Rameshwaram is a town in the Ramanathapuram district of Tamil Nadu. Rameshwaram is a bustling pilgrim centre as it is considered to be one of the holiest places in India. One among the Char Dham pilgrimages, Rameshwaram is visited by hordes of pilgrims all round the year.
Rameshwaram is located on the Pamban Island, or Rameshwaram Island, which lies at the very tip of the Indian peninsula, in the Gulf of Mannar. Pamban Island, which is separated from the mainland of India by the Pamban Channel, is connected to the mainland by the Pamban Bridge or Annai Indira Gandhi Bridge. Pamban Island is at a distance of about 40 km from Mannar Island of Sri Lanka.
Rameshwaram is a popular pilgrimage destination of both Shaivites and Vaishnavaites. As per Hindu Mythology, a pilgrimage to Benares has to be followed with a trip to Sri Ramanathaswamy Temple. Known also as Benares of the South, Rameshwaram has one of the 12 Jyothirlingas of Lord Shiva.
The island of Rameshwaram is conch shaped with an area of about 61.8 sq. km. Sri Ramanathaswamy Temple occupies most of the area of Rameshwaram Island. Sri Ramanathaswamy Temple stands as an epitome of Dravidian architectural style of the medieval ages.
History of Rameshwaram
As per legends, the original Ramanathaswamy Temple was built by Rama. As per historical facts, the origin of the temple can be dated back to the 12th century. The construction of the colossal, yet magnificent temple of Sri Ramanathaswamy Temple was initiated by Parakrama Bahu of Sri Lanka in the 12th century AD and it was completed by the Setupathy rulers of Ramanathapuram.
Many rulers down the centuries added many constructions to the temple, the latest of them being the long corridor called the 3rd prakaram, built in the 18th century. The temple is one of the many highlights of Rameshwaram tourism.
Things to do in Rameshwaram
Besides being a pilgrimage destination, Rameshwaram is a popular beach destination as well. The shallow beaches of Rameshwaram characteristically have fewer waves that rise to a maximum height of 3 cm. The best time to visit Rameshwaram is from January to March. As Rameshwaram is a pilgrimage hotspot, tourists can also opt for Rameshwaram holiday packages to plan their holiday better.
Sri Ramanathaswamy Temple, Agnitheertham, Gandamadana Parvatham, Dhanushkodi, Kothandaraswamy Temple and Erwadi are the popular and the most visited pilgrimage attractions of Rameshwaram. Tourists also visit nearby attractions like Ramanathapuram, Tirupullani, Uthirakosamangai, Sethu, etc. on their trip to the Island of Rameshwaram.
Shopping in Rameshwaram
Besides, wonderful handicraft items have attracted foreign tourists as well to Rameshwaram. The markets in Rameshwaram have avenue shops selling exotic decorative masterpieces, which are very popular. Many shops near the temple of Rameshwaram sell exquisite showpieces made of seashells, beads, palm leafs, etc.
Travelling to Rameshwaram
The nearest airport to Rameshwaram is at Madurai, which is located at a distance of 163 km. The airport is well connected to many cities including Coimbatore, Chennai and Bangalore. Taxi services are also available from the airport to Rameshwaram.
Rameshwaram or Mandapan Railway Station is only 2 km away and is well connected by rail to major cities of Tamil Nadu Chennai, Madurai, Coimbatore, Thanjavur and Trichy.
Tamil Nadu Road Transport Corporation has bus services that connect Rameshwaram with all cities in Tamil Nadu, which includes Kanyakumari, Madurai, Trichy and Thanjavur. Also available are deluxe super fast buses, connecting Chennai and Bangalore to reach Rameshwaram.
Accommodation options in Rameshwaram
For budget conscious tourists, there are many budget hotels in Rameshwaram. Also, other hotel options in Rameshwaram include guesthouses, lodges and hostels.