Rameswaram Island is hallowed by the epic Ramayanam. A devout Hindu, who visits Banaras, is expected to visit Rameswaram also for the culmination of his quest for salvation. Rama, sanctified this place by worshipping Lord Shiva after the war against Ravana. Therefore, it is held sacred by both Saivities and Vainavities. It is one of the major marine food centres in the South, much of its fish and prawn catch being exported. An Indo-Norwegian fisheries project is functioning at Mandapam for the development of fishing industry in this region on modern lines.
Rameswaram is an island in the Gulf of Mannar and a major pilgrimage centre. Belief is the those who go to Varanasi (Kashi) have to consummate their pilgrimage at Rameswaram. It is a holy site, where Lord Rama of the epic Raayana performed a puja (worship) to Lord Shiva on his return from Lanka after killing Ravana. this island is therefore sacred for both Saiviates and Vaishnavaites. The Ramanathaswamy Temple at the core of the town is the main attraction here. The main activities in the town are centered on this temple. The main festivals celebrated are the Car Festival (February/March) and Thirukalyanam (July/August).
Ramanathapuram is about 40km from Rameswaram, this ancient town was ruled by Sethupathis. The 17-century Ramalinga Vilasam Palace with mural paintings, the museum having several weapons and the tomb of Thyumanaswamigal are its main attractions.It is about 12km from Ramanathapuram is the famous Vaishnavaite temple dedicated to Adi Jaganatha Perumal of Thirupullani.
Rameswaram Tour Information
The legend goes that hanuman, the Chief of the monkeys was sent to Mount Kailas to bring a Lingam(Siva). Hanuman was delayed on the way. But Lord Siva had to be worshipped at a fixed hour. And so, Sita moulded a Lingam for Rama’s worship, which came to be called Ramanatha.
Ramanathasamy Temple, which is close to the sea on the eastern side of the Island is renowned for magnificent corridors with massive sculptured pillars lining it. The corridors are the longest in India. It is 197 metres long East to West, 133 meters in length South to North. The temple has tower (Gopuram) 38.4 metres high. The temple as it stands today was built by different rulers at different periods from the 12th century AD onwards. The temple is 264 metres in length and 200 metres in breadth.
It is a gem of Dravidian architecture, famos for its impressive corridor with massive sculptured pillars lining it. The 53m high gopuram and 22 theerthams (tanks) within the complex are the later additions to this originally the 12-century shrine, started by the Sethupathis. The legend about this temple is interesting. Temple enquiry Phone: 0221371-221223. Timing 05.00 to 13.00 and 15.00 to 20.00 hr daily.
This is another famous temple about 3km from the extreme tip of the Island. Legend states that Vibishana surrendered to Rama at this spot. The idols of Sri Rama, Sita, Lakshamana, Hanuman and Vibishana are here. There is a lovely bathing pool at Dhanushkodi on the very tip of the peninsula, deserted except for friendly fishers. About 12km southeast of Rameswaram, this temple dedicated to Vishnu was the only structure that survived the 1964 cyclone, which washed away the rest of Dhanushkodi. The legend marks it as the spot where Vibhishana, Ravana's brother, surrendered to Rama. The temple has the icons of Rama, Sita, Lakshman, Hanuman and Vibhishana.
About 6km beyond the southernmost tip of this island, Dhanushkodi, has a fine beach and a lovely bathing pool. Buses ply (hourly departure) from the local bus stand for this place. Auto rickshaws are also available.
This is one for the bacred places for Hindus. Here nine planets known as “Navabhaskanas” in Sanskrit are immersed in the sea. Legends say that Lord name worshipped here on his way to Sri Lanka.
Rameswaram Trip Information
The Gandhamathana Parvatham (Hillock)
It is situated to the north of the temple on the highest point in the Island. It is a two storyed Mandapam where Rama’s feet(Padams) ar placed on a chakra which attracts pilgrims. It is 5km from the Main temple.
Agnitheertham is about 25km from Rameswaram. A calm bay sacred to Hindus who believe that a bath n these holy waters washes away their sins. Agnitheertham, the calm, shallow water spread of the sea, hardly 100m in front of the magnificent temple gopuram is sacred to pilgrims. They take a bath here before entering the temple. A dip here is believed to remove the sins of the pilgrims.
It is believed that the lord Rama washed his jada (jair) here to purify himself before worshipping Sri Ramalinga, on his way back after killing Ravana. 3km from the main temple is the Hanuman Temple, a place where Hanuman told Rama about Sita's well being. The floating stone, 'sethu bandanam' used in building the Sethu Bridge is worth a visit.
The Southernmost tip of the island Dhanushkodi was completely washed away by the 1964 cyclone. But the Kothandaramasamy Temple here remains intact. It can be reached by the road from Rameswaram.
