Rameshwaram : A visit to Southern Tip

Welcome to my adventurous road trip to Rameshwaram

I frequently go to southern part of our country for business trip, however, mainly to big cities like Bengaluru, Chennai and Hyderabad. But this time it was different, I had to go Bengaluru and then Madurai. I am a great devotee to Lord Shiva, hence, when Madurai’s plan came into the picture I decided to visit the famous “Rameshwaram Temple” to seek his blessing.

While booking my flights, I took the liberty to book my return ticket from Madurai to Delhi on Monday, giving me Sunday to plan my visit for the temple, which is one of the holiest Hindu Char Dham and also one of the 12 Jyotirlinga shrines, where Shiva is worshipped in the form of a Jyotirlinga meaning “pillar of light”.

Post reaching Madurai, I met one of my friend, Sourabh, who was already there and convinced him to come along with me. We booked a cab from Hotel which cost us Rs. 4000 for a one-day trip including local sight scene. We began our journey on 9th February 2020 at 5:00 AM in the morning. Since our hotel was near to Highway, it took us only few minutes to catch the main highway going towards Rameshwaram. The distance from Madurai to Rameshwaram is about 175 km and takes around 3 hours and 30 minutes by road and with some halt at between you may take 4 to 5 hours. Believe me the serenity by the roads and its surrounding terrain is so beautiful that it is very hard to travel here without taking halts and admiring its artistry. My eyes thoroughly enjoyed the drive as we passed by villages, scenic coconut trees and greenery.

We reached Mandapam (Place on the Indian Main land) around 8:30 AM and suddenly what I saw seized my calmness and filled with curiosity and excitement. I could see the sea. And trust me, even if you have seen the sea 100 time, witnessing its presence again is always a new experience. And what would you say when you are going the witness the two mighty sea together; The Sea of Bay of Bengal and The Indian Ocean, the third-largest of the world’s oceanic divisions. We were about to meet the confluence of both.

Walking on the famous Pamban Road Bridge

Since we were travelling by road, we didn’t had the option for a thrilling train ride over India’s first and famous sea bridge “The Pamban Rail Bridge”, but we definitely had the option to enjoy the view and admire its beauty from the Road Bridge.

Allow me to give you a quick brief about Pamban Road Bridge. Its connects the National Highway (NH 49) with the Rameswaram island. It stands between the shores of Mandapam (Place on the Indian Main land) and Pamban ( Fisherman Town  in Rameswaram island). And it’s also stands parallel to the Pamban Rail Bridge. After the cyclone of 1964, A plan for a Road bridge parallel to the Existed Railway bridge was proposed by the Tamilnadu Government and with all the nitty gritty it was inaugurated by former Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi and was named as ANNAI INDIRA GANDHI ROAD BRIDGE.

This bridge is of two lanes and due to traffic vehicle are not allowed to stop in between, though, we could watch few vehicle taking the liberty of less policing and stopping by. Our cab driver suggested us to walk on the footpath and he will catch us ahead. It was great because it gave us full time and freedom to admire the scenic beauty and praise its marvelous.

Behold the beauty of Rameswaram Island from this bridge. The Spectacular view of sea, and nearby islands will leave you mesmerised. And the breath-taking view before your eyes from this beautiful bridge will swept you away and will leave you completely spellbound.

Rameswaram : The Kashi of South !!

We reached Rameshwaram by 9:30 AM, though it was first week of February we feel the hot as April first week. Our driver left us at parking near Rameshwaram Temple. From here we have to visit the nearby by own.

Agni Theertham: Taking a divine bath at sea

We strolled down the road by admiring the temple from outside towards Agni Theertham. Though it was casual from us that time, we only got know about it later that Agni theertham is one of the sacred baths in India and It is believed that bathing in this sea will rid one of his/her sins and make them pure. It was 5-minute walk and once we reached there we were at shore of enormous blue see. We could also see many holistic rituals specially those for the dead ancestors were getting performed on the shores. We have been told that before visiting the main temple and taking a sacred bath of 22 theertham, we should take a dip here and then proceed for the Rameshwaram Temple.

22 Theertham – Inside the temple

Post the holy sea bath we walked towards the main temple. We saw many panda’s standing before the temple entrance and asked them about the 22 theertham. They told us that there will chares of Rs. 300 per person. We negotiated and bargained at Rs. 100/person. Just for the sake of information, official charges for the same is Rs. 25/person. Anyways, He asked us to wait and after 10 minutes we were a group of 10 people, following him to take a holy bath of divine 22 theertham. Similarly, there were several other group with several other pandas.

You may google it to know more about this 22 theertham, as you may get more information than me; the only thing which I can tell you from a personal experience is, I really felt some mystic energy while taking the baths at every theertham one after another. I could saw the well from above and none looks deeper than 12-15 feet. I could saw the tiny fishes roaming in water. Pandas carrying small buckets tide up with ropes, fetching up the waters and throwing on to pilgrims, pilgrims following them from one theertham to another for the same rituals to accept the act as a blessing of Lord Shiva. Together, the whole scene was looking like a mystic to me and to add further on this, even after taking the bath from 22 different well, I didn’t even sneeze. It is said that the number 22 symbolizes the 22 arrows in Lord Rama’s quiver. It is believed that water in each theertham has different taste and temperature, having individual special significance. Sometime words can’t define everything, only the people present there can feel it and my experience of 22 theertham bath has something similar experience.

