Small in terms of the area it covers but having a hallowed existence, Rameshwaram is a not-to-miss pilgrimage town located in Ramanathpuram District of Tamil Nadu. Separated from mainland India by the Pamban Channel, this tourist spot has been the centre of attraction for Hindu devotees across the world. A walk through the temples of Rameshwaram takes you to the days of the Ramayana and you would find enough evidences that will only reinforce your belief that there was once a man called Rama who walked on earth. Though the main attraction of this temple town is the great Ramanathaswamy Temple, one of the Char Dhams in India, yet its relatively clean sea beaches, lesser crowded temples and sacred ponds give another reason to the avid travellers to add Rameshwaram to their bucket list. However, Rameshwaram also turns out to be a hotspot for world travellers for its nearby weekend destinations as it is in close proximity to the famous destinations of South India like Pondicherry, Munnar, Kanyakumari and Madurai. Known for their picture-perfect landscape and religious significance, these travel destinations are a must-see during a trip to Rameshwaram. I am sure you are eagerly waiting for me to throw light on the attractions of Rameshwaram. So, without much ado let’s discuss about the places to visit in and around Rameshwaram in detail.
One of the twelve Jyotirlinga Temples dedicated to Lord Shiva, the temple of Ramanathaswamy is an architectural excellence built in the 17th century. A must visit pilgrimage for both the Vaishnavite as well as the Shaiva sect of Hinduism the temple constitutes a major part of the popular spiritual tourism destinations in India. The actual temple is believed to have been built by Lord Rama himself and thus it has gained an esteemed position in Indian mythological reference. Today’s Ramanathaswamy Temple houses the longest temple corridor in the world, which is 197 meters long and 133 meters broad and stands with 1200 massive granite columns.
Around 3.5km from Ramanathaswamy Temple, on the way to Dhanushkodi Village, Jada Tirtham is known among the Hindu devotees for the sacred pond. It is believed that when Rama was about to worship Shiva Lingam in Rameshwaram after killing Ravana, he washed his Jata (matted hair) in Jada Tirtham. There is a temple next to the pond of Jada Tirtham. Jada Tirtham is believed to be the only place in India where Lord Kapardisvara is worshipped.
Dhanushkodi or ‘end of the bow’ is a small town at the south-eastern tip of Pamban Island in Tamil Nadu. Lined with shallow beaches, historical remnants and vast horizons of azure sea, this South Indian tourist spot is a must-see in Rameshwaram. Today’s Dhanushkodi Temple is nothing but a ruin of the temple described in different versions of the Ramayana. In case you are curious enough to discover the plot of Ram Sethu, do not forget to explore Dhanushkodi.
Remember the mountain mentioned in the Ramayana from where Hanuman was about to fetch the medicinal herbs to save Laxman. Yes! It is Gandhamadana Parvatham which was carried by Lord Hanuman on his shoulders. This utterly pious and quaint religious spot is 3 km away from the centre of the town. A double storied temple of Lord Rama houses the imprints of his feet on a chakra. It is also considered to be the highest point in Rameshwaram, so you can have a birds’ eye view of the whole island from the peak.
Highly revered by the Hindus, the temple of Five Faced Hanuman is only 2 km from the Ramanathaswamy Temple. It is believed that Hanumana revealed his five-faced form for the first time in this place. The statue of Lord Hanuman is smeared with sindoor and worshipped with utmost devotion. The temple here enshrines the statues of Rama, Laxman and Sita. There is a floating stone in the temple which is believed to have been used during Sethu Bandhanam as mentioned in the Ramayana.
Adam’s Bridge or Rama Setu is a debatable historic bridge that connects Rameshwaram island of India to the north-western coast of Sri Lanka. It is a chain of limestone shoals starts from Dhanushkodi tip of India’s Pamban Island. Pamban Island is connected to mainland India by a 2 km long bridge.
A small South Indian shrine associated with many deep rooted beliefs, Nambu Nayagiamman Temple is only 8km from Ramanathaswamy Temple. Goddess Dakshina Kali is worshipped here for good health and getting kids. It is believed that the deity appeared in front of the two sages namely Dakshina Duruvan and Pachima Duruvan in the form of Dakshina Kali. After they were blessed with the sightings of Mother Goddess, they started living at the same place to cure the local people. That is why people of the neighbouring villages visit this temple to get solution to all their problems.
