Saturday, 23 June 2012

A spiritual odyssey through South India (Part 4 – Rameshwaram: Where even Lord Rama stood still!!)


RameshwaramRameshwaram is an town of immense religious significance for hindus, located in Ramanathapuram district in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu. It is situated on Pamban Island separated from mainland India by the Pamban channel and is about 50 kilometres from Mannar IslandSri Lanka. Pamban Island, also known as Rameswaram Island, is connected to mainland India by the Pamban Bridge.
Rameshwaram, together with Kashi, it is considered to be one of the holiest places in India to Hindus, and part of the Char Dham pilgrimages. Hence, it is a bustling pilgrim centre.
The Madurai-Rameshwaram Passenger train crosses the Pamban bridgeWe took a taxi from Madurai to Rameshwaram and it took 3 hours to reach this place. The other options of reaching this destination here are local buses and rail.
LingaRameswaram is significant for many Indians as a pilgrimage to Benaras is considered by some to be incomplete without a pilgrimage to Rameswaram. The presiding deity here is usually referred to as a Lingawith the name Sri Ramanatha Swamy, it is one of the twelve Jyotirlingas. In order to attain Moksha it is believed that the visit to Rameshwaram is mandatory.
Ramewshwaram is closely associated with the hindu God Ram, who is said to have travelled here on his way and back from Sri Lanka to annihilate Ravana. According to hindu mythology, he is said to have stopped here and looking at the vast ocean, despaired how to cross over to Sri Lanka. He then built a bridge with the help of his army  of monkeys and crossed to Sri Lanka to vanquish Ravana and return to this very place victorious on his way back.
The important places of tourist attraction in Rameshwaram are:-
Ramanathaswamy Temple
Ramanathaswamy TempleRamanathaswamy Temple – This temple was built in the 17th century and is situated close to the sea on the eastern side of the island; this temple is famous for its 1200 gigantic granite columns.
Agniteertham - Place of Agni Pariksha of SitajiAgniteertham – At a distance of about 100 metres comes the Agnitheertham, where Rama worshipped Lord Shiva, to absolve himself from the killing Ravana.
Pamban Rail Scissors Bridge - connecting the island of Rameswaram to the mainland, this 2.06 km.Pamban Bridge – Pamban bridge is 3 kms long which connects the island of Rameshwaram Dhanuskodi to the mainland. This is the longest bridge in India and illustrates the marvel of the engineers. The bridge allowed meter gauge trains to run over it since 1911. The Department of Railways has planned to run broad guage trains over it and the works are going on. One can have a beautiful view of the sea while crossing through this bridge.
DhnuskodiDhnuskodiDhanuskodi – This is the easternmost tip of Rameshwaram. Most of this spot is occupied by the sea during tropical cyclones. On the way, the Kodandarama temple exists. The nearby places Tiruppullaani & Devipatnam also have legends associated with Ramayana.
Ram SetuSethu KaraiSethu Karai – This is a place 22 km before the island of Rameswaram from where Bhagwaan Ram is said to have built a Floating Stone Bridge (Rama sethu) from Rameswaram that further continued to Dhanushkodi in Rameswaram till Talaimannar in Sri Lanka as mentioned in the epic Ramayana.
It was 2 lovely days we spent in Rameshwaram visiting the various places of religious importance and then it was time for our next destination – Pondicherry!!
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