“Rama’s Eshwaram”, Rameswaram is the temple dedicated to Lord Shiva. Also known as Ramanathaswamy Temple (temple of Rama’s Lord), it is located on Pamban Island, in the Ramanathapuram district of Tamil Nadu, India. The temple represents one of the 12 Jyotirlingas. Moreover, the temple is also one of the Char Dhams (four holiest abodes) of Hinduism along with Badrinath, Dwarka, and Jagannath Puri.
The temple is not only signified as a Dham, but is as well the prominent destinations for Kashi Yatra. It is said that the yatra of Kashi is incomplete without the yatra of Rameswaram.
Every bit of this temple is related to the incident of the eminent epic Ramayana, and thus, portraits the perfect example of Shaivism and Vaishnavism unity. It was Lord Rama who installed the lingam; however, the entire construction of the temple was led down by several rulers over the centuries. Mainly the temple houses two lingams known as Ramalingam and Shivalingam. Shivalingam is still worshipped as the first to preserve the words of Lord Rama.
According to the Ramayana, After the victory in Lanka and Ravana‘s downfall, Rama with Devi Sita and his army returned to Rameshwaram. By killing Ravana, Rama had committed the sin, because Ravana was not only the king but was also a Brahmin. And as per Hindu scriptures, killing a Brahmin is deemed as the most dreadful sin called Brahmahathi Dosha. Thus, Rama prayed to Lord Shiva to absolve his sins.
As advised by Rishi Agastya, Lord Rama decided to establish Shivalinga in Rameswaram, and perform the rituals to wash off Brahmahati Dosha. Therefore, Rama directed Hanuman to bring the Shivalinga from Mt. Kailash. The rituals had to be performed within a specific time period, but Hanuman delayed in bringing the Shivalingam. Hence, Mata Sita created a small lingam from the sand available on the beach, which is called Ramalingam. Ram further established the great Shivalinga of black stone near the small lingam brought by Hanuman, shortly after the establishment of Ramalingam, which is considered to be the shrine of Jyotirlinga.
According to the inscription available in the temple, it is believed that the ancient shrine at Rameshwaram was enlarged by King Parakramabahu of Sri Lanka in the 12th century and additions were made by the Panday’s, the Nayak rulers of Madurai followed by the kings of Ramanand. Many dynasties came and fell and each of them put their own input into the temple, during the construction period. However, one thing that did not change during all those constructions was its Dravidian style of architecture.
Architecture and Features
Ramanathaswamy Temple is the finest example of Dravidian architecture. The unique features in the construction of the temple seem to be endless. The temple is spread over an area of 15 acres, has lofty gopurams, massive walls, and a colossal Nandi. The temple compound is located inside high walls and accessed through tall towers known as Gopuras on the sides. There are two gopurams, one located in the East and one located in the West. The one in the East is 78 feet high with five tiers. The one in the West is 126 feet high and has nine tiers and is known as raja gopuram.
Another famous feature of Ramanathaswamy Temple is sixty-four wells (teerthams) in and around the premises of the temple. According to the Skanda Purana, twenty-four of them are important. Among them, 22 wells spread throughout the premises. The surprising fact is that water from each well tastes different even if they are very near to each other, and have curative features. So that Devotees take bath in teerthams before they enter the temple and it is believed that these holy waters can help in observing salvation and washing off all the sins and regrets in one’s life.
Rameshwaram temple consists of three types of corridors with a total length of 3850 feet. The first corridor is the oldest as compared with the others. Built-in the 12th century, and renovated over various periods, the second corridor has 108 Shivalinga’s as well as a statue of Ganapathi. The third corridor is the show stopper with an enormous 1212 pillars, each of them measuring 30 feet in height and has a height of close to 23 feet and is naturally said to be the longest corridor in the world.
The outer set of corridors is 6.9 m in height and expenses for 400 feet to the west and as many feet to the east and some 640 feet to the north and south. The corridor of the Rameshwaram temple is known for its attractive nature and in no other temples of India, such a beautiful feature could be seen. This beautiful structure adds up the devotion in the minds of the devotees. The serenity of that place is a captivating one. The neatness of the temple is also a notable feature.
The Rameswaram Temple is one of the historic temples of India and the devotees come from abroad to know the magnificence, sanctity, architecture, and history of this temple.
(Last Updated On: June 8, 2020)