Cholan Tours-Rameswaram - is it adventure or pilgrimage destination

Rameswaram - is it adventure or pilgrimage destination

  • June 12, 2024

RAMESWARAM

Rameswaram is fondly revered as South Kasi. It has long been a pilgrim destination for spiritual tourists seeking to immerse themselves in its lively history and magnificent temple architecture. It is considered one of the holiest destinations in India by Hindus, alongside Varanasi, and is part of the Char Dham pilgrimage route. However, Rameswaram is a well-kept secret that can be experienced on the lovely beaches, and the unexplored opportunities for quest expeditions deep into the water, have given this holy island a magical touch, distinguishing it as a favourite destination for adventure enthusiasts, who have a lot of exciting activities ranging from boating to snorkelling.

More than eight businessmen have purchased land in Rameswaram to develop 5-star luxury resorts. However, they are awaiting Government approval to do so. Let us hope that Rameswaram becomes the best beach adventure destination in the future.

The travellers arriving at Rameswaram have bundles of options to choose from. One can select from many water sporting options to indulge in like kayaking, canoeing, scuba diving, snorkelling, surfing, windsurfing, kitesurfing, waterskiing, jet skiing and Stand-up paddle boarding.

Rameswaram is one of the best kitesurfing spots in India and it enjoys the privilege of perfect wind conditions for over nine months in a year with a nestle of kite spots, sought after by the pro-riders to explore the beauty of the Gulf of Mannar.

Krusadai Island in Rameshwaram is a hidden gem less explored by tourists. One of the most preferred islands in Rameswaram is  Krusadai Island. While the island has been a protected marine area for many years, the forest department has recently opened it to tourists. The region in and around Krusadai island is home to rare species of coral reefs. One can see coral reefs closely as the island has shallow and clear waters. Due to this reason, big ships are restricted from entering this region, and it is a strictly protected marine area.

So Rameswaram is a generous host to a sea of gleaming water, cleaner coastal lines and an emerging home for adventure sports. Rameshwaram is in the limelight of adventure enthusiasts and honeymooners in recent times as a beach destination where you can stay close to the uninterrupted waves.

Rameswaram

Rameshwaram is a holy island town located in the Gulf of Mannar, off the southeastern coast of Tamil Nadu. It is a popular pilgrimage destination for Hindus and is known for its famous Ramanathaswamy temple. The town is also known for its beautiful beaches and historical temples. Rameshwaram is acclaimed as one of the Four Char Dham in India:- Rameshwaram in the South, Badrinath in the North, Puri in the East and Dwaraka in the West. The pilgrims who plan to visit Varanasi make it a point to visit Rameshwaram before and after their visit to Varanasi, which is believed to complete the pilgrimage. According to Hindu mythology, Lord Rama visited Rameshwaram to worship Lord Shiva before crossing over to Lanka to rescue his wife Sita from the demon king Ravana. It is believed that Lord Rama himself installed the Shiva Lingam in the Ramanathaswamy Temple, the most prominent temple in Rameshwaram. A very important spiritual destination most frequented by devotees across the country. For many, especially Hindus,  the religious significance of Rameshwaram as a whole is paramount. The best time to visit Rameswaram is from October to March when the weather is pleasant.

Three main ways to reach Rameswaram:

By Air: The nearest airport to Rameshwaram is Madurai Airport (IXM), located about 180 kilometres away. Another option is Trichy Airport (TRZ), which is about 260 kilometres from Rameshwaram and easily connects to various cities in India including Chennai, Bengaluru, Mumbai, and Delhi. It also serves some international destinations like Dubai, Singapore and Colombo.

By Train: Rameshwaram has its railway station (RMM), well-connected to major cities in India by train. The Rameshwaram railway station is located on the island, and there are trains from cities like Chennai, Madurai, Trichy, and Bangalore. Note, now railway construction is going on and the train will stop at Mandapam Station itself which is the prior station to Rameshwaram.

By Road: Rameswaram is well connected by a road network with the neighbouring cities of Tamil Nadu through NH 81, NH 44, NH 38, NH 87, NH 63 and NH 87 highways.

