Rameshwaram,Tamil Nadu - place to go in India

The Char Dham, is the four most famous Hindu pilgrimage circuit in India which are believed to be the abodes of Hindu gods. Located in the four directions of India, the circuit consists of four sites – to the north is Badrinath, to the west is Dwarka, to the south is Rameshwaram and to the east is Puri. Rameshwaram is one of the Char Dhams of India.

Rameswaram, (also spelt as Ramesvaram, Rameshwaram or Ramisseram) is a town and a second grade municipality in the Ramanathapuram district in the South Indian state of Tamil Nadu. It is located on Pamban Island separated from mainland India by the Pamban channel and is about 50 kilometres from Mannar Island, Sri Lanka. It is situated in the Gulf of Mannar, at the very tip of the Indian peninsula. Pamban Island, also known as Rameswaram Island, is connected to mainland India by the Pamban Bridge. Rameswaram is the terminus of the railway line from Chennai and Madurai. Together with Varanasi, it is considered to be one of the holiest places in India to Hindus, and part of the Char Dham pilgrimage.

According to Hindu mythology, this is the place from where the Hindu god Rama built a bridge, across the sea to Lanka to rescue his wife Sita from her abductor Ravana. The Ramanathaswamy Temple dedicated to the Hindu god Shiva is located at the centre of the town and is closely associated with Rama. The temple along with the town is considered a holy pilgrimage site for both Shaivites and Vaishnavites.

Rameswaram is the closest point to reach Sri Lanka and geological evidence suggests that the Adam’s Bridge was a former land connection between India and Sri Lanka. The town is in news over alleged attack by Sri Lankan navy for alleged cross border activities by fishermen, Sethusamudram Shipping Canal Project, Kachchatheevu and Sri Lankan Tamil refugees. Rameswaram is administered by a municipality established in 1994. The town covers an area of 53 km2 and had a population of 44,856 as of 2011. Tourism and fishery employ the majority of workforce in Rameswaram.

Rameswara means “Lord of Rama” in Sanskrit, an epithet of Shiva, the presiding deity of the Ramanathaswamy Temple. According to Hindu epic Ramayana, Rama, the seventh avatar of the god Vishnu, prayed to Shiva here to absolve any sins that he might have committed during his war against the demon-king Ravana in Sri Lanka. According to the Puranas (Hindu scriptures), upon the advice of sages, Rama along with his wife Sita and his brother Lakshmana, installed and worshipped the lingam (an iconic symbol of Shiva) here to expiate the sin of Brahmahatya incurred while killing of the Brahmin Ravana. To worship Shiva, Rama wanted to have the largest lingam and directed his monkey lieutenant Hanuman to bring it from Himalayas. Since it took longer to bring the lingam, Sita built a small lingam, which is believed to be the one in the sanctum of the temple This account is not supported by the original Ramayana authored by Valmiki, nor in the Tamil version of the Ramayana authored by Tamil poet, Kambar (1180–1250 CE). Support for this account is found in some of the later versions of the Ramayana, such as the one penned by Tulasidas (15th century). Sethu Karai is a place 22 km before the island of Rameswaram from where Rama is believed to have built a floating stone bridge, the Adam’s bridge, that further continued to Dhanushkodi in Rameswaram till Talaimannar in Sri Lanka. According to another version, as quoted in Adhyarma Ramayana, Rama installed the lingam before the construction of the bridge to Lanka.

Rameshwaram is a town in Ramanathapuram district in the state of Tamil Nadu. It is located on an island separated from mainland by the Pamban channel and is less than 40 kilometers from the Jaffna Peninsula of Sri Lanka.

According to legends the lingam built on Rama’s return from Lanka after slaying Ravana. Ravana was a Brahmin and it was a sin to kill him even in war. Hence Rama decided to atone for this sin at the place from where he began his battle march. Hanuman was dispatched to Varanasi to bring the image of the lingam from the Kashi temple there. However he was delayed and the auspicious moment was about to pass. Therefore Sita built a lingam of sand and the prayers were conducted. This lingam is referred to as Ramalingam. When Hanuman returned with the lingam from Varanasi he was peeved to find that the prayers were completed. To placate him Sita also installed the Kashilingam and decreed that this lingam should be worshipped before the Ramalinga. At Rameshwaram the famous temple is Rameshwaram Temple and the presiding deity here is in the form of a Linga with the name Sri Ramanatha Swamy.

Best time to visit: October to April.

Thus, pilgrims visit all these places in aspiration of washing away their sins and to attain salvation, by the blessings of the Lord. Giving the visitors a perfect opportunity to unwind themselves by filling their lungs with fresh air. Moreover, these otherwise silent and tranquil locales resound with the names of the Lord as the pilgrims advance towards their destination.