Day 2: Trip to Rameswaram

on 31st night we have booked tickets for Rameswaram through Sree Devi hotel. At their reception I found the package trip per person to Rameswaram is Rs 275 including food. But dude to season time they charged us Rs 350. We were provided 2 seats on Subbu Travels. The scheduled timing was 7.30 am to 7 pm. on 1st Jan 2011 we were called around 7 am in the morning and by little after 7.30 am we boarded the bus. We were the first passengers on the bus. It was actually a mini bus and was of below average quality. At the next stop they picked up two Bengali families from Kolkata and goodness gracious the scenes they created on the trip was no less than a Govinda flick in terms of laughing intensity. We left Madurai city around 9 am.

Distance from Madurai to Rameswaram: 164 km

Travel time: 3.5 to 4 hours

Route: Madurai – Ramanathapuram – Rameswaram

The roads are very good. But the driver of Subbu travels was very slow and he took more than 4 hours to reach Rameswaram. I suggest you try the following travel agency:

MMTT Tours and Travels

Hotel Ashoka (KPS)
12, Perumal Theppakulam East,
Town Hall Road, Madurai – 625001
Ph: 2340282, 2343572, 4231177
Email: anil_mmtt@yahoo.co.in

About Rameswaram: Rameswaram is one of the 4 dhams of Hindu religion. It is a very important pilgrimage center for the Hindus from all over the World. Geographically Rameswaram is an island separated from mainland India by the Pamban channel. It is also known as pamban island. The early rulers of Rameswaram were the Pandya kings and Chola kings. Followed by Nayak kings as feudals of Vijaynagara empire and then independently upto 17th century. Then earlier chieftains of Rameswaram – the Sethupathis came to power. It is said that the generation of Sethupathis were there when Ram visited Rameswaram.

Sight seeing in Rameswaram:

First we saw Pamban bridge which comes on the way to Rameswaram. Pamban Bridge is actually a set of two bridges – one rail bridge and a road bridge. It connects mainland India with Rameswaram island. The bridge is over Palk Strait or Pamban channel. The 2.3 km bridge is the first sea bridge in India and at present second largest sea bridge after Bandra – Worli sea link in Mumbai. The railway bridge is a cantilever bridge and it allows movement of ships. The railway bridge construction was started in 1887 and was completed on 1912. This British constructed bridge started operation on 1914. The road bridge called Annai Indira Gandhi bridge, named after late prime minister of India Indira Gandhi.

There is a light house and a nice beach on the Rameswaram side.

Sita kund or sri Sita Teertham which comes on the left hand side. It is a small tank which is associated with Sita (wife of Ram). The tank has many small fish. Entry fee is Rs 2 per person.

Then we went to Lakshman kund or sri Lakshmana Teertham. This place is located on the right hand side of the road near Sita Teertham. Before entering Lakshmana Teertham on the right had side you find Naganathar (Snake god) temple. Entrance is Rs 2 per person and the tank here is comparatively much bigger. Besides the tank is a well built temple dedicated to Lakshman in Nag avatar.

Next was Ramachandra temple which is little further on the right hand side of the road. In this temple Ram, Lakshman and Sita is worshiped together. Just after the entrance on the left hand side you can find a Hanuman statue and little further is the deity of Ram, Lakshman and Sita. Here, you can also see the amazing floating stones with which Ram built the Ram sethu (bridge) to visit Sri Lanka and bring back Sita. This stones are made up of limestone and are perforated. Unfortunately photography is not allowed inside this temple.

Then we had food and moved to see Agni Teertham. To view Agni Teertham you have take the road opposite to Sri Ramanathaswamy temple. On the way you will find Sri Ujjaini Mahakali Amman temple. On the left hand side you will find a small temple for lord Shankar (Shiva) and on the right hand side a temple for lord Ram. Walk little further and you will see red and white gates built by Acharya Satguru Teoonram Ji Maharaj. On top the gates Agni teertham is written. The sea at Agni Teertham is very calm and water is very shallow. You should take bath in the clean blue waters of Bay of Bengal. This place is hold very holy as Ram after killing Ravan in Lanka came here and took bath. Typically people first take bath here and then go to visit Sri Ramanathaswamy temple.

The beach here has been embanked after Agni Teertham with tiles and railing so you can walk at least 1 km on the sea side up extended bridge into the sea. However, the entrance to the bridge is closed now. You can see some ships, steamers or small fishing boats on the sea here.

The last and the most important place we visited in Rameswaram is Sri Ramanathaswamy temple. This temple is has a wonderful architecture with four corridors surrounding the temple. The temple is said to be more than 12000 years old and built by Lord Ram. It is said that, sri Ram wanted to pray to lord Shiva and asked to Hanuman (Anjeneya) to bring a Shivalinga (idol of lord Shiva) from mount Kailash in the Himalayas. As Hanuman was late, meanwhile Sita built a Shivalinga with sand and Sri Ram prayed there. On his return, Hanuman was upset that his Shivalinga will not be worshiped. He tried to remove the sand Shivalinga but he could not. Then Lord Ram told him, that his Shivalinga will be first worshiped and then the sand Shivalinga will be worshiped. So we can infer that the installation of the idol was very old but the present structure of the temple is not that old. The temple was mainly built by the Sethupathi kings. However, apart from them many others also contributed in restoration and re-novation.

The temple has beautiful gopurams (tower) typical of Tamil Nadu but they are not colourful as in Madurai. Here the towers are painted in cream colour. It also has 108 teerthams (small tank) which are dedicated to sages and others. I saw people bathing with those water as they are considered holy. At the entrance of the temple you can keep your shoes. the other side of the entrance has a small market which sell religious artifacts and sea artifacts like shankh (sea shell) etc. We bought few items from shop # 32, 37. But make sure that you bargain your heart out. Also, if you are visiting Kanyakumari, I suggest you buy sea artifacts from there as it is cheap there.

Also, note that photography is not allowed in the inner shrine area.

One go for special darshan for Rs 50 per person which allows you to view the Shivalinga closely. The way to the special darshan is fitted with nice paintings and description of Lord Ram’s Vanavas (journey in the forest). The room in which the Shivalinga is kept, only deeps(soil lamp) are lit. It is a beautiful to see the Shivalinga amidts deeps and a silver snake keeping its hood on top of the Shivalinga.

Official website: www.rameswaramtemple.org

You should also see Kodandaramaswamy temple, Ramar Padam, Dhanushkodi which I could not visit.

Hotel:

1. Hotel Royal Park
Semma Madam,
Ramnad Highway, Rameswaram – 23526
Ph: (04573) 221680, 221323
Cell: 94431 59722, 9500459009
Website: http://www.hotelroyalpark.in

2. Hotel Tamil Nadu
TTDC, Rameshwaram

3. Hotel Hare Rama Hare Krishna
15/24,Ramar Padham Road
Thittakudi Street
Rameswaram

4. Gujarat Bhavan
Sanadhi Street
Rameshwaram

I suggest you stay at Rameswaram for at least 2 days so that you can see everything at peace and enjoy the place.

Around 5 pm we started our backyard journey. We were lucky to see the sun set from Pamban bridge. We reached Madurai again by 9.45 pm.

Day 1: Tour of Madurai