Important Attractions of Rameswaram:

Ramanathaswamy Temple:  The Ramanathaswamy Temple, a majestic Hindu temple devoted to Lord Shiva, is one of India's most important holy landmarks. The Ramanathaswamy Temple is one of twelve Jyotirlinga shrines in India. Jyotirlingas are revered representations of Lord Shiva, thought to be emitting light. This boosts the temple's significance among Shaivites (devotees of Shiva), making it a popular pilgrimage destination. The mythology connects Lord Rama to the shrine. Rama is thought to have placed the Shiva Lingam here before embarking on his voyage to Lanka. This legendary association holds great religious significance for Hindus. The Hall of 1000 Pillars is undoubtedly the most well-known element of the temple complex. While it has over 1200 pillars, the name reflects its great grandeur and outstanding design. These artistically carved pillars form one of the most expansive corridors found in any Indian temple. The temple exemplifies Dravidian architecture at its best. The intricate craftsmanship, sculptures, and towering gopurams (gateway towers) are quite breathtaking. The complex contains 22 theerthams or sacred water sources. These are thought to have healing effects, and pilgrims frequently take a bath as part of their pilgrimage ceremonies. Unlike many temples, the Ramanathaswamy Temple features separate corridors for men and women, which is an unusual feature of its design. Please note, that non-Hindus will not be allowed to enter the inner sanctum of the temple.

Timings: 04.00 PM to 12.30 PM & from 04.00 PM to 08.00 PM

Entrance fee: No

Camera fee: Not allowed.

Video Camera Fee: Not allowed.

Gandamanaparvatham (Lord Rama’s footprint): Gandamanaparvatham, also known as Rama Patham or Rama Theertham, is a religious site on a hill in Rameshwaram. It is significant for Hindus because of its association with the Ramayana. The main draw here is that Lord Rama's footprint is engraved on a chakra (discus) at the location. According to legend, Rama visited this location while searching for Sita, kidnapped by the evil king Ravana. Another version holds that Rama encountered Vibhishana, Ravana's brother who sided with Rama, at Gandamanaparvatham. Vibhishana's image is located within the temple complex. Gandamanaparvatham, situated on a hillside, provides panoramic views of Rameshwaram Island. It is considered the highest point in the area. The serene atmosphere contributes to the spiritual value of the location.

Timings: 07:00 AM to 01:00 PM and from 03:00 PM to 06:00 PM

Entrance fee: No

Panchamuga (five-face) Hanuman temple: The Panchmukhi Hanuman Temple is around 2 kilometres away from the Ramanathaswamy Temple. This temple is a prominent pilgrimage destination, recognized for its unique Hanuman deity with five faces. The temple's most noticeable feature is its presiding deity, a huge idol of Lord Hanuman with five faces. These faces depict Hanuman's five aspects: Kesari (father's side, monkey god), Hayagriva (horse-headed form), Garuda (divine eagle), Varahi (boar avatar of Vishnu), and Narasimha (lion-headed avatar of Vishnu). Worshipping the five-faced Hanuman is thought to bestow strength, courage, intelligence, and protection from evil. The five faces represent Hanuman's different powers and capacity to overcome every barrier. The Panchmukhi Hanuman Temple, like the other pilgrimage sites in Rameshwaram, is tied to the Ramayana. According to legend, Hanuman exhibited his five faces while looking for Sita in Lanka. The temple complex is also noted for hosting some of the "floating stones" thought to have been used by Lord Rama's troops to construct the bridge from Lanka. These stones are displayed in the temple. These stones are thought to have the unusual ability to float in water. In addition to the main five-faced Hanuman idol, the temple has smaller idols of Lord Rama, Sita, Lakshmana, and other deities.

Timings: 06.00 AM to 06.30 PM

Entrance fee: No

Kothandaramaswamy Temple: The Kothandaramaswamy Temple honours the Hindu deity Rama. It is in Rameswaram, approximately 13 kilometres from the main town. The temple is one of the 108 Divya Desam revered by the Vaishnavite community. It is also thought to be over 1,000 years old. The temple is notable for a variety of reasons. First, it is thought to be the location where Vibhishana, the younger brother of the evil king Ravana, took sanctuary with Lord Rama after persuading Ravana to release Sita. Surprisingly, the temple was the sole edifice to survive the severe hurricane of 1964, which virtually destroyed the entire town of Dhanushkodi. The temple houses the deities of Rama, Lakshmana, Sita, Hanuman, and Vibhishana. Tradition relates that Vibhishana, Ravana's younger brother, sought refuge here after persuading Ravana to return Sita to Rama. The major idol depicts Rama clutching a bow (Kothandam), hence the name Kothandaramaswamy. The temple is surrounded by sea on all sides except for the road that connects the island to the mainland.

