- TAMIL NADU
east of Madurai, on an island in the Palk Strait, is the temple
town of Rameswaram, a sacred place for Hindus. According to
the Ramayana, this is the place where Rama worshipped Lord
Shiva, to absolve himself of the sin of killing Ravana. Every
nook and corner of Rameswaram, is steeped in episodes from
the Ramayana. Rameswaram is the Varanasi of the south, and
is a major pilgrimage centre for Vaishnavites and Shaivites.
What to See
Ramanathaswamy Temple: Close to the sea, on the eastern
side of the island, is this 17th century temple, renowned
for its magnificent pillar corridor, running to a length of
1200 metres, and flanked by ornate pillars. This is the longest
corridor in India. Construction of the temple began, in the
12th century AD, and additions were made to the building,
over the succeeding centuries by various rulers, and, today,
its gopuram is 53.6 metres high. There are 22 sacred wells
in the temple, the water of each tasting different from the
Agnitheertham: 100 metres away
from the temple is Agnitheertham, where Rama worshipped Lord
Shiva, to cleanse away the sin of killing Ravana.
Gandamadana Parvatham: Situated
on the highest point in the island, 2 km north of Rameswaram
town centre, is the venerable shrine, housing the imprint
of Lord Rama's feet placed on a chakra.
Dhanushkodi: Dhanushkodi, at
the eastern end of the island, is located 8 kms away from
Rameswaram. This is the place where Rama is said to have bathed,
and the boulders that pepper the sea between here and Srilanka,
known as Adam's bridge, were the stepping stones used by Hanuman
to find Rama's wife Sita, after she was abducted by Ravana,
the King of Lanka. Dhanushkodi was completely washed away
by the sea, in the 1964 cyclone. The only surviving relic
of the past is the Kothandaramaswamy temple, which still contains
the icons of Rama, Sita, Lakshmana, Hanuman and Vibhishana.
Legend states that Vibhishana, brother of Ravana, surrendered
to Rama at this spot.
Ramanathapuram: The district
headquarters and an ancient town, Ramanathapuram, is worth
visiting for its Ram Vilas Palace. This palace of the Sethupati
Rajas, houses oil portraits of the Rajas, of the past centuries.
Ceilings and walls are decorated with early eighteenth century
murals, depicting subjects such as business meetings with
the English, and battles with the Maratha Sarabhoji, as well
as scenes from epics.
Tirupullani: Also known as Dharbasayanam,
the Vishnu temple at Tirupullani, is dedicated to Lord Adi
Uthirakosamangai: The site is famous for the Shiva
temple, the deity of which is carved in emerald. The annual
'Arudhra' festival in December, attracts a large number of
Erwadi: An important site for
Muslim pilgrims, Erwadi houses the tomb of Ibrahim Sahid Aulia.
The annual festival in honour of this saint, takes place in
Festivals are celebrated in the Ramanathaswamy temple, in
connection with Thai Amavasi (Jan), Masi Sivarathiri (Feb-Mar),
Thirukalyanam (July-Aug) and Mahalaya Amavasi (Sept).
How to get there
Connected by road to all important towns. Rail connections
with all major cities like Madras, Madurai, Coimbatore, Trichy
and Tanjavur. Nearest airport is Madurai, which is 173 kms.