Rameshwaram Travel Guide – Visit Tamil Nadu’s Holy Town (2021)
Rameshwaram Travel Guide – Visit Tamil Nadu’s Holy Town
Rameshwaram is one of the holiest places in Tamil Nadu. Located in the sea region of the Gulf of Mannar Biosphere Reserves, Rameshwaram is a small town, but it stands firm and proud in between India and Sri Lanka. It is a famous island city and has been the center of attraction for tourists from all over the world. Being one of the sacred Char Dhams of India, Rameshwaram is a well-known religious spot for Hindu devotees.
Picture clean sea breezes, clean beaches with crystal clear water, sacred ponds, and the divine temples – this is what the town of Rameshwaram, Tamil Nadu’s holiest place has to offer. Here’s everything you need to know about visiting this beautiful holy town.
Best Places to Visit in Rameshwaram
1. Rameshwaram Temple or Sri Ramanathaswamy Temple
Well, of course, a visit to the holy city of Rameshwaram is primarily to visit the beautiful Rameshwaram Temple, or as it is also known as – the Ramanathaswamy Temple, as it boasts of having the second-longest corridor of the world with immaculate carvings on the pillars. This temple is one of the most mind-boggling examples of ancient Indian architecture. Built in the Dravidian style of architecture, similar to most of the other temples in Tamil Nadu, the temple is famous for the collection of numerous Shiva Lingas, which were built from sand, salt, stone, and several other elements.
The Rameshwara Temple is also one of the 12 Jyotirlinga temples of India. According to legends, there were said to be 112 ponds inside the temple complex, out of which only 12 are now left. The Rameshwaram Temple is the most popular spot in the city. If you are visiting Rameshwaram just for one day, a visit to this temple should be a must, if not to pay your obeisance to Lord Shiva, and simply take in the beautiful architecture of this temple.
The temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva, and it is believed that the original Shiva Lingam in the temple was actually installed by Lord Rama himself. However, the construction of the actual temple has been carried out by several kings from various dynasties over the centuries.
There are two major Shiva Lingams inside the temple – one is known as Ramalingam, and the other is Shivalingam. The Ramalingam is worshipped first every day. Apart from the daily poojas and Abhishekams that are performed, the temple witnesses a major rush during the time of the Mahashivratri festival. If you are a tourist, it is recommended to avoid visiting Rameshwaram during those peak times as it becomes difficult to even find a room in any hotel as Shiva devotees from all over the world flock here to seek the blessings of Lord Shiva.
2. Kothandaramaswamy Temple
Located in Dhanushkodi, the Kothandaramaswamy temple is an excellent spot for those who are archaeological and history buffs. This is because the temple is situated along the shallow beaches and historical ruins. You can stare into the vast horizons of the majestic sea as you walk through the ruins of the temple described in great detail in the epic Ramayana.
This shrine is dedicated to Lord Rama. It is said that the revered Saint Vivekananda visited this temple before he left on this tour of Chicago, which was an important historic event in itself.
The Kothandaramaswamy Temple is believed to be over 1000 years old. The temple is also famous for having withstood the great cyclone of 1964, which ruined the entire town of Dhanushkodi. The temple was one of the only surviving structure in the city. At the same time, nearly all the other buildings in the city were devastated by the cyclone, thus turning this religious town into a collection of ruins you see today.
Even today, you can see that the walls of the temple have carvings of captivating paintings that represent various scenes from the Ramayana. The history of the temple itself is also depicted on the walls. Throughout the temple, images of Lord Rama, Lord Lakshmana, Goddess Sita, Lord Hanuman, and Vibhishana can be seen.
Surrounded by the azure sea, the Kothandaramaswamy Temple is even today a beautifully haunting tourist attraction that you cannot miss when you visit Rameshwaram.
3. Lakshmana Tirtham
Lakshmana Tirtham is another sacred spot to visit in Rameshwaram. It is located just a stone’s throw away from the Rameshwaram Temple, so it’s a good idea to see Lakshmana Tirtham on the same day. Lakshmana Tirtham is close to Sita Tirtham, Rama Tirtham, and the Panchmukhi Hanuman Temple as well.
Lakshmana Tirtham is one of the 64 holy tirthams in Rameshwaram, out of which 22 are located within the complex of the Rameshwaram Temple itself.
This spot is famous as a sacred pond near a temple dedicated to Lakshmana, and people who visit this temple, often like to take a dip in this pond. The temple is also a wonderful spot to visit, as it has marble statues of Lord Lakshmana. The exquisite carvings inside the temple are a representation of the immense devotion Lord Lakshmana had towards Lord Rama and Goddess Sita.
Legend has it that Lord Lakshmana had installed a Shiva Lingam and offered prayers to Lord Shiva at the Lakshmana Tirtham, and before worshipping, he had taken a bath in the pond located here.
4. Villoondi Tirtham
Also known as the place of the buried bow, this spot should also make it to your list of places to see in Rameshwaram. The legend attached to this place says that Lord Rama dipped his bow in the land at this place itself to take out water for Goddess Sita when she was thirsty.
If you wish to explore this area further, then you can also pay a visit to the famous temple of Ekantha Ramar, which is located nearby.
5. Ariyaman Beach
Even though Rameshwaram is known as the holy town, being a coastal town, there are many beautiful beaches here. The Ariyaman or Kushi Beach is known for its astounding length and width. The gentle waves and amazing cleanliness with which this beach is maintained makes it a perfect place for taking a break from all the temple-hopping in Rameshwaram.
How To Reach Rameshwaram?
Rameshwaram is easily accessible by road, air, and train.
By Air: The closest airport is situated at Madurai, which is around 175 km from Rameshwaram. You can easily get pre-paid taxis from the airport to reach the temple city.
By Road: Being a popular tourist and pilgrimage destination, Rameshwaram is well-connected by roads to all the other major cities of Tamil Nadu. The Tamil Nadu Road Transport Corporation plies regular buses from Kanyakumari, Chennai, Trichy, Madurai, and other cities to Rameshwaram. If you want to visit the holy town of Tirupati in Andhra at the same time, then you are lucky as the Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu State Road Transport Corporations have regular buses that ply daily between Tirupati and Rameshwaram.
By Train: Rameshwaram has its own railway station, which is a major railhead. Trains from all over Tamil Nadu and other major cities of India halt at this train station, and you can hail a cab from the station to your hotel. There are daily trains running from Madurai, Chennai, Trichy, Coimbatore, Palakkad, Bengaluru, Thanjavur, and other nearby cities.
Best Time to Visit Rameshwaram
The ideal time to visit Rameshwaram in Tamil Nadu is from October to April when the humidity is on the lower side. To truly visit this temple city, it is best to spend at least two days here. Remember, if you come during the time of local festivals, then be prepared that there will be a massive crowd at the Rameshwaram Temple, and it might take a good amount of time to even get inside the temple premises.