The waters around the islands abound not only in fish but also in coral reef. The vegetable gardens of coral reefs and a few picturesque located off the island allure those who seek sun, sand and sea holidays. It is in short, an island paradise of golden sands and gently swaying coconut palms of shady tamarind trees. The entire island is ideal for picnickers and excursionists.
The island lies to the west of the Pamban Bridge between the mainland and the island. It is a paradise for Biologist. Scholars from far and near come to this island throughout the year for research and study. There are a number of Islands in the area around Kurusadai Island. It is about 20km from Rameswaram via Mandapam. One should approach fisheries department to go to this island.
Mandapam is about 19km before Rameswaram on Ramanathapuram-Rameswaram (NH49), Mandapam is a sleepy, predominantly a Muslim fishing village. During the colonial period, there was a Sri Lankan Govt. quarantine camp here for passengers (mainly tea estate workers) proceeding to Ceylon. An Indo-Norwegian Plant located here produces fishmeal. The Marine Biological Research Centre is also here. To its south lies a chain of small coral areas of India. The Kurasadai Island west of the Pamban Bridge, between the mainland and the island can be reached via Mandapam, about 20km from Rameswaram. Marine wealth abound here of particular interest for Marine Biologists and nature lovers includes coral reef, starfish, cabs, sponges, sea cucumbers, algae and sea cow (dugong). It is possible to take a boat for a cruise through the mangrove marshes to Kurusadai Island. The Gulf of Mannar has been declared as a biosphere reserve. It is a terminal point for Road transport. Indo Norwegian fisheries project is located here and one has to go to Kurusadai Island from this place. It is 19km from Rameswaram.
A hillock situated 3km north of the temple is the highest point on the island. There is a two-storied mandapam, containing an imprint of Rama's padham (feet) on a chakra that attracts pilgrims. The view of the entire island from this elevated point (30m high) is excellent. It is also believed to be the spot from where Hanuman took his leap across the narrow Palk Strait to Lanka.
Also called Indira Gandhi Bridge, the 2.2km long bridge connecting the isldnd of Rameswaram and the main land is the longest bridge in India constructed over a bay. Similarly, the railway bridge connecting the island is noted for its unique opening to pass the ships through the sea.
About 70km from Rameswaram a road to the south from Ramanatha-puram goes to a small coastal settlement of Kilakarai, inhibited mainly by Muslims, earlier a Dutch fortified town. The town is famous for its chank shells products. Nearby is Sethukkarai a place of Puranic importance. Hindus revere it, as they believe that Lord Rama is said to have constructed a bridge here over the seawaters to reach Lanka. The tomb of Sultan Ibrahim Syed Aulia, Erwadi Dargah nearby also attracts pilgrims from far off countries like Sri Lanka, Malaysia, and Singapore and is the site of popular Santhakoodu Festival in February-March.
72km from Rameswaram, Uthirakosamangai is a site of an ancient Shiva Temple, where the presiding deity is carved in emerald. The annual Aruthra Festival in December attracts a large number of devotees.
Other hop and stop place of interest around Rameswaram is the 17-century Oriyur Church (85km) built in memory of St John De Britto, a Portuguese Jesuit. Kanchirankulam (105km) is a virtual paradise fro bird lovers. The dargah of Saint Kutbu Sultan Sayeed at Erwadi (79km) is known for its spiritual healing.
Route-Madurai to Kanniyakumari the NH7 passes through the central part of the southern Tamil Nadu, just on the outskirts of Madurai. 8km to its south is Tirupparakundram, a cave shrine dedicated to Lord Subramanya. It is one of the six Arupadai Veedu (Abode of Lord). At tirumangalam, the NH7 turns left to the district headquarter of Virudunagar, 44km from Madurai, dominated by Nadars, known for dynamism and trading skills. Today it is a major commercial centre exporting edible oil, spices and cotton. 25km from here is the important industrial town of Sivakasi famous for match and firework industries, lithographic and offset printing. The road from Virudunagar continues south to Kovilpatti. A road to the east joins NH 45B and continues to Thoothukkudi, 72km.
Air : Madurai (172km) is the nearest airport connecting Chennai, Mumbai and Bengaluru.
Rail: Rail service connects Rameswaram to all major cities like Chennai, Madurai, Trichy, Coimbatore and Palakkad upto Manamadurai (125km). Railway enquiry: 04573-221226.
Road : Rameswaram is accessible from other parts of the south via NH- 49. The state owned and private operators ply a regular bus service via Mandapam (19km from Rameswaram) to Chennai (592km), Kanyakumari (295km), Madurai (172km). The central bus stand is 2km to the west of the town centre.
Town buses ply between the bus stand and the temple from early morning until late night. Auto rickshaws and cycle rickshaws are easily available.
Ramehswaram Distance Guide
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