Situated on an island off the coast of Tamil Nadu in southern India, the approach bridge over a wide expanse of the sea is enough to set the tone of a visit to Rameshwar. The temple, architecturally, is a majestic monument. The main temple gopuram or roof soars 53 Meters above the hustle and bustle of the town, an intricately carved masterpiece. Like most temples, this one has a huge wall that encloses the temple premises. The real miracles are the long corridors, the longest in the world. They run the entire length of the premises form a tunnel with over pillars holding up the roof. A gaze down the corridor is guaranteed to be jaw dropping.
What makes Rameshwar so important is the various legends and myths associated with the temple and the town.
The temple is supposed to be the site where Lord Rama after killing Ravana wanted to atone for his sins of killing Ravana by worshipping Lord Shiva. Killing a human being even in a war is a sin, even for God’s avatar. He asked Hanuman to bring him a Shivaling from Mount Kailash in the Himalayas to pray to. Legend is that Hanuman was delayed and since the auspicious time for the rituals was passing, Sita created sand Shivling and the rituals were done on it. Hanuman was angry at his lateness tried to uproot the sand Shivling but was unsuccessful. Rama placated him and decreed that the Shivling brought by Hanuman be installed besides the sand Shivling. Devotees should pray to the Shivling brought by Hanuman and then to the Shivling made by Sita. The tradition continues till date, the main deity is the Shivling created by Sita called as Ramaling while the prayers are offered first to the shivling brought by Hanuman, now called as Vishwaling.
The temple has 22 tanks or teerthas that make this temple unique. The Teerthas are supposed to symbolize both the 22 ancient rivers of India as well as the number of arrows in Lord Ramas quiver. Lord Ram is believed to have used his bows to create these tanks for water during the construction phase of the bridge to Lanka. These tanks are believed to have medicinal properties that cleanse your body as well as spiritual properties that cleanse your destiny and soul.
Ramseshwaram is also supposed to be location of Gandhamadhan Parvat, the mountain top from which Hanuman started his giant leap in search for Sita across the ocean to Lanka. This is also the place from where the bridge to Lanka was started to be constructed by Lord Ram. The sea is surprisingly mild and calm year round and the area is a rich fishing ground. The seas calmness is attributed to the sea god who made the sea calm as a mark of respect to Lord Ram’s bridge.
In recent times, the temple found a surprising mention in the hit Bollywood movie Chennai Express where Shah Rukh Khan is on a journey to the temple for immersion of his grandfather’s ashes.
The temple town is also justly famous for giving India one of its most illustrious sons. The Missile Man of India and one the most beloved presidents Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam. Perhaps it was something in the sands of Rameshwaram itself that propelled him to greatness!!
This may be concise history of Rameshwar, but what is the connection of the place with Chanakya, Chandragupta and Alexander? For that you will have to wait for the upcoming mythological thriller “Indus Challenge”.