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Rameshwaram Tourism

chersonese sanctified both by Ram and Shiva
State : Tamil Nadu
District: Ramanathapuram
Type of Tourism : Pilgrimage
Area : 61.8 square km
Population : 32,224 (As per Indian census- 2001)
Altitude : 10 meters
Best Tourist Season : January to March
Clothing recommended : Light Cotton in summer, Woolen in winter
Languages spoken : Tamil, English, Hindi
Telephone Code : India (04573), International (+91)
Pin Code : 623526
What to buy : Showpieces, Wall-Hangings, Mirrors, Curtains, Ornaments and Handicrafts Made From Seashells, Beads, Palm Leafs, Conches, Corals, Bead Jewellery, Statues, Khadi Clothes, Stoles, Rameshwaram Silk & Kanjiveeraum Saris, etc.
Food Specialties : Rice, Sambar, Rasam, Dry Curry, Kootu, Thayir (Curd), Moru (Buttermilk), Pongal, Idli, Dosai, Uthappams, Vadai, Bajjis, Chapati, Sea Food, Besan Laddoos at Gujarat Bhavan, etc.
Other Activities : Glass Boat Riding at Pamban Bridge, Boating in the Ocean near the Rameshwaram Temple and other beaches, Scuba Diving, Bird Watching,
Local transportation : City Buses, Auto Rickshaws, On Foot

About Rameshwaram

The holy abode of Lord Shiva and the sacred land of pilgrimage, Rameshwaram is a small town of Ramanathapuram District in the state of Tamil Nadu. Nestled on the conch shaped Pamban Island that is separated from the mainland India by the Pamban Channel, Rameshwaram is positioned at the very tip of the Indian Peninsula, just 50 km away from the Mannar Island of Sri Lanka. Pamban Island, also known by the title ‘Rameshwaram Island’ is linked to the mainland by the celebrated Pamban Bridge (Annai Indira Gandhi Bridge). Venerated as ‘Varanasi of South’, Rameshwaram is also acknowledged as one of the Dhams of the Char Dham pilgrimage of India. It is believed by the Hindus that if you pay homage at the Char Dhams (four holy places; Badrinath, Dwarka, Puri and Rameshwaram) you attain the state of Moksha, i.e. complete salvation from the cycle of birth and death. Rameshwaram, an extremely revered destination of Hindus is equally treasured amongst the Shaivites as well as the Vaishnavites. The presiding deity of Rameshwaram, Shri Ramanathaswamy (Lord Shiva) is also worshipped as one of the 12 Jyotirlingams scattered across India. Additional significance of Rameshwaram is that the Ex President of India and the renowned aerospace engineer, professor and scientist Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam belongs to a fishing village near Rameshwaram named Dhanushkodi.
The term Rameshwaram can be split as ‘Ram’ + ‘Ishwaram’ which means, the ‘Lord of Ram’ i.e. Lord Shiva. It is believed that the Shiva Lingam enshrined in the Rameshwaram temple was worshipped by Lord Ram after killing the demon king Ravana of Sri Lanka and rescuing Devi Sita from his clutches.
As per the prevalent legend, the Shiva Lingam enshrined in Rameshwaram Temple was consecrated by Devi Sita and worshipped by Lord Ram. There are two different myths related to the genesis of Rameshwaram. One of the tales says that when Lord Ram along with his ‘Vanar Sena’ on the quest of Devi Sita reached this site, Ram drank water from the sea. At that moment there was a celestial proclamation which said, “You are drinking water without worshipping me”. Immediately Lord Ram formed a Shiva Lingam of sand and offered his worship at the feet of Lord Shiva. Ram also asked for the blessings that he could vanquish Ravana and rescue his consort Sita. Lord Shiva personally appeared in front of Lord Ram and blessed him accordingly. At the request of Lord Ram, Lord Shiva also agreed to reside at Rameshwaram for ever. Following that, the monkey army of Lord Ram built a bridge connecting Rameshwaram and Lanka and thus crossed the Gulf of Mannar and proceeded for the ‘Lanka Vijay’.
Another legend records that on his return from Lanka after killing Ravana, Ram along with wife Sita and brother Lakshman halted at this place and performed a Yagna to wash himself off the sin of killing Ravana; a Brahmin and the great grand son of Lord Brahma. Lord Ram had assigned the task to Lord Hanuman of bringing the Shiva Lingam from Varanasi / Kailas. Hanuman went to Kashi but didn’t come back in time. As Ram wanted to worship Lord Shiva at the pre decided auspicious moment, Devi Sita made him a Shiva Lingam of sand. This lingam is known as Ramalingam. By the time Hanuman had returned, the ‘Pooja’ was already over. Enraged Hanuman tried to unearth the Lingam made out of sand with his tail but in vain. Later, Lord Ram pacified Hanuman and installed the Lingam brought by him to the left of Ramalingam. At that time Lord Ram also declared that thenceforward the Vishwalinga (also known as Kasilingam and Hanumalingam) should be offered the first preference of Pooja amongst the two Lingams. This practice is followed even today at the Rameshwaram Temple.

History Of Rameshwaram

Over the sanctuaries, Rameshwaram has witnessed the rise and fall of a number of dynasties that governed this region of southern India. Till 15th century AD, Rameshwaram was a part of the Pandya Kingdom. Pandyas were succeeded by the Nayaka Kings of Vijaynagara who acquired and retained the throne till late 17th century. After the decline of Nayakas, the Sethupathis came into dominance who were the chieftains of the region during the Nayaka rule. Sethupathis were the aficionados of art and architecture under whose patronage both art and architecture flourished a lot. Some of the noteworthy Sethupathi chieftains of Rameshwaram were Muthuramalinga, Udayan, Raghunatha and Thirumalai whose statues are placed in the temples of this territory.

Must Do

Glass Boat Ride at Pamban Bridge
These glass boats have glass bottom through which you can see coral reefs in the sea. This joy ride is available at the Pamban Bridge. About 40 to 50 rupees per head or 400 rupees per boat are charged here. The boathouse is run by the Government and they provide a very good service. The best time for this glass boat ride is from 12:00 to 1:00 pm on a sunny day when the coral reefs can be seen clearly. It is recommended to carry an umbrella along and watch the reefs in the shade of the umbrella; otherwise you will end up looking at your own reflection in the bottom glass instead of the coral reefs.