After spending 3 days in Kanyakumari, it was time to travel to Rameshwaram on Pamban Island. I had advance booked our train tickets because there is only one train between Kanyakumari and Rameshwaram. Our train started from Kanyakumari at night and we reached Rameshwaram next morning.
Rameshwaram’s railway station is small because few trains arrive and depart from here. I had done an advance booking at Tamilnadu tourism’s hotel. While we were looking for autorickshaw at railway station some people approached and offered us different hotels. This kind of behavior is very common in any touristy place and simply ignores them. Our hotel was few minutes walking distance from Ramanathaswamy Temple and Agni Theertham, so very convenient.
We decided to go to Dhanushkodi on the first day and booked a Jeep from our hotel. Later on, I found that the jeep cost us around 20% more in comparison to the market price. It is advisable to book the Jeep from the market area as there are many options available. We went to Dhanushkodi after breakfast and had an amazing experience. There was no traffic on the road once we crossed the Rameshwaram town. The last 8-9 Km we drove on the beach and it was amazing with the sea on our one side. It was very peaceful and serene. More details about Dhanushkodi are available here.
While coming back, we stopped at the Kothandaramaswamy Temple. It is believed to be the place where Vibhishana, the younger brother of Ravana asked refugee to Lord Rama. It is said that after the slaying of Ravana, Rama performed the coronation ceremony of Vibhishana as king of Lanka at this place. We returned to Rameshwaram after spending few hours In Dhanushkodi. My parents were tired and they wanted to rest during the afternoon but I decided to explore the places around. I went to the temple of Rama called Gandhamadhana Parvatam temple, which is located on top of a hillock. Temple is around 3 Km from Ramanathaswamy temple and it is considered as the highest point in Rameshwaram. The temple her is small and despite being at the highest point there is nothing special about the view.
I came back to hotel area and went for the boat ride in the sea. The jetty was in front of our hotel and there was a boat every 40 minutes. I bought a ticket for the boat ride. The boat takes a big loop in the sea around Rameshwaram seashore. It crossed close to the Agnee Tirtham and the beach area on the other side of town. I must say that it was one of the best things I did in Rameshwaram. The sun was harsh even in winters but the boat was covered and the cool breeze from the sea made it a pleasant ride.
Same day evening we spoke to a pandit for darshan in Ramanathaswamy temple next morning. He told us to come around 5.15 AM next morning.
Ramanathaswamy temple is popularly called seashore temple because it was built near shore but now there is a bazaar with shops between the temple and the seashore. The Ramanathaswamy Temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva and is the historic landmark of the town. This temple is one of the 12 Jyotirlinga shrines, where Shiva is worshipped in the form of a Jyotirlinga meaning “pillar of light”.
It is said that Rameshwaram is the place from where Lord Rama built a bridge across the sea to Lanka to rescue his wife Sita from king Ravana. According to mythology, the Ramanathaswamy Temple was built where Lord Rama made the Shivalingam and prayed to Lord Shiva before going to war with mighty king Ravana. This temple is considered a holy pilgrimage site for both Shaivas and Vaishnavas sect in Hinduism.
We called and met our “Pandit” at the designated place. He explained to us that there are two types of Shivalings in the temple. One is Spatic Shivaling and which is kept in the main sanctum for darshan between 4 to 6 AM only. The main Shivaling opens for darshan from 6 AM onwards. He told us that one should do darshan of Spatic Shivaling without taking bath. After the darshan of this Shiva Lingam take bath in Agni Theeratham Sea and 22 wells in the temple. The darshan of main Shiva lingam is done after this bathing ritual.
There were two types of tickets for darshan and bath in wells, one was normal and another was VIP ticket. With VIP ticket, one doesn’t need to wait in queues. We bought VIP ticket and also hired a temple guide. He took us first to Agnee Tirtham for a dip and then to 22 wells one by one. All the wells marked with a number so that you don’t miss any well. At all wells, there was a man with a bucket. This person was taking out water and pouring on everyone. Some of the devotees were offering money to these men and he was pouring water on them properly. For us, it was very convenient with the help of our guide. Infect, we carried a vessel and filled it with the water from all the 22 wells. After the bath, we went to the small cabins in one corridor to change the wet cloth because the entry in the main sanctum is not allowed in wet cloths. We had our darshan and came out.
The main attraction in terms of vision is the corridors around the main sanctum. These are beautifully painted corridors with pillars and give this temple a unique identity. Rameshwaram is considered to be one of the holiest places in India to Hindus and part of the Char Dham pilgrimage.
There are sixty-four Theerthams (holy water bodies) in and around Rameswaram. According to the Skanda Purana, twenty-four of them are important. Bathing in these tanks is a major aspect of the pilgrimage to Rameswaram and is considered equivalent to penance. Twenty-two of these tanks are within the Ramanathaswamy Temple. The foremost one is called Agni Theertham, the sea near the temple.
After breakfast, we went to see Panchmukhi Hanuman temple. Here is a statue of Lord Hanuman with 5 mouths that’s how the name Panchmukhi. There are floating stones also in this temple, which were believed to be used by Lord Rama to build the bridge on the sea.
We had taken an evening train from Rameshwaram to Chennai. Rameswaram Island is also known as Pamban Island, it is separated from mainland India by the Pamban channel. Rameshwaram is connected to mainland India by the Pamban Railway Bridge and Annai Indira Gandhi Road Bridge.
The Pamban Railway Bridge is considered as a marvel of engineering and is on the list of top ten dangerous railways in the world. When the train crosses the Pamban Bridge, it slows downs. I was standing near the gate of my compartment while the train was crossing the bridge and it was a spectacular feeling with the sea on both sides. It felt as the train was gliding in the air over the sea.
Rameshwaram Railway station is small as there are few trains to it every day.
We have booked tickets in an overnight train from Rameshwaram to Chennai as we had flight for Delhi from Chennai.
Chennai is the capital of Tamilnadu and there are so many things to do. For more details check Things to do in Chennai.
Few things to know about Rameshwaram –
* It is connected to railway network and there are direct trains from Madurai, Chennai, and Kanyakumari.
* The nearest airport of Madurai is 170 Km.
* It is advisable to visit Dhanushkodi during the day because there is no proper Mobile connectivity.
* It is a holy town and that’s why you will get mainly vegetarian food.
* Walking is the best way to explore, if don’t want to walk then Autorickshaw is the most economical way to travel in town.
* Rameshwaram is about 40 kilometers from Mannar Island, Sri Lanka.