Rameswaram



   Rameswaram is a small town on the eastern side of an island, which is the shape of a conch shell, 55 km by 12 km. It is one of the four dhamas, or kingdoms of God. The other three are Badrinath, Puri and Dwarka. 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.

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Sri Ramananthaswami Temple
This is one of the major Lord Siva temples in India. The name of the deity, Ramananthaswami, indicates that Lord Siva is a great personality whose worshipable deity is Lord Rama or it can also mean that even Lord Rama worships Lord Shiva.

This temple was also visited by Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu on His travels.

three times bigger image in new window 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.
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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.

three times bigger image in new window Sita and Ram worshiping Shiva-linga of Ramananthaswami. On the left side there is Hanuman and Laksman is on the right.
three times bigger image in new window On the right side there is Shiva-linga of Ramananthaswami, on the left there is Sati, his chaste wife.
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Because non-Hindus are not allowed into the inner sanctum to see the deities (they can only walk around the rest of the temple), you can see the lingam at least on paintings.

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The main entrance.
Parts of the present temple were built in the 12th century. Many additions have been added over the years. Udayan Sethupathi of Ramnad expanded the temple in the 15th century and his statue is found near the southern entrance of the temple. The temple covers 15 acres. The eastern gopuram is 53m (175 ft) high. This temple is famous for the 1,220m (3,700 feet) long beautiful corridor that goes around the temple. There are 22 teerthams (tanks) in the temple complex in which pilgrims traditionally bathe in before seeing the deities. Each tank is said to give a different benefit. Many pilgrims bathe in all 22 tanks before seeing the deity.

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The sea at Agni Teertham, about 250m from the temple, is a sacred bathing place, and it is said that if you take bath there all your sins are washed away. It is traditional to take bath at Agni Teertham before entering the Ramananthaswami Temple.

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Rameswaram is really ancient town where one can see things as this broken gopuram.

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Rama-tirtha
is a water tank where Sri Ramacandra is said to be bathing. Kodi-tirtha is a spring created by Ram's arrow.

three times bigger image in new window Ramacandra's temple near Rama-tirtha.
three times bigger image in new window Nearby we can find many places connected to Rama's pastimes and events depicted in Ramayana. There is a temple near the bridge that you cross to enter Rameswaram where there is a floating rock. When Lord Rama went to Lanka with the monkey army, they crossed the ocean on a bridge of floating rocks. The floating rock in this temple proves that floating rocks exist.
three times bigger image in new window Jay and Vijay near temple entrance.
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Deities of Sita, Ram, Laksman and Hanuman at Rama-tirtha.

three times bigger image in new window Arati for Nrsimha Swami.
three times bigger image in new window Kothandaramasvami Temple
It is located about 8 km from Rameswaram, or about 6 km from the southernmost tip of the island going toward Dhanushkodi.
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There are deities of Rama, Sita, Laksman, Hanuman and Vibhishana bowing to Rama here. It is said that Vibhishana, Ravana's brother, surrendered to Lord Rama at this place. A series of paintings inside the temple tells the pastime.

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In 1964 a cyclone wiped out everything in the surrounding area. The only thing left standing was this temple.

It is said that Hanuman made his great leap to Lanka from place called Gandhamadhana Parvatham with two-story temple is on a small hilltop, about 2.5 km northwest of the Ramananthaswami Temple.

three times bigger image in new window Dhanushkodi
Dhanushkodi is about 20 km southeast of Rameswaram. This is the place where the Bay of Bengal meets the Indian Ocean. It is said that Lord Rama, an incarnation of Lord Vishnu, bathed at Dhanushkodi.
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It is said that here Lord Rama destroyed a small bridge with his bow at the request of Vibhishana, the younger brother of Ravana.

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Pilgrims are supposed to bathe in the small lagoon here called Ratnakara. This is a place to offer sraddha to the ancestors. It is said to be especially auspicious to bathe here in May. It is a nice place to visit.

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Dhanushkodi is a holy place "in the middle of nowhere". One is surrounded only by sand and water.

three times bigger image in new window No trees are growing there and to sit in shade seems to be a luxury.
three times bigger image in new window Nowadays there are no so many fish as it used to be. Local fisherman told me that 20 years ago his nets were so heavy that he couldn't even lift them...
three times bigger image in new window ...and this old grandma confirmed it.
three times bigger image in new window Pamban is fisherman's village on the other side of the island.
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three times bigger image in new window Fisherman's family.
three times bigger image in new window On the beach one can see disintegrating British Forth that is supposedly few hundred years old. The ocean gradually devours it.
three times bigger image in new window Small Sati is a daughter of fisherman living with her grandma 15 km from Dhanushkodi.
three times bigger image in new window She called me "uncle"...
three times bigger image in new window ...and really liked my watches, which I gave her for playing.


Please visit Vaisnava.cz
Thanks to Vaisnava.cz for the creation of
this photo essay. Copied with permission.

English texts, selection of images, design:
Tattva-darsi das
Most texts are based on the information from Jada Bharata's book Holy Places of India,
which contains many additional information useful for travelers. It can be found on:
www.spiritualguides.net

Photographs from their travels:
Radha-raman das and Pavan-suta das

 


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