Well! Enough of religious sightseeing! I think I am making things clichéd by proving Rameshwaram as a solely religious spot. If you are here and want to explore something different other than the temples, do visit this bird sanctuary which is certainly different from the conventional sanctuaries. The best thing is you can see a lot of native as well as migratory water birds in this sanctuary. It is during the months of October to January when flocks of migratory birds fly to this land for breeding and feeding their off springs. The bird sanctuary is located in Ramanathapuram District and indeed one of the most popular tourist places in Rameshwaram.
An ideal place to spend a relaxing evening with your friends or family, Ariyaman Beach is located in Ramanathapuram District. It is a 150 m wide beach stretching to a length of 2 km. Tourists can enjoy boating in this beach or get involved in different water based sports like wind surfing or water scooter ride. The beach has a children’s park, an aquarium and a museum as well. Parasailing is an exciting activity one can enjoy here. If you have a free weekend, plan a picnic party along the beach side where arrays of Casuarina trees work for perfect shading.
An approximately 500 year old temple located at the southernmost tip of this island, Kothandaramaswamy Temple is yet another pilgrimage destination in Rameshwaram. The temple is very close to the sea and appears as an ideal place to trace the footprints of Rama. The temple here has the idols of Rama, Sita and Laxman along with Vibhishan. It is believed that Rama did the last rites of Pattabhishekam of Vibhishan in this place. The temple walls are scribled with the paintings depicting the same story.
Claimed to be the first sea bridge in India, Annai Indira Gandhi Road Bridge or Pamban Bridge is a cantilever bridge on Palk Strait that connects Rameshwaram Island with the mainland India. Initially, the name used to refer the rail route only which has a double leaf bascule section midway. This double leaf bascule functions well till date and it can be raised to let ships go. The bi-lane road passing next to this bridge is another attraction in Pamban and obviously allows you to have a glimpse of the railway bridge if you are driving over the bridge. This 100 years old bridge contains 143 pillars, each of which is 220 feet in length and 100 tonnes in weight.
A sacred pond dug near the temple of Laxmana, Lakshmana Tirtham is a divine place close to Ramanathswamy Temple. The temple of Laxmana contains several instances of Ramayana engraved on its walls. People coming to the temple for a visit often go for taking a dip in this pond.
Literally meaning the burried bow, Villondi Tirtham is a quaint religious destination where Lord Rama dipped his bow into the seawater to quench his consort Sita’s thirst. It is said that before burying the bow here Lord Rama shot an arrow into earth from where a stream of sweet water emerged to quench Sita’s thirst. There is a temple of Ekantha Ramar which is constructed on the same place where Lord Rama took rest before launching attack on Lanka.
The very name of the temple is enough to tell you about the significance of this shrine. It is a memorial sort of construction which was built in memory of the great loyal eagle of Ramayana called Jatayu who informed Rama about Ravana’s misdeeds and abduction of Sita. He sacrificed his life while fighting with Ravana to save Sita.
Apart from these major attractions, Rameshwaram encloses several lesser known destinations that you can add to your day outing list. Attractions like Saatchi Hanuman Temple, Agnitheertham are not to be missed as they are considered highly pious in Rameshwaram.
Photo Courtesy: Chandrashekran
Located at a distance of around 12km from Ramanathapuram, Thiruppullani is a small village known for the temple of Adi Jaganntha. Dedicated to Lord Vishnu, the temple has a five-tiered rajagopuram that stands facing east. The temple enshrines the idol of Lord Vishnu along with Sri Devi and Bhudevi. There is a separate shrine close to this temple, where the consort of (Adi Jagannath) Lord Vishnu, Padmasini Devi is worshipped. Another temple enshrined the statue of Lord Dharbasayana Ramar in a reclining posture.
How to Reach Rameshwaram
The city of Rameshwarm is connected with other famous South Indian cities by all means of transport. Chennai, the capital of Tamil Nadu is around 559km from Rameshwaram. To reach at Rameshwaram one needs to either fly to Chennai Airport or has to take train for Chennai Railway Station.
