You must have definitely heard the name Rameshwaram either from your parents or grandparents. Primarily because Rameshwaram is one of the chaar dhaams of Hindu religion along with Dwarka, Puri and Badrinath. I have heard so much about these dhaams from my maternal grandfather. He would always say until you visit all these dhaams, the purpose of your life isn’t fulfilled. He also emphasized on the fact that visit to these dhaams is purely based on the calls from the divine forces and not on your wish. Irrespective of your planning and plotting until the God himself calls you, you will never make it to these auspicious dhaams.
When I was planning my trip to Rameshwaram, it attracted a lot of eyeballs. I mean I could have gone anywhere in the country and yet I was planning for Rameshwaram, which is stereotyped to be an elderly affair. But the thought of divine forces calling gyred in my mind and I went ahead thinking it could be a mild insinuation from the mighty God himself.
I visited Rameshwaram as part of my ten days long South India odyssey. I had dedicated two days to this holy city, arrival inclusive. Rameshwaram is situated on the Panbam Island in the state of Tamil Nadu which is connected to the mainland by Panbam Bridge. Panbam Bridge is an architectural marvel and I will talk more about the bridge in a separate post.
Rameshwaram is well connected to the nearby cities by road, rail and air.
By Road: I drove from Kanyakumari and it took me about 6 hours to cover approximately 300 kilometres. Apart from this the city is well connected to major cities in Tamil Nadu like Madurai (169 km), Tiruchirappalli (271 km), Thanjavur (231 km), and Chennai (600 km) via frequent buses. The distance mentioned are approximate.
By Air: The nearest domestic airport is in Madurai, once you reach Madurai you can hire a private cab to Rameshwaram. The nearest international airport is in Trivandrum and from there you can either take a train or go for 9-10 hours long road trip. Though there is no direct train from Trivandrum, you can find a connecting train from Kanyakumari.
By Train: Rameshwaram is seamlessly connected with all the above mentioned major cities of South India. You might or might not find a direct train but with some easy permutation and combination, you can easily reach Rameshwaram.
Where to stay in Rameshwaram
Rameshwaram has no dearth of hotels and guesthouses. From the luxurious “Hyatt Place” to budget hotels, Ramehswaram has a lot of options. Due to peak season, I had to put up in two different hotels during my two-day trip. I stayed at SR Residency and Hotel Shivshakti, and both these hotels come highly recommended. You can find more deets about them on google.
Things to do in Rameshwaram
This comes as a no-brainer because this usually is the sole reason why hundreds and thousands of disciples visit Rameshwaram every year. All the three activities find mention together because they all can be done one after another. A visit to Ramnathswamy Temple checks off one of the pious chaar dhaams of Hindu religion. The temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva as also boasts the coveted listing of the twelve jyotirlingas in the country.
You cannot come to Rameshwaram and not visit this temple. Even if you aren’t religious, visit this temple just to live through the peaceful experience. Also, the temple’s architecture is astounding and you are definitely going to sprain your neck admiring the colourful floral murals on the walls and ceilings of the temple. Ramanathaswamy Temple houses the longest temple corridor in the world, which is 197 meters long and 133 meters broad and stands with 1200 massive granite columns. I went for the darshan and my experience was sublime, you can read more about that here.
Take a walk by Agnee Theertham
You will not find this activity listed anywhere as something to do specifically in Rameshwaram but it has made it to my list. It is believed that the first kund/theertham lies submerged under the sea and hence the 22 kund snanam ritual starts from taking a dip at Agri Theertham. You are going to visit Agnee Theertham as part of your 22 kund snanam but I am urging you to take some time out and visit the theertham again, maybe in the evening, or if you had your 22 kund snanam in the evening then maybe early in the morning. The shore will always be bustling with people.
Agnee Theertam is a living example of what hope and prayers look like. If you just spare ten minutes of your time you will find people everywhere murmuring some or the other prayer. The air has a collective energy which permeates through your skin. And infuses directly into your mind, body, soul and heart. There is a certain fragrance in the air, I can’t tell you what kind. I can’t come up with a name for that but it lingers on you long after you leave the place.
