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Rameshwar Temple | History, Architecture & facts of Rameshwar Jyotirling

Rameshwar Temple is one of the 12 Jyotirlinga temples, located in Pamban island, Ramanathapuram district , Tamil Nadu. The presiding deity is Ramanathaswamy, meaning ‘Master of Lord Rama’. It is a very important pilgrimage destination, one that will absolve devotees of their sins bringing them into the inner fold of the Lord. This Jyotirlinga temple forms a part of the Char Dham set of Vaishnavite temples defined by Adi Shankaracharya the other three being Dwaraka, Badrinath, Dwarka and Puri. A visit here is an enlightening and amazing experience, primarily due to the surrounding sea shore environment and the massive theerthams of holy water bodies in the vicinity of the actual complex.

According to ancient Hindu texts, it is here that Lord Rama prayed to Lord Shiva to absolve the sin of killing Ravana, who is a Brahmin. He created a lingam, through advice from sages, and along with his wife Goddess Sita and brother Lakshmana worshiped it to remove the sin of Brahmahatya. Due to this, the temple is considered to be one of the most holy places in the country for Hindu pilgrims and is included in the har Dham pilgrimage.

Rameshwar Temple

Rameshwar TempleImage Resource : bhajanradio.com

Visiting this place is indeed mesmerizing because it involves crossing the huge water body on train which connects Pamban Island with the mainland. The temple is located in this island and is a marvel to explore. It is considered as not only an important Jyotirlingas place but also one that is part of the Char Dham pilgrimage. Another name for the Pamban Island is Rameswara Island.

It’s said the main deity Ramalingam who was formed by Goddess Sita from sand materials. The Vishwalingam was brought from Kailash by Lord Hanuman. The special significance of the Shiva Linaga Ramanathswamy is that is one that was made by Goddess Sita using her hands.

It is indeed interesting to search through the annals of history and find out the original name of this temple which is Gandhamadhanam. The Shiva Linga is indeed majestic and spiritually powerful. Such is the spiritual importance of this temple that is is considered as one of the holiest pilgrim places in the country next to Kasi. As you explore the temple, you simply cannot have enough of it as it allures you with its grandiose corridors and its supremely divine theerthams of holy bodies. Actually the temple has 64 theerthams but out of them 22 are said to be ones with holy water. Each of these theerthams has a unique taste, which is a quality that marks it to be such a unique and spiritually uplifting Temple. It is said that kings of the Pandyan Dynasty contributed significantly to the temple structure in the 12th century and Jeyaveera Cinkaiariyan, his successor Gunaveera Cinkaiariyan the Kings of Jaffna Kingdom maintained the inner sanctum of the temple.

What is most striking about the temple is its massive structure which spans over such a vast expanse. At various times, different dynasties contribute to the temple and enhanced its beauty, making it grander, thus showing the deep devotion that it evoked in their hearts. The vast corridors, huge pillars and the loveliness of the shrine coupled with the unusual amount of water bodies that are dispersed throughout the place, makes it to be a place that has powerful divinity, one that makes a strong and lasting impression on the devotee. There are many rituals conducted throughout the day and you have to attend each one by making a prior booking. Such is the huge crowds seen here during Maharatri and other key festivals is huge bringing out the utmost devotion that people have and how much they long to visit the temple for salvation.

History of Rameshwar Jyotirling

It is at this very place some 22 km from Rameshwaram Isalnd that Lord Rama built a bridge with help from Lord Hanuman to cross over the sea of Lanka and reach Lanka to rescue his wife, Goddess Sita. The temple is situated right in the middle of the town and is a majestic and impressive structure.

