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Arulmigu Ramanatha Swami

According to the Hindu mythology i.e. the story of Ramayana, Lord Rama performed thanksgiving rituals to Lord Shiva after the battle at Sri Lanka and his triumph over the demon king Ravana. Owing to this Rameshwaram attracts Vaishnavites (worshippers of Lord Vishnu) and Saivites (worshippers of Lord Shiva) alike.

The nearest airport is at Madurai, at a distance of 154-km. Rameshwaram is well connected by trains from all the major cities of India. State transport buses are available from the railway station to the various places in and around Rameshwaram. For local transportation taxis, auto-rickshaws, cycle-rickshaws and tongas are available. Also city bus service is available in the island.

Our organization has its centre at Sri Kanchi Kamakoti Peetham premises.

For more authentic information on Rameswaram please visit Sri Kanchi Kamakoti Peetham web site.

Rameswaram, (also spelt as Ramesvaram, Rameshwaram or Ramisseram) is a town and a second grade municipality in the Ramanathapuram district in the South Indian state of Tamil Nadu. It is located on Pamban Island separated from mainland India by the Pamban channel and is about 50 kilometres from Mannar Island, Sri Lanka. It is situated in the Gulf of Mannar, at the very tip of the Indian peninsula. Pamban Island, also known as Rameswaram Island, is connected to mainland India by the Pamban Bridge. Rameswaram is the terminus of the railway line from Chennai and Madurai. Together with Varanasi, it is considered to be one of the holiest places in India to Hindus, and part of the Char Dham pilgrimage.According to Hindu mythology, this is the place from where the Hindu god Rama built a bridge, across the sea to Lanka to rescue his wife Sita from her abductor Ravana. The Ramanathaswamy Temple dedicated to the Hindu god Shiva is located at the centre of the town and is closely associated with Rama. The temple along with the town is considered a holy pilgrimage site for both shaivas and vaishnavas.[1][2] Rameswaram is the closest point to reach Sri Lanka and geological evidence suggests that the Rama Sethu was a former land connection between India and Sri Lanka. The town has been in the news over the Sethusamudram Shipping Canal Project, Kachchatheevu, Sri Lankan Tamil refugees and attacks by the Sri Lankan navy on local fishermen for alleged cross border activities.[3] Rameswaram is administered by a municipality established in 1994. The town covers an area of 53 km2 and had a population of 44,856 as of 2011. Tourism and fishery employ the majority of workforce in Rameswaram.Rameswara means "Lord of Rama" in Sanskrit, an epithet of Shiva, the presiding deity of the Ramanathaswamy Temple.[4] According to Hindu epic Ramayana, Rama, the seventh avatar of the god Vishnu, prayed to Shiva here to absolve any sins that he might have committed during his war against the demon-king Ravana in Sri Lanka.[5][2] According to the Puranas (Hindu scriptures), upon the advice of sages, Rama along with his wife Sita and his younger brother Lakshmana, installed and worshipped the lingam (an iconic symbol of Shiva) here to expiate the sin of Brahmahatya incurred while killing of the Brahmin Ravana.[6] To worship Shiva, Rama wanted to have the largest lingam and directed his monkey lieutenant Hanuman to bring it from Himalayas.[7][2] Since it took longer to bring the lingam, Sita built a small lingam, which is believed to be the one in the sanctum of the temple.[7] This account is not supported by the original Ramayana authored by Valmiki,[8] nor in the Tamil version of the Ramayana authored by Tamil poet, Kambar (1180–1250 CE). Support for this account is found in some of the later versions of the Ramayana, such as the one penned by Tulasidas (15th century).[9][10] Sethu Karai is a place 22 km before the island of Rameswaram from where Rama is believed to have built a floating stone bridge, the Ramsetu bridge, that further continued to Dhanushkodi in Rameswaram till Talaimannar in Sri Lanka.[5][11] According to another version, as quoted in Adhyatma Ramayana, Rama installed the lingam before the construction of the bridge to Lanka.[12]

Ramanathaswamy Temple tower, Pamban Bridge, and a set of fishing boats.

 

Temple contributions and donations from Hindu kings

The narrow flow of the river at such deep valley is fine looking and more pleasant near Srisailam where it is called as Pathalaganaga. Actually the river takes two repeated bends at Pathalaganga with in a short distance and makes a large stretch of high Plateau in each bend. The right part of it we have Srisailam and whereas on the left there is ruined Chandraguptanagara which is mentioned in the Skandapurana and also some of the celebrated Literary works of 12th to 16th centuries.