Panchmukhi (five faced) Hanuman Temple:
Though Ramanathswamy temple is the main temple in Rameshwaram there are many more sprawled across the town. Just a few kilometres away from the main temple, lies the famous Panchmukhi Hanuman Temple. The five faces are the five manifestations of Lord Hanuman. The idol is carved out of Senthooram Stone, which was very precious and rare in the ancient times. The temple also houses floating stones which were used to make the Ram Setu (bridge) by Lord Hanuman’s army of monkeys. You can push the stones down with all your force and they come right back up defying all physical laws of nature.
The temple prohibits the usage of a camera inside the premises.
Spend the evening at Dhanushkodi
Dhanushkodi has been one of the most fulfilling experiences of my life. Hence it has to make it to this list. A visit to Dhanuskodi, located just 25 kilometres away from Rameshwaram, in the state Tamil Nadu will leave you astounded with its soul-stirring stories. I couldn’t get enough of the scenic view of the journey from Rameshwaram to Dhanuskodi. Butter smooth roads with glistening water of the Bay of Bengal on one side and the Indian Ocean on the other.
While all things pretty and merry one still can’t get rid of the emptiness that settles in the heart seeing the ruins and broken structures of Dhanushkodi. What a beautiful place it would have been if it wasn’t for that hapless day of the tsunami. I have written about my Dhanushkodi experience in length, you can read it here.
Visit Dr APJ Abdul Kalam National Memorial
This is one place which you will not find listed anywhere. Purely because of its recent inauguration is the Dr APJ Abdul Kalam National Memorial. Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated this memorial on July 27th, 2017 and it is completely dedicated to Dr APJ Abdul Kalam. The memorial houses Mr Kalam’s grave and his numerous personal (clothing, laptop, footwear, utensils etc) and professional belongings.
The memorial takes you on an interesting walk and gives an insightful look at Mr Kalam’s life.
The walls of the memorial are adorned with hundreds of his pictures (real-life pictures and paintings). You can also see all his educational and merit certificates on other walls of the main hall. The simplicity and calmness of the memorial is a direct reflection of Mr Kalam’s life. Outside the main hall but within the memorial premises, there are installations of Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV). These are the representation of Mr Kalam’s work in DRDO.
The memorial prohibits the usage of the camera inside the premises. Also, anything bigger than a standard wallet size is not allowed inside the memorial. There is no entry fee for the memorial. But looking at the selfie crazy crowd I wondered if that was the right move or not.
Make a dedicated visit to Pamban Bridge
Panbam Bridge connects Rameshwaram to the mainland. Pamban Bridge is an engineering marvel and is practically India’s answer to London’s London Tower Bridge. However, I will be writing about the bridge in length in a separate post. But I just couldn’t stop myself from listing it here. It is India’s first sea bridge and also boasted the title of being the longest sea bridge in India. Until the opening of Bandra-Worli sea link on Mumbai’s western coast.
The design of the bridge is mostly conventional. But has a double leaf bascule section in the middle of the bridge. This section opens up to allow movement of ships and ferries. If you are lucky you might witness the opening of the leaf and movement of the ships through the bridge. I was fortunate enough to watch the action live. And it was one of the most memorable moments of my life primarily because I couldn’t see the same action in London though I tried so many times.
What London couldn’t give me, my own country generously granted me.
These were the few things that I did in Rameshwaram. Though the internet is bustling with “Things to do in Rameshwaram” but one always has to curate the plan as per their own actuals. I have had a sublime experience in Rameshwaram. A visit to Ramnathswamy temple gave me religious high, the 22 Kund Snanam enlightened my mythological repertoire, the architectural delightful sights of Panbam Bridge made me pat myself for being born in this great country, the struggling fishermen of Dhanushkodi ignited my fighting spirit and the ensuing gorgeous sunset promised me a bigger and better tomorrow. The two days have rekindled vagaries of emotions inside me and I have come back as a different soul.
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