In this blog, we check the history of the Ramanathaswamy Temple, and which part of the Ramayana is the town of Rameswaram in Tamil Nadu associated with
Where is Rameswaram?
Rameswaram is a coastal town in the Southern Part of India in the state of Tamil Nadu, that is very close to Sri Lanka.
How does one reach Rameswaram?
From Bangalore– One has to catch a private bus at Kalasipalaya bus stand, or book it online at Redbus. There is no direct train yet from Bangalore to Rameswaram. One has to book break journeys from Bangalore to Madurai/Trichy and then board a train/bus from there to Rameswaram, which is longwinded. The highway road is the best way to steam ahead the 660 kilometres that separates these places.
The most famous train is the 16851 Boat Mail express from Chennai Egmore to Rameswaram. Previously on this train, you could take a ticket from Chennai-Colombo with a steamer ride from Dhanushkodi to Talaimannar(Sri Lanka) included. This was stopped in 1964, after a dreaded cyclone ravaged these parts and drowned Dhanushkodi.
One of the attractions is travelling on India’s first sea bridge on road and rail into Pamban Island/Rameswaram Island, which is covered in a video right at the bottom of this post.
What is the history of Rameswaram? How is it connected to real life places around Rameswaram?
1) Raamar Padham
It is said that Rama and Lakshmana first came to Rameswaram in search of Sita, and climbed Gandhamadhana hill, to understand that Sri Lanka was visible (Talaimannar) and decided their strategy to attack Sri Lanka by first building a bridge. Today that mountain is known as Ramaar Padham, a tourist spot in Rameswaram, from where you have lovely views of the water engulfing the little landmass of Pamban Island.
Rama and the Vanara Army viewing Lanka from Raamar Padham- Courtesy Amar Chitra Katha[/caption]
2) Kothandaraamar Temple or Vibeeshana Temple
During the time the bridge between India and Lanka was being built (Now known as Ram Setu/Adam’s Bridge)Rama, Lakshmana and the Vanara Army were camping in Dhanushkodi, where they met Vibeeshana (who had escaped from Sri Lanka seeking Rama’s asylum). This is also the place, where Vibeeshana was coronated as the king of Sri Lanka
3) Ramanathaswamy Temple
Soon after the war between Rama and Ravana, when Rama was returning to the Indian mainland, he wanted to atone the sin of killing a Brahmin (Ravana). Lord Shiva had advised him to perform a pooja in his honour and make a Shiva Linga. Rama sent Hanuman to Mount Kailasa to get a Shiva Linga, but since Hanuman did not return in time, Sita used the sand from the shore to build the Shiva Linga for the Pooja. This is the main deity of the the Ramanathaswamy Temple today. When Hanuman came back with his Shiva Linga, he was disappointed that Rama had already made a shiva linga. Rama and Sita, used Hanuman’s shiva linga and installed it at the entrance of the place, promising that for any pilgrim visiting the place, they would see Hanuman’s Shiva Linga first and then they would the inner sanctum of the sand shiva linga that Sita made.
4) Lakshmana Theertham
Post the war with Ravana, Lakshmana also wanted to perform a pooja for atoning the sin of killing Ravana’s son Meghnad. This was the place where the Pooja happened.
5) Dhanushkodi and Ram Setu
This is the place, where Rama decided that was the best place to build a bridge that would connect to Sri Lanka. The area at that time, had access to rocks that were formed of a specific type of material. Science explains these stones as Pumice stones, which are formed of the foam hardening when Lava meets water. A lot of these stones are still seen around Rameswaram’s coastline. These stones are formed of air bubbles, which is the reason they float. Over time, the air bubbles are filled up and the stones drown in water, which could be a plausible explanation of why the Ram Setu, today is under water.
6) Villondi Theertham
It is said that while Rama and the Vanara army were returning to the mainland, they felt thirsty. Rama shot an arrow into the sea, from where water started sprouting, which was the source for them to quench their thirst.
I have also made videos on my journey, and I recount my experiences below
Villondi Theertham, Ramar Paadham and Lakshmana Theertham
Ramathaswamy Temple and Vibeeshana Temple
Dhanushkodi and Arichal Munai
Travel on the sea-bridge to Rameswaram