Timings: 07.00 AM to 05.00 PM

Entrance fee: No

Dhanushkodi Beach: Dhanushkodi Beach is a stunning beach on the southern edge of Rameswaram Island. The term Dhanushkodi translates to "tip of the bow," and it is thought that Lord Rama from the epic Ramayana aimed his bow here to instruct his vanara sena (monkey army) to construct a bridge connecting Lanka. The beach is renowned for its pristine beauty. The Bay of Bengal and the Gulf of Mannar meet here, resulting in a distinctive environment. Unfortunately, in 1964, a storm destroyed Dhanushkodi, nearly destroying the entire town. While it is abandoned, the ruins of the old town and the beach are renowned tourist attractions. These ruins are a haunting reminder of the cyclone's power. You may see the remains of houses, churches, and a railway station. The Ram Setu viewpoint has beautiful views of Pamban Island and Adam's Bridge, a line of limestone shoals that some say were erected by Lord Rama's army. Arichal Munai, the confluence of the Bay of Bengal and the Gulf of Mannar, is a unique geographical feature where the waters of both oceans converge. The contrasting colours of the water are easily evident from here. Dhanushkodi beaches are recognized for their pure beauty and strong surf. The beach has clean white sand and clear blue waves, making it a beautiful sight and a favourite photography location.

Special note, visitors are allowed to visit Dhanushkodi Beach but it purely depends on the climatic conditions.

Timings: 07.00 AM to 05.00 PM

Lighthouse in Dhanushkodi Beach: The Dhanushkodi Lighthouse, which opened in 2022, is a relatively modern structure. It lies 49 meters (53 meters above sea level) on the point of Pamban Island, near the historic Dhanushkodi railway station and church. This lighthouse is the first major permanent building constructed in Dhanushkodi after a severe hurricane in 1964. It serves two functions: to assist ships navigating the Palk Strait and Gulf of Mannar and as a tourist attraction with panoramic views of the surrounding area from a visitor's gallery. The Palk Strait and the Gulf of Mannar border the lighthouse on opposite sides. It has a 3-meter-diameter lantern atop the tower, with a 250mm spinning optic and an LED as the primary source of illumination. The light has a range of 15 nautical miles and is powered by 5KW of solar power. Visitors can climb the lighthouse to a 42-meter-high viewing gallery for a 360-degree view of the surrounding area, which includes the Palk Strait, the Gulf of Mannar, and the ruins of the old town of Dhanushkodi.

Timings: 10.00 AM to 01.00 PM & from 02.30 PM to 05.00 PM

Entrance fee: Foreigners – Rs.25 & Indians – Rs.10

Camera Fee: Rs.20

Video Camera Fee: Rs.25

Holiday: Monday

Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam’s house: Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam's home is now a museum honouring his life and accomplishments. It's located on Mosque Street in Rameswaram, where he was born and raised. In 2011, the house was converted into a museum, which is now maintained by his elder brother. It includes images, prizes, and other mementos that highlight his humble beginnings, early accomplishments, and global fame. This house contains various interesting items, including a recreation of the Kalam House as it existed during his childhood. Photographs highlight his life path, from his childhood to his days as a scientist and president, his scientific discoveries and rockets, and the accolades and distinctions he got throughout his career, including the Bharat Ratna. The museum is an excellent site to learn about the life and work of one of India's most popular presidents. It depicts his entire journey, from childhood to becoming a respected scientist and India's 11th President.

Timings: 09.00 AM to 05.00 PM

Entrance fee: No

Mobile, Camera, Video Camera: Not allowed.

Pamban Bridge: The Pamban Bridge is a railway bridge connecting the town of Rameswaram on Pamban Island to Mandapam on mainland India. It was India's first sea bridge, inaugurated on February 24, 1914, and remained the longest in the country for nearly a century until the Bandra-Worli Sea Link opened in 2010. The 2.06-kilometer bridge connects the Indian mainland and Rameswaram Island. The rail bridge is primarily a conventional bridge supported by concrete piers, but also has a double-leaf bascule section in the middle that can be lifted to allow ships and barges to pass through. It is a cantilever bridge with a Scherzer rolling lift bridge at its centre. This portion may be lifted, allowing ships to pass through. The bridge is in a corrosive sea environment, making maintenance a challenge. The site is also cyclone-prone, and the bridge has weathered multiple storms throughout the years. A new bridge is now being built to replace the existing one. The new bridge will be a vertical lift bridge that can handle larger ships. The Pamban Bridge is a vital link between Rameswaram and the mainland.

Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam Memorial: The Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam National Memorial celebrates India's 11th president, A.P. J. Abdul Kalam, and is in Peikarumbu, Rameswaram. The Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO) designed and built the memorial to honor Kalam while also highlighting India's cultural and ethnic diversity. On July 27, 2017, India's Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, officially inaugurated it. It represents national unification and combines Mughal and Indian architecture. The main dome, which resembles Rashtrapati Bhavan's central dome, has a bronze statue of Kalam playing the Veena. The center dome connects to four display halls, each measuring around 2500 square feet and representing Kalam's life. The halls are separated into four sections: children's square, scientist square, motivation square, and lecture Square. The halls house replica rockets and missiles, 900 paintings, including murals and Shekhawati paintings, and a collection of 200 photographs highlighting Kalam's long association with the DRDO, the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO), as well as his involvement in India's civilian space program and military missile development. The landscaping outside the memorial resembles a Mughal Garden, featuring plants from Bangalore, Andhra Pradesh, and Telangana.

Special Note: Coaches have no access to any of Rameswaram’s tourist attractions or hotels. They usually only operate up to the bus stop. From there, the passengers must rent non-AC local minivans or tempo travelers for their sightseeing and return.

Interesting Activity in Rameswaram:

Water Sports Activity: Rameshwaram has a surprising number of water sports activities for the adventurous guest. It offers a variety of leisure activities, including kayaking, jet skiing, stand-up paddleboarding, windsurfing, and snorkeling. Enjoy the thrill of zipping over the sea on a jet ski. This is an excellent way to get an adrenaline rush while also enjoying Rameswaram’s stunning coastline. Kayak through the calm seas around Rameshwaram and explore the nearby mangrove forests. One can also kayak to surrounding islands and have a picnic meal. Snorkeling or scuba diving trips allow you to explore Rameswaram’s underwater world. The coral reefs here are home to a diverse range of colorful fish and marine life. Windsurfing is a skill-based water sport that allows you to enjoy the wind and waves. Stand-up paddleboarding allows you to explore Rameswaram’s shoreline at your own speed. It also works your core and legs. A banana boat cruise is an enjoyable activity for large groups of friends or family. You will be towed behind a boat on a gigantic inflatable banana, which will undoubtedly make you laugh (or scream). The optimum time to enjoy water activities in Rameshwaram is between October and May. At this moment, the weather is lovely, and the seas are calm.

Please note, water sports activities are being operated purely based on the climatic conditions.                                                                                                                                 

Important Temples around / nearby Rameswaram where the guests visit, as enroute places.

Thirupullani Temple: The temple is located at Thirupullani, approximately 12 kilometres from Ramanathapuram and 57 kilometres from Rameshwaram. Thirupullani Temple is an old Hindu temple dedicated to Athi Jaganath Perumal. Vaishnavites revere 108 Divya Desams, including this one. It is thought that Lord Rama worshipped Lord Vishnu here in the guise of Athi Jagannatha Perumal. The temple is famous for its spiritual significance and distinctive construction. The temple is designed in the Dravidian style, with towering gopurams (gateway towers), elaborate carvings, and expansive rooms. The temple's five-tiered rajagopuram (gateway tower) faces east. The Adi Jagannatha shrine houses an image of Adi Jagannatha, Bhudevi, and Sri Devi in a seated posture. Adi Jagannathar's consort, Padmasini, is placed at a separate shrine. There is a shrine to Dharbasayana Ramar in a reclining position. There is a metal image of Krishna from the 13th century Pandya period of the Vijayanagara and Madurai Nayak Kings. The temple is said to be one of the oldest in the region, probably reaching back hundreds of years before the Common Era. The Bodhi Tree (Arasa Maram) within the temple compound is reported to be centuries old and blessed by Lord Vishnu's presence. The temple is related to the Tamil poet Kambar and the Ramayana. The temple is related with the Tamil poet Kambar and the Ramayana. Festivals such as Vaikunta Ekadasi, Krishna Jayanthi, Pongal, Deepavali, and weekends attract a significant number of devotees to the temple.

Timings: 07:00 AM to 12:30 PM and from 03:30 PM to 08:30 PM.

Entrance fee: No

Please note, that non-Hindus will not be allowed to enter the inner sanctum of the temple.

Uthrakosamangai Temple: Thiru Uthirakosamangai is a renowned temple for Lord Shiva, believed to have existed before 3000 years ago. The presiding deity Mangalanathar is believed to have preached the meanings of Vedas and other auspicious secrets of Hinduism to His consort Mangalambigai at this holy place. The temple and its glory are found to be mentioned in various literatures. Temple authorities claim that this is the world's earliest (first) Shiva temple. This temple is particularly known for its Nataraja statue, which is constructed of emerald stone and is coated in sandal paste for 11 months, except for January, when it is cleansed and left as is for Darshana.