By Air: The nearest airport to Rameshwaram is at Madurai which is well connected to Chennai. Regular flights operate between Chennai and Madurai. From Madurai, you can hire a taxi to reach Rameshwaram.
|Spice Jet||8.30 AM||9.35AM||–WTFS-||1h5m|
By Train: To reach Rameshwaram via train one needs to reach Chennai. Four trains run from Chennai to Rameshwaram. Chennai Railway Station is a prominent railway station and is connected with almost major Indian cities.
|Bhubaneshwar Rameshwaram Express||9.20AM||11.55||Saturday|
|Varanasi rameswaram Express||10.50AM||1.15||Tuesday|
|Chennai Egmore Rameshwaram Express||5PM||4.45AM||All days of the week|
|Mas Rmm Exp||5.40 PM||8AM||Monday|
|Mas Rmm Exp||7.30 PM||8.45 AM||Thursday|
|Rameswaram Exp||9.40PM||11.45 AM||All days of the week|
By Road: Rameshwaram is connected to Chennai by road. Regular buses ply from Chennai to Rameshwaram. Volvo buses are available for tourists for a comfortable and relaxing journey. Also tourists can opt for government run buses which are available at a reasonable price.
Well! I am sure if you are hiring a private vehicle and do not mind travelling for whole day (obviously taking little break), you will be done with all the major sightseeing options of Rameshwaram within 2 to 3 days. So, in case you are left with a weekend or even a day or two, you can plan for an instant tour to the nearby travel destinations of Rameshwaram.
Madurai is only around 148 km from Rameshwaram. So, in case you feel like planning a short trip, it won’t be a bad idea to go to Madurai. Rightly called the temple city of South, Madurai’s central attraction is undoubtedly the great Meenakshi Devi Temple. Tourists must know that just like Varanasi, Madurai is also among the oldest cities in India. So, history buffs can get enough food for their taste bud in Madurai. The other sightseeing options of Madurai are Gandhi Memorial Museum, Tirumalai Nayak Palace, Pudhu Mandapa etc.
If you want to bag something more than spirituality from your trip to Rameshwaram, you should head to Thanjavur. Popularly known as Tanjore, this city is around 170 km from Rameshwaram and can be added to the list of weekend getaways from Rameshwarm. A significant number of Great Living Chola Temples are found in Thanjavur that are UNESCO World Heritage Site. So, if you are a lover of history and architecture, do not forget to visit the Brihadeshwara Temple, Marataha Palace and Rajarajachola Mandapam.
Thekkady is around 233km from Rameshwaram. And I would love to suggest you to make a trip to Thekkady simply for the fact that one of India’s most popular wildlife reserves Periyar National Park is located in this region of Idukki District. The major attraction of this national park is the huge population of tigers. If you go for a boat ride in this park, you would be certainly blessed with tiger spotting.
Located at a distance of around 294 km from Rameshwaram, Kanyakumari is a temple town in the southernmost tip of the Indian peninsula. The temples found at this South Indian travel destination are historically enriched and let you take a bath in spirituality. The significant attractions of this town are Vivekananda Rock Memorial, Thiruvalluvar Statue, and the temple of Devi Kumari Amman.
If you have heard of Munnar since childhood as an ideal nature retreat, plan for a weekend trip to this exotic travel destination. It is only around 262 km from Rameshwaram. All that you can will in Munnar is dark green hilly terrains and tea gardens set on the slopes of the mountains. Salubrious weather, easy to climb mountains and the friendly locals make Munnar a nature lover’s paradise.
An ancient French colony, dotted with magnificent heritage buildings, Tree-lined avenues and Mediterranean style houses, Pondicherry brings out the old world charm alive. Delectable cuisines, clean roads and above all the popular ashramas make Pondicherry a pick of the travellers of all taste. To the sightseeing options of Pondicherry, you can add Promenade Beach, Sri Aurobindo Ashram or Arikamedu. Do not forget to visit the ‘Matrimandir’. Pondicherry is around 300km from Rameshwaram.