Rameshwaram Temple – One of the Char Dham

Rameshwaram Temple

Post taking the 22 theertham bath we headed to the main temple but to our surprise we have been stopped and told that we can not enter the premises in wet cloth. Hmmm that was really surprising !!!. Anyways, we came out from the temple and went to one shop (there is market outside the temple wall). Here in many shops you can keep your belongings and they will charge you some amount based on the size of belongings. We left our mobiles and wet cloths there and bought Dhoti and Gamchha (A type of Indian traditional dress) for us. Let me tell you wearing like this and roaming in road was my first experience. And given that how happy I was feeling, it certainly was very good experience as I carried the same attire till the time I didn’t reach the Dhanushkodi :p

Rameshwaram Temple also known as Ramanathaswamy Temple is a perfect blend of great architecture and spiritual significance. Just a quick legend for your reference, that after Lord Rama killed Ravana, He wanted to expiate the ‘dosha’ of killing a Brahmin and devotee of Lord Shiva. Therefore, he decided to worship Lord Shiva, in order to absolve his sins. Lord Rama asked Hanuman to bring the largest lingam from the Mount Kailash. When Hanuman could not reach by the prescribed auspicious time, Sita made a small lingam, known as Ramalingam for the worship. Post his return, Hanuman was disappointed since Rama did not worshipped the lingam brought by him. So, Lord Rama placed his lingam next to Ramalinga and named it Shivalingam. And till date both the lingam is present in the sanctum and worshiped. Though, the lingam in the Rameshwaram Temple was installed by Lord Rama but, the construction was led by several rulers over the centuries.

Rameshwaram Temple is so huge that you can take almost half day inside to see one corner to another. I felt I will get lost there by admiring the architecture and wandering in the approx. 4000 feet corridors, believed to be longest in the world.

Picture Source : rameshwaramtourism

Finally, it was great satisfaction to my soul after having sight of divine Shivalingam. In mind, I prayed and thanked Lord Shiva for allowing me to be there and seek his blessings. I am not writing what I feel and saw inside the sanctum as this was a spiritual experience of highest order and it would a travesty to try to explain it in words.

Gandhamadhana Parvatham:

I came out from the temple, promising myself to come again with my family by Lord Shiva grace. It was 12:45, we collected our belongings and had Masala Dosa and Filter coffee. I don’t know why but having filter coffee in south always taste me great than any other parts of India.

Our Cab driver took us to our next Stop at Gandhamadhana Parvatham. It was approx 3-4 kms ride from Rameshwaram temple. Situated in hillock area in the north-western part of Rameswaram, Gandhamadhana Parvatham temple is two-storeyed and you can see Lord Rama’s feet imprinted on the chakra placed in the temple. It is also belived that it is the place from Lord Hanuman commenced his flight to Lanka.

We had to take stairs to reach the temple and its top. I am not sure but it may be or among the highest point in the Rameswaram. I could see a nice view of almost entire Rameswaram town and the ocean. Locals also told us that it is a very popular sunrise and sunset viewpoint. Knowing that the significance of this place, I felt the condition was not in the best form and neglected. Definitely it needs some attention from concerned people or authorities to take care.  

Dhanushkodi : Most Popular Ram Setu

Dhanushkodi : The last land of India at southern tip

From there it was our 2nd most important destination after Rameshwaram temple. Dhanushkodi is an approximate of 18 kms from Rameshwaram. Sandwiched between the Bay of Bengal and Indian Ocean, this place is an island and is exquisitely covered by waters on all the four sides of it. Cut off from the rest of the world, I felt time has forgotten to touch this place. Frozen in history, reflecting it silence and serenity.

We have been stopped almost 1 kms before the tip. From there we had to walk. It was around 2:00 PM, The Sun was high but the scenic view of the two ocean combined with the ocean breeze led us to forgot about everything else and to enjoy the moment.

By walking towards the tip, we could easy differentiate the two seas. In our left side was Bay of Bengal, having tide like roaring tiger and in right side the Mighty Indian Ocean, calmed and composed. Once we reached at the tip, we could clearly see the beauty of Dhanushkodi, the merging point of the seas. Tide were too high to take a swim, it was not advisable, hence, we stayed at the shore for some time, admiring the breath-taking scenic beauty and praising the god for its natural painting. It was worth coming here.

Just for your reference, from the tip, SriLanka is only 15 kms away and your cell gets no network. My cell first got no network and then was getting “Welcome to SriLanka” messages. Luckily, I was able to make a video call to my home, however, not for so long as network was not stable to speak clearly.

Back to Madurai

It was around 3:00 PM we decided to head back to Madurai. We knew there was so much still left to see but time was running and we could not stay because of our schedule. On way back, nearby the ghost city, we stopped our car at one of the food huts owned by locals for food.

Yummy, Delicious and Protean rich food 😛

Our driver asked us if we wanted to go the famous “Panch Mukhi Hanuman Temple” (Five Faced Hanuman Temple). We decline the offer gracefully as we have eaten non-veg and were forbidden to go. Though , we stopped at APJ Abdul Kalam hosue bought some souvenirs, but time didn’t permit us to go to Kalam National Memorial. With a intention to come back again we said good byes to Rameshwaram  and the mighty seas from the pamban bridge.

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