Apart from the antiquity of this temple and its specialities, yet another significant aspect of this temple is the idol of Lord Nataraja. Lord Nataraja is the dancing posture of Lord Shiva. The unbelievable fact about this idol is that Lord Nataraja stands as a six-foot-tall statue carved out of a single emerald stone. Dating back to around three thousand years, the source and means for such a precious statue are still a mystery. Lord Nataraja is covered with sandal paste throughout the year as Emerald has the scientific property of its molecules getting disturbed when exposed to light and water. Once a year, on the day of Thriuvadhirai Star during the Tamil month Margazhi, Lord Nataraja can be worshipped without the sandal paste. Day-long rituals and anointing with different aromatic materials are carried out on this auspicious day and this special darshan is called Arudhra Dharshan. Thousands of devotees throng the temple on this sacred day to worship the Emerald Nataraja and seek His blessings.

Besides the wonderful Lord Nataraja and Lord Mangalanathar, there exists a separate shrine for the Goddess Mangalanayaki. The façade of the temple is with a seven-tiered gateway tower. Near the entrance, there exists a statue of the mythological creature called Yali. It is with the face of a lion with a human’s body. A huge stone ball rolls around inside this yali’s mouth, but no one can take the ball out which is an engineering mystery.

A common mythology about the temple is that Ravana, the King of Lanka, married Mandodari here. Another mythology links the creation of the Shiva Linga and Nataraja idols to Ravana. A big, 3000-year-old ilanthai (Indian elm) tree is a notable feature of the temple complex. The temple hosts a variety of festivals throughout the year, the most notable being the Arudra Darshan in the Tamil month of Margazhi-Thai (December or January). During this event, the emerald Nataraja idol is exposed, and extraordinary pujas and festivities take place.

Timings: 06.00 AM to 01.00 PM & from 04.00 PM to 08.00 PM

Entrance fee: No

Please note, that non-Hindus will not be allowed to enter the inner sanctum of the temple.

Devipattinam:

Devipattinam is a beautiful coastal village located in Tamil Nadu's Ramanathapuram district. It is also known as Navapashanam and is a famous pilgrimage destination for those visiting Rameshwaram, which is around 65 kilometres distant. Hindus perform religious rites for their forefathers here. It is well known for its temples, particularly the Navagraha Temple. This temple, devoted to the nine celestial bodies (Navagrahas), is thought to have been built by Lord Rama himself to pacify the sea gods before going to Lanka to save his wife, Sita. According to mythology, Lord Rama placed nine separate stones here, representing the nine celestial bodies. Worshipping the Navagrahas here is said to please them and prevent any evil effects. The temple is remarkable since the Navagrahas' idols are located on the seashore and become submerged during high tide. Devipattinam is thought to be the location where Goddess Durga killed the demon Mahishasura. Because the stones are placed inside the sea, around 100 meters from the coastline, the best time to visit is between 05:30 and 08:30 a.m. At this time, the sea level and tides are extremely low, so you may easily walk into the sea via a tiny bridge from the coastline to observe the stones at a depth of 2-4 feet from the sea level and worship the Navagrahas, or nine stones. When there is a high tide or the water level increases, then the nine stones are submerged in the water. The Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments are responsible for this temple.

The facilities for pilgrims and tourists are not up to the standard, hence it is recommended to visit this place enroute or do only a day excursion.

Hotels in Rameswaram:

Hotel Names

Category

Website Link

Hotel Residency Towers

Deluxe (4*)

https://www.theresidency.com/towers-rameswaram/

Hotel Daiwik

Deluxe (4*)

https://www.daiwikhotels.com/

Hotel Arjunaa

Standard (3*)

https://www.hotelarjunaa.com/

Hotel Star Palace

Standard (3*)

https://www.starpalacehotels.com/

Hotel Fortune

Standard (3*)

https://www.fortunermm.in/

Hotel SS Grand

Economy (2*)

https://www.hotelssgrand.com/

Hotel Vinayaga

Economy (2*)

https://poppyshotels.com/vinayaga-by-poppys-rameswaram

Hotel Ashoka

Economy (2*)

https://www.hotelashokarameswaram.com/

Hotel Taika

Economy (2*)

https://hoteltaika.com/

Hotel Rameshwaram Grand

Economy (2*)

https://www.hotelrameswaramgrand.com/

Hotel Justa Sarang

Economy (2*)

https://www.justahotels.com/justa-sarang-rameswaram/

Restaurants in Rameswaram:

As Rameswaram is a pilgrim destination, only pure vegetarian food is available. There are no good local restaurants in Rameswaram and hence, it will be better for the guests to take their food at the hotels where they stay.

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