Detailed Guide to Rameshwaram | All You Need to Know Before Visiting
Rameshwaram is one of the holiest places for Hindus and a part of the Char Dham yatra propagated by Adi Shankaracharya. It is believed that undertaking this yatra opens the door to salvation and washes away one’s sins. Rameshwaram is the only Shaiva shrine, with the remaining four dedicated to Lord Vishnu. If you plan to visit this island city, here’s a detailed guide to Rameshwaram.
Why is Rameshwaram Significant?
The name Rameshwaram literally means Lord of Rama, referring to Lord Shiva. It is believed that Lord Rama visited the place before leaving for Sri Lanka to rescue Sita and prayed to Lord Shiva after returning victoriously to absolve himself from the sin of killing Ravana, a Brahmin. Since Lord Rama wanted a lingam for the puja, he instructed Lord Hanuman to bring one from Kailash. Since he couldn’t reach on time, Rama made one using the sand on the shores. The linga brought by Hanuman was consecrated beside this and is called Vishwalinga.
What are The Places to Visit in Rameshwaram?
Here’s a list of some of the places you must visit in Rameshwaram:
The Ramanathaswamy Temple is one of the four sacred temples mentioned in the Char Dham yatra. The temple is spread over 15 acres and is famous for its huge corridors, including one with over 4,000 pillars and one of the world’s longest corridors. Although the temple is believed to be over 1,500 years old, the temple was extended around the 12th century by the Pandavas. It has been rebuilt and renovated over the years, the latest being in the 18th century by the Ramanathapuram Sethupathys.
24 Holy Wells Or Theerthams
A visit to Rameshwaram is incomplete without a holy dip in the 24 theerthams. Of these, 22 are inside the temple, while the remaining 2 are outside. Pilgrims must begin with the Mahalakshmi Theertham and end with the Kodi Theertham, the most sacred of all. The Agni Theertham is located outside the temple on the beach, i.e., east of the Ramanathaswamy Temple, and the Sethu Theertham is situated in Dhanushkodi.
It is believed that Lord Rama built a bridge here to reach Sri Lanka. The Ram Sethu or Adam’s Bridge is visible from the air, showing a linear sequence of coral reefs connecting the island to Talaimannar, a settlement in Mannar Island in Sri Lanka. The Ramanathaswamy Temple records indicate that a bridge existed in this place until the 15th century. Scientists have dated some of the floating stones on this causeway to be at least 7000 years old, almost the same age around when the story of Ramayana is set.
The term Dhanushkodi translates into bow end. This deserted island was once home to hundreds of families until 1964, when a severe cyclone killed almost everyone, causing the Indian government to declare the place uninhabitable. Here, you can find glimpses of life that once existed in the village, including a dilapidated church, the Kothandaramaswamy Temple, and an old post office.
Dr. Abdul Kalam’s House
It is well known that Dr. Abdul Kalam grew up in Rameshwaram. Today, his house is converted into a memorial honouring the erstwhile President. The home is located on Mosque Street and is maintained by Dr. Kalam’s elder brother.
When to Visit
Rameshwaram, being a tropical island, can be visited all year long. But October to January are pleasant thanks to the Northeast monsoon rains that cool the place.
Best Restaurants in Rameshwaram
While there are plenty of restaurants attached to the many hotels in Rameshwaram, only some stand out in terms of local cuisine. The Curry is one of the best restaurants in Rameshwaram, specialising in Indian and international cuisine. If you’re a fan of non-vegetarian food, don’t forget to sample some of the local rawther cuisine sold at street shops. Delicacies include botti curry, thala curry, and biryani.