In the traditional Hindu mythology, this Kshetram is identified as the Kailasa on the earth and named as ILA - KAILASAM. Besides its mythical antiquity, Srisailam is also having a hoary historical antiquity. Starting from the Satavahanas who were the earliest rulers of Andhradesa, the region around Srisailam appears as a prominent religious centre and it continues to be so into the present times. The inscriptional evidences available at Srisailam are of the 12th century A.D and afterwards, which is very intriguing. However, the inscriptions belonging to various early historical places found in various parts of the Deccan and Andhra Pradesh, testify to its historical antiquity starting from first century A.D. In this small book the temple complex of Srisailam is analysed from the view point of chronology, art and architecture, sculpture and iconography.

A modern image of the temple corridor

The temple priests are Mahastra Brahmins who get Diksha from Sringeri Mutt.[25] Shortage of priests has been reported as there are 5 priests to manage the 13 shrines within the temple.[25] The shortage is more pronounced during the 12 day Maha Shivaratri festival when the festival deities of the temple are taken in procession.[25] The temple comes under the renovation and consecration of the 630 temples planned to be renovated by the Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments Department of the Government of Tamil Nadu.[26] The temple authorities have planned to renovate and widen the pathways to the 22 holy theerthams of the temple.[26] The consecration of the temple is planned during 2013.[26] The temple is one of the temples offering Free meal scheme of the government, which provides meals to devotees of the temple. A pilgrim house is planned by the government to extend the scheme to more pilgrims.[26].The temple authorities have planned to renovate and widen the pathways to the 22 holy theerthams of the temple.[26] The consecration of the temple is planned during 2013.[26] The temple is one of the temples offering Free meal scheme of the government, which provides meals to devotees of the temple. A pilgrim house is planned by the government to extend the scheme to more pilgrims.[26]The temple priests are Mahastra Brahmins who get Diksha from Sringeri Mutt.[25] Shortage of priests has been reported as there are 5 priests to manage the 13 shrines within the temple.[25] The shortage is more pronounced during the 12 day Maha Shivaratri festival when the festival deities of the temple are taken in procession.[25] The temple comes under the renovation and consecration of the 630 temples planned to be renovated by the Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments Department of the Government of Tamil Nadu.[26] The temple authorities have planned to renovate and widen the pathways to the 22 holy theerthams of the temple.[26]

A modern image of the temple corridor

Adi Sankara, the Guru of Advaita, who is believed to have started the Char Dhams

Char Dham

The temple is one of the holiest Hindu Char Dham (four divine sites) sites comprising Badrinath, Puri and Dwarka.[12] Though the origins are not clearly known, the Advaita school of Hinduism established by Sankaracharya, who created Hindu monastic institutions across India, attributes the origin of Char Dham to the seer.[13] The four monasteries lie across the four corners of India and their attendant temples are Badrinath Temple at Badrinath in the North, Jagannath Temple at Puri in the East, Dwarakadheesh Temple at Dwarka in the West and Ramanathaswamy Temple at Rameswaram in the South. Though ideologically the temples are divided between the sects of Hinduism, namely Saivism and Vaishnavism, the Char Dham pilgrimage is an all Hindu affair.[14] There are four abodes in Himalayas called Chota Char Dham (Chota meaning small): Badrinath, Kedarnath, Gangotri and Yamunotri - all of these lie at the foot hills of Himalayas.[15] The name Chota was added during the mid of 20th century to differentiate the original Char Dhams.[citation needed] The journey across the four cardinal points in India is considered sacred by Hindus who aspire to visit these temples once in their lifetime.[16] Traditionally the trip starts at the eastern end from Puri, proceeding in clockwise direction in a manner typically followed for circuambulation in Hindu temples.[16]

 

Temple Tanks

There are sixty-four Tīrthas (holy water bodies) in and around the island of Rameswaram, Tamil Nadu, India.[8] According to Skānda Purāṇa, twenty-four of them are important.[9] Bathing in these Tīrthas is a major aspect of the pilgrimage to Rameswaram and is considered equivalent to penance.[10] Twenty-two of the Tīrthas are within the Rāmanāthasvāmī Temple.[11] The number 22 indicates the 22 arrows in Rama's quiver.[4] The first and major one is called Agni Theertham, the sea (Bay of Bengal).[2]

Agni Theertham - the primary sea shore associated with the temple