On his way back, he came back here and wanted to pray to Lord Shiva to gain pardon for his sin of killing Raavana, a Brahmin. In order to do this, he asked Lord Hanuman to get a lingam for him, but seeing that it was taking time for him to bring it, Sita built the Lingam with her own hand taking sand from the sea shore. Hence in the inner sanctum, you can see both structure, the Lingam made by Goddess Sita and also the Lingam that Lord Hanuman brought for Lord Rama to worship. The bridge that Lord Rama built from Sethu Kerai, which is 22 km before Rameswaram Island continues to Dhanushkodu and from there till Talaimannar, Sri Lanka.

Archeitecture of Rameshwar Temple

Hallmark of the temple is its main tower which reaches a height of 53 meters. The soaring height of the Rajagopuram is an interesting and alluring aspect of the temple structure, making it look very grand and majestic. This temple’s structure is the hallmark of durable and herculean building construction, something that simply cannot be seen in any other temple structure.

In the temple tank hall, you will see the most impressive and majestic of pillars totaling 1212 in number and the height of each goes upto 30 feet. The pillars are built from the floor to the center of the roof and they are an architecture marvel, having the most indicate and majestic of sculptures. Those wanting to study the building styles of temples of the South will find this one to be enormous, beautiful and also the perfect specimen of South Style architecture. A huge array of columns simply cannot be found anywhere else and it is this particular quality that sets the temple apart from other south temples.

Such is the marvel of the temple’s architecture that you will have a feeling that is made from concrete but in fact the material that was used to make it is actually granite stones. The entire place gives you the feeling of being in a large chess board. The huge granite stones that were used to build the temple were actually shipped here and this happened in 1414 CE.

Brilliancy of the temple’s architecture can be seen in the corridors which when viewed from one end to the other show as if their pillars meet at a single dot, showcase the artistry of ancient architectural skills. The massive pillars that support the temple structure have made the temple into one that is strong, capable of enduring the onslaught of weather elements. On each pillar, you can see some of the most artistic carvings, which reveals the craftsmanship of ancient artisans.

As you explore the temple’s interiors, you will see that in addition to the main Ramanathaswamy shrine, there are also shrines for Parvathavardhini, Mahalaxmi, Visalakshi, Mahaganapathi, Santanaganpathi, Subrahmanya, Nataraja, Anjaneya, Ramanathswamy. The most striking aspect of the shrine is the material which is used to construct it which is black granite stone and its Vimana is covered with gold plating or sheets.

Inside the temple complex, you can see 22 teerthams or divine water bodies in the form of wells and tanks. Those coming here must bathe in them before entering the temple and praying to the Lord.

A very majestic quality or aspect of this temple is its corridors, which all together forms the longest in the world with a length of 3850 feet.

The massive Nandi statue is indeed very impressive, with it reaching a height of 17 feet and having 12 feet width. Materials used to make the Nandi are a combination of sea shells, lime stones and bricks. The majestic main tower in the east rises to a height of 126 feet and ha 9 tiers while the west tower has a height of 28 feet and has five tiers.

Rameshwar Temple Facts

  • It is the only Jyotirlinga temple in which there are two lingas – ‘Ramalingam’ and ‘Viswalingam’.

  • Ramalingam was created by Goddess Sita and the Viswalingam was brought by Lord Hanuman

  • In this temple, Lord Rama prayed with Goddess Sita and Lord hanuman to wash away the sin of killing Ravana, a Brahmin and a sincere devotee of Lord Shiva

  • Lord Rama wanted a big Lingam to pray for absolving his sin of killing ravana, hence he ordered Lord hanuman to bring it from the Himalayas

  • The temple has 22 Theerthams which are actually the 22 arrows of Lord Rama and every devotee must bathe in each of these water bodies before visiting the shrine.

  • The Lingam built by Goddess Sita was done because Lord Hanuman delayed in bringing his Linga

How to Reach Rameshwar

Air – Reach the Madurai airport and then reach the railway station here by cab, take the train to Ramwswaram train station.

Train – You can book a train to Chennai main station and from here reach the Ramwswaram train station. Take a cab or bus to reach the temple

Road – Many buses operate specifically to the Rameswaram temple on which you can do booking according to your convenient date.

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