Rameshwaram is located on a beautiful island in the lower side of India. Lord Shiva too is worshipped in this place. Renowned for its magnificent prakaras with massive sculptured pillars on either side, The Ramanathaswamy Temple houses the longest corridor in the world. Rameswaram – The name of this island is a Sanskrit word , Ram + Eswaram meaning “The place where Rama worshiped Lord Shiva”. It is known as the Varanasi of the South. Rameswaram is located at the southeastern end of the Indian Peninsula on the Gulf of Mannar. The Main land is Pamban island. It is connected to Indian subcontinent through pamban bridge. A lot of pigrims are attracted to this place every year.
History of Rameswaram
It is said that Rama installed the Siva-linga in the Ramananthaswami Temple on his return to the mainland from the island of Lanka, after killing Ravana. Rama wanted to install a Siva-linga in Rameswaram to absolve himself of the sin of killing Ravana, who was a Brahmin. Rama sent Hanuman to Mount Kailash to get the linga. Hanuman was late, so when the auspicious time for the installation neared, Sita made a Siva-linga out of sand. This linga was then installed by Rama and is known as the Rama-linga, because Lord Rama installed it.
At that time Hanuman came with the Siva-linga from Kailash. He was disappointed to find a linga already installed. Rama told Hanuman that he could remove the linga made by Sita and install the one that he brought in its place. Hanuman took hold of the linga with his hands and could not move it. He then wrapped his tail around it and tried to pull the linga out, but it did not move. The linga is said to still have the marks of Hanuman’s tail on it. To pacify Hanuman, Rama had the linga that he brought, the Viswa-linga, installed alongside the Rama-linga. He ordered that puja (worship) be performed first to the Viswa-linga. This is still being done today.
Places To Visit In Rameshwaram,
Ramanathaswamy Temple is a Hindu temple dedicated to the god Shiva located on Rameswaram island in the state of Tamil Nadu, India. It is also one of the twelve Jyotirlinga temples.It is one of the 274 Paadal Petra Sthalams, where the three of the most revered Nayanars (Saivite saints), Appar, Sundarar and Tirugnana Sambandar, have glorified the temple with their songs. The temple was expanded during the 12th century by Pandya Dynasty.
According to the Ramayana, Rama, the seventh avatar of the god Vishnu, prayed to the god Shiva to absolve sin of killing a brahmin, committed during his war against the demon king Ravana in Sri Lanka. Rama wanted to have the largest lingam to worship Shiva. He directed Hanuman, the monkey lieutenant in his army, to bring the lingam from Himalayas. Since it took longer to bring the lingam, Sita, the wife of Rama, built a small lingam out of the sand available in the sea shore, which is believed to be the lingam in the sanctum.
The primary deity of the temple is Ramanathaswamy (Shiva) in the form of lingam. There are two lingams inside the sanctum – one built by Sita, from sand, residing as the main deity, Ramalingam and the one brought by Hanuman from Kailash called Vishwalingam. Rama instructed that Vishwalingam should be worshipped first since it was brought by Hanuman – the tradition continues even today.
Like all ancient temples in South India, there is a high compound wall (madil) on all four sides of the temple premises measuring about 865 feet furlong from east to west and one furlongs of 657 feet from north to south with huge towers (Gopurams) at the east and west and finished gate towers on the north and south. The temple has striking long corridors in its interior, running between huge colonnades on platforms above five feet high.
The second corridor is formed by sandstone pillars, beams and ceiling. The junction of the third corridor on the west and the paved way leading from the western gopuram to Setumadhava shrine forms a unique structure in the form of a chess board and it is popularly known as Chokkattan Madapam where the Utsava deities are adorned and kept during the Vasanthotsavam (Spring festival) and on the 6th day festival in Adi (July–August) and Masi (February–March) conducted by the Setupati of Ramnad.
The outer set of corridors is reputed to be the longest in the world being about 6.9 m height, 400 feet in each in the east and west and about 640 feet in north and south and inner corridors are about 224 feet in east and west and about 352 feet each in north and south. Their width varies from 15.5 feet to 17 feet in the east and west about 172 feet on the north and south with width varying 14.5 feet to 17 feet. The total length of those corridors is thus 3850 feet. There are about 1212 pillars in the outer corridor. Their height is about 30 feet from the floor to the center of the roof. The main tower or rajagopuram is 53 m tall. Most pillars are carved with individual composition. At the beginning, Ramanathaswamy Temple was a thatched shed. The present structure was the work of many individuals spread over a number of centuries. The pride of place in the establishment for the Temple goes to the Setupatis of Ramanathapuram. In the seventeenth century, Dalavai Setupati built a portion of the main eastern Gopuram. In late eighteenth century, the world famous third corridor was constructed by Muthuramalinga Setupati who lived for forty nine years and ruled between 1763 and 1795.The corridor was called “Chokkatan Mandapam”. The Mukhya Pradhani (Chief Minister) was Muthuirullappa Pillai and the Chinna Prodhani (Deputy Chief Minister) was Krishna Iyengar. The Setupati’s statue and those of his two Pradhanis (ministers) can be seen at the western entrance to the third corridor.
There are separate shrines for Ramanathaswamy and his consort goddess Parvathavardhini separated by a corridor. There are separate shrines for the goddess Vishalakshi, the utsava images, sayanagriha, Vishnu and Ganesha. There are various halls inside the temple, namely Anuppu Mandapam, Sukravara Mandapam, Sethupathi Mandapam, Kalyana Mandapam and Nandi Mandapam.
Tirthams of Rameswaram
Agni Theertham – the primary sea shore associated with the temple
There are sixty-four Tīrthas (holy water bodies) in and around the island of Rameswaram, Tamil Nadu, India. According to Skānda Purāṇa, twenty-four of them are important. Bathing in these Tīrthas is a major aspect of the pilgrimage to Rameswaram and is considered equivalent to penance. Twenty-two of the Tīrthas are within the Rāmanāthasvāmī Temple. The number 22 indicates the 22 arrows in Rama’s quiver. The first and major one is called Agni Theertham, the sea (Bay of Bengal).
Ramar Padham is a Temple for Ram’s Feet, it is Situated in the sandy hillock named Gandha Madhana parvatham (The village where this temple is located is also called as Gandha Madhana Parvatham). The word Parvatham Literally meant Mountain, as per the reference in the epic Ramayana , there was a mount in this place in the ancient times.
The feet of Lord Rama is engraved in a stone chakra in this place. The Ramar padham is the highest point in the Rameswaram, one can see the full panoramic view of Rameswaram island by standing on the top of this Temple. It is believed that it is at this place, Lord Hanuman told Lord Ram that he had found Goddess Sita in Sri Lanka.