Amongst the most revered shrines in India, Ramanathaswamy Temple is located in the small town of Rameshwaram in the state of Tamil Nadu. It is frequented by devotees and tourists from all over the world. Also known as Arulmigu Ramanathaswamy Temple, it houses one of the 12 Jyotirlingas of Lord Shiva. One of these can also be found at Shree Mahakaleshwar Temple in Ujjain, Kedarnath Temple in Uttarakhand, Shri Kashi Vishwanath Temple in Varanasi and Trimbakeshwar Shiva Temple in Maharashtra. Moreover, Ramanathaswamy Temple is also one of the Char Dhams. Hindus believe that visiting these sites helps achieve Moksha. Keep reading to know more about one of India’s holiest places of worship.
History of Ramanathaswamy Temple
Ramanathaswamy Temple has a captivating history that intrigues one and all. It is believed that this is where Lord Rama prayed to Lord Shiva, seeking forgiveness for the sins he might have committed in the battle against the demon king Ravana. Some also claim that this is where Lord Rama prayed to Lord Shiva on his way to Lanka to rescue his wife, Goddess Sita, seeking his blessings so he may kill Ravana. No matter which one you believe, the Hindu mythology clearly weaves Rameshwaram and Ramayana together.
For centuries, though highly revered, Ramanathaswamy Temple remained a small shrine. However, in the 12th century, king Parakramabahu I ordered the construction of a complex around the sanctum. The temple complex kept evolving over the following centuries with another significant phase of development in the 17th century.
Architecture of Ramanathaswamy Temple
Although every part of the temple is an architectural masterpiece, its highlight or most fascinating feature is the corridor, believed to the longest of its kind in the world. It is adorned with 4000 intricately-carved pillars that add to its beauty. This third corridor is believed to have been built in the 18th century by Muthuramalinga. The total combined length of the three corridors of the Ramanthaswamy Temples is about 3850 feet. The temple is constructed as per the Dravidian style of architecture, which is quite common in the shrines in South India. It houses two lingams, one made of sand by Lord Rama, and the other one brought by Hanumana from Kailash. The giant statue of Nandi – the vehicle of Lord Shiva – is one major attraction of the temple.
How to reach Rameshwaram
Rameshwaram is accessible by air, rail and road. However, the fastest and most convenient way to reach here is by booking a cheap flight ticket to Madurai Airport, which is the nearest major airport to the town. It is about 180 km away from here. You can then hire a taxi and reach Rameshwaram in about three hours.