally emerging victorious against the demon Ravana. They helped build a bridge with rocks from the sea and shores to cross the 'Sethu canal' and reach India . Lord Rama is also believed to have sanctified this place by worshipping and glorifying Lord Shiva and hence marks the confluence of Shaivism and Vaishnavism and is thus revered by both Shaivites and Vaishnavites alike and thus there is a strong belief that bathing in the 22 'Theerthams' or natural springs is a step forward in enlightenment. Therefore, Rameswaram has rightly been declared as one of the National Pilgrim Centres in the count.
The Ramanathaswamy temple by itself is a delight for every tourist. With its magnificent, imposing structure, long corridors, aesthetically carved pillars, the temple is adorned with a towering 38-metre 'Gopuram'. The temple itself was built by rulers since the 12th century with Sethupathy Maravar beginning the construction of the grand Ramanathaswamy temple that boasts of the 'Third Corridor', completed by his successor, Maravar the longest one in Asia with a 197-metre span from East to West and a 133-metre span from South to North, the third largest in the world! It is said that Swamy Vivekananda offered prayers at this temple in 1897. Another important fact is that two important Hindu schools of thought the Kanchi of Kamakodi Peetam and Bannari Amman owe allegiance to the deity at the Ramanathaswamy temple in Rameswaram. This has a tremendous impact on the religious sentiments of both the local people as well as devotees throughout the state of Tamil Nadu.
Further down, the geographical terrain and landscape naturally tapers slowly but sharply toward the end, converging and gently sinking into the sea at Dhanushkodi the country's tip in this part of the peninsular. This natural phenomenon has a lot of significance and most people revere the thought and hope to attain salvation as a culmination of their prayer, sacrifice and penance in this holy place. With this backdrop, it is proposed to construct a Yoga-cum-Meditation Centre at Rameswaram which any tourist can use to attain solace and discover oneself through the Vedic science of Yoga and meditation. This could also pave the way for the establishment of a Vedic College where all students could be imparted with knowledge and inputs on Hindu religion and mythology, the Vedas, Upanishads and the teachings of the Bhagavad Gita. Taking cues from the renowned Thirupathi Devasthalam, efforts may be initiated to project this temple with its strong and rich legacy and roots of Hinduism, being a National Pilgrim Centre. For instance, tourists may make advanced booking for Offerings at temples, on-line pooja, thereby reaching temples in the designated time (each temple has specific timings for 'dharshan' and special pujas).
The legend says that Hunuman was sent by Lord Rama to bring a Lingam to worship at an appointed auspicious hour. As Human's arrival was delayed, Sita moulded a lingam for Rama's timely worship. It is the main deity being worshiped as Ramanathaswamy. Disappointed Hunuman was later consoled by Rama by installing the Lingam which was brought by him a little north of Ramanatha, and decreed that the Hunuman's lingam should have precedence over the Ramanatha in all honours.
The calm shallow water-spread of the sea, present hardly 100 meters in front of the temple gopuram is considered as sacred. A dip in the Agnitheertham is considered to remove the sins of the pilgrims. The other theerthams (holy water tanks) in and around the temple are also important for Pilgrims.
Jadayu, King of the Birds, who fought in vain with Ravana, the demon to save Sita, is said to have fallen down here as his wings were severed. Sand dunes surround the temple and the pond. The water in the pond is as sweet as that of a tender coconut.
Villoondi literally translated stands for 'buried bow'. It is quite well known that Lord Ram always carried a bow. According to legend, at this sacred spot, located around 7 kilometers from the main temple on the way to Pamban, is this puranic place, significant because it was at this place where Lord Ram is said to have quenched the thirst of Sita by dipping the bow into the sea water. Even to this day, tourists throng this place to see where potable water is available within the vicinity of sea water.
Badrakali Amman Temple
A kilometer away from the main sanctum sanctorum is the Badrakali Amman Temple with Devi Durga as its chief deity. It is very popular among Devi Durga's worshippers hailing mainly from West Bengal & Kolkatta. This temple is en-route the Gandhamathana Parvatham.
A hillock situated 3 KMs to the north of the temple is the highest point in the island. There is a two storeyed Mandapam, where Rama's feet (Padam) is found as an imprint on a chakra. Pilgrims throng in thousands to worship Gandhamathana Parvatham. Sukreevar Temple and Theertham are situated on the way to Gandhamadana Parvatham.
The southernmost tip of the island is called Dhanushkodi. It was completely washed away by a cyclone in 1964. But the Kothandaramasamy Temple here remains intact. It is 18 KMs way from Rameswaram can be reached by road. A popular belief is that, it is where Vibishana a brother of Ravana surrendered before Rama. Dhanushkodi has a fine beach, where Sea surfing is possible.
SATCHI HANUMAN TEMPLE
This is where Hanuman said to have delivered the good news of sita's well being to Rama with an evidance choodamanai(Jewel) of Sita.
FIVE FACED HANUMAN TEMPLE
Hanuman is adorned with senthooram here. The stone said to have used to construct the floating bridge Sethu Bandanam could be seen here.
SEA WORLD AQUARIUM
Just opposite the Rameswaram Bus Stand, one can catch a quick glimpse of an assortment of underwater creatures in their near natural habitat in the 'Sea World Aquarium' the only one of its kind in the state, and probably in the country too, filled with such varied marine life forms including exotic species such as Octopus, Snake fish, Parrot fish, Sea lizard, Sea squid, Cow fish, Lion fish, Rabbit fish, Fire fish, Butter fish, Clown fish, Crabs, Lobsters, Prawns, Sea Lotus, Beach Tamet, Star Fishes, Sea Horses and Sharks. This is quite an eye-opener for young tourists & kids and lovers of marine life.
MANDAPAM & PAMBAN
Lying on the Ramanathapuram Rameswaram National Highway and just 19 kms before Rameswaram lies this sleepy coastal village of Mandapam . Prior to the 1914 train service linking the mainland with Rameswaram, boats were the only mode of transport to ship the pilgrims on their journey to Rameswaram. It is possible to take a boat for a cruise through the mangrove marshes to Kurusadai Island .
There is a possibility to convert this opportunity into a tourist attraction by providing small mechanized boats from Mandapam for both cruises as well as discovery of the coral reefs in neighbouring islands subject to non-pollution and destabilization of the fragile and precious marine ecosystem of this region.
Annai Indira Gandhi Bridge
The 2.2 km. length bridge connecting the Rameswaram Island and the mainland is the longest bridge in India constructed over a bay. It is also called as Pamban Bridge . Similarly the railway bridge connecting the island is noted for its unique opening to pass the ships through the sea.
Hotel Tamil Nadu and Youth Hostel Ph. 221277 Fax 221070 Rs.195/- to Rs.500/- Hotel Tamil Nadu Unit II Ph 221071. Hotel Maharaja Ph.221271. Hotel Venkatesh 221296. Hotel Island Star 221472. Hotel Ramanatha 221217. Hotel Guru 221134. Sandhya Lodge 221329. Hotel Chola 221307. Railway Retiring Rooms Ph.221226 Rs.150/- to 400/- Arulmigu Sri Ramanathasamy Temple. Devasthanam Cottages: Rs.40/- to Rs.400/- Ph.No.221223, 221292.
Gujarat Bhavan 221301. Baba Anna Chatram 2211021. Goswamy Mutt 221108. Bharath Sevashram 221215. Madhu Cottage.
Tourist Office, Bus Stand, Rameswaram. Ph: 221371.
Temple Information Centre (Inside Temple), East Side , Ramanathaswamy Temple, Rameswaram.