Rameswaram known as the Varanasi of the south, Rameswaram is a major pilgrimage centre for both Shaivites and Vaishnavaites as it was here that Rama ( an incarnation of Vishnu in the Indian epic the Ramayana ) offered thanks to Siva. At the town's core is the Ramanathaswamy Temple, one of the most important temples in southern India. Rameswaram is on an island in the Gulf of Mannar, connected to the mainland at Mandapam by rail and by one of India's engineering wonders, the Indira Gandhi Bridge. The bridge took 14 years to build and was opened by Rajiv Gandhi late in 1988. The town lies on the island's eastern side and used to be the port from which the ferry to Talaimannar ( Sri Lanka ) departed before passenger services were suspended more than a decade ago. as a result, there are now very few foreign visitors.
According to the Hindu mythology i.e. the story of Ramayana Lord Rama performed thanksgiving rituals to Lord Rama after the battle at Sri Lanka and his triumph over the demon king Ravana. Owing to this Rameshwaram attracts Vaishnavites (worshippers of Lord Vishnu) and Saivites (worshippers of Lord Shiva) alike. Sri Lanka is at a distance of 24 kilometers from Rameshwaram. In fact the entire area of Rameshwaram is associated with various incidents from the Ramayana. Rameshwaram happens to one of the most visited pilgrim sites in India.
Pilgrimage Attaractions of Rameshwaram
Ramnathswamy temple was built in the 17th century. Situated close to the sea on the eastern side of the island, this temple is famous for its 1200 gigantic granite columns. The 54 metre tall gopuram (gate-tower), 1220 metres of magnificent corridors and the flamboyant columns embellish and render fame to the temple. The water in each of the 22 sacred wells in the temple tastes different.
100 metres away from the temple is Agnitheertham, where Rama worshipped Lord Shiva, to absolve himself from the killing Ravana.
The imprint of Lord Rama's feet placed on a Chakra (wheel) is found in this shrine which is at the highest point on the island at 2 km from Rameswaram.
Dhanushkodi named after Rama's bow, is at the eastern end of the island at a distance of 8 kms from Rameshwaram. The boulders around the sea between Srilanka and this place known as Adam's bridge, are believed to be used by Hanuman to reach across Srilanka. Dhhanushkodi was completely destroyed by the cyclones of 1964. Kothandaramaswamy temple is the only salvage of the cyclone. Idols of Rama, Sita, Lakshmana, Hanuman and Vibhishana (brother of Ravana), surrendered to Rama, here.
An important site for Muslim pilgrims, Erwadi houses the tomb of Ibrahim Sahid Aulia. At a distance of 24 kilometers from Rameshwaram is Erwadi. Muslims from across the globe visit Erwadi especially during the month of December to participate in the annual festival celebrated as a tribute to the saint.