The Ramanathaswamy Temple, situated in the religious city of Rameswaram, is dedicated to Lord Shiva. Revered as one of the holiest pilgrimage sites for the Hindus, the Rameshwaram Temple is one of the 12 jyotirlinga temples. In this temple, the jyotirlinga is worshipped instead of a Shiva idol.
Address: Rameswaram, Tamil Nadu 623526, India
Opening Hours: 4.30 am to 1 pm and 3 pm to 8.30 pm
Established in: 12th century CE by Pandya and Jaffna kings
Deity: Rameswara and Rameswari (Shiva and Parvathi)
History of the Jyotirlinga
Lord Rama, an incarnation of Lord Vishnu, had killed a Brahmin during his battle against Ravan. To pay penance and to please Lord Shiva, he wanted to build the biggest lingam. He then instructed Lord Hanuman to go to the Himalayas and get a big lingam, but since Lord Hanuman could not come back on time, Sita, the wife of Lord Rama, started building a lingam with sand.
Even in today’s time, the Ramanathaswamy Temple has two lingams; Hanuman brought the bigger one from Mount Kailash is known as Vishwalingam, and the smaller lingam was built by Sita is known as the Ramalingam. Both are worshipped till today, but as per Lord Rama’s directive, the smaller one is worshipped only after the bigger one. Out of the 12 jyotirlinga list, the one in Rameswaram is said to be the southernmost.
Highlights of the Rameshwaram Temple
In the beginning, the temple was built with a thatched roof. In the seventeenth century, it was Dalavai Setupati, who built a significant portion of the eastern Gopuram. Later, in the eighteenth century, Muthuramalinga Setupati built the third corridor called the Chokkatan Mandapam, which is famous throughout the world. The Chokkatan Mandapam is a structure like that of a chessboard in between the third corridor and the paved path that runs through the western Gopuram and the Setumadhava shrine.
The outer corridors measure about 6.9 meters in height and are re-known for being the world’s longest corridors. With as many as 1212 pillars in the outer corridor, the Rajagopuram is the most prominent among all the pillars with a staggering height of 53 meters. The Anuppu Mandapam, Setupati Mandapam, Nandi Mandapam, Kalyana Mandapam, and the Sukravara Mandapam are the five main halls at the Ramanathaswamy Temple. A corridor runs in between the shrines of Lord Ramanathaswamy and Goddess Parvathavardhini. Separate shrines have been constructed for Goddess Vishalakshi, Lord Vishnu, Lord Ganesh, and the sayanagriha.
One of the most important parts of the temple is the twenty-two holy water tanks or tirthas within the premises. It is a common practice among all the pilgrims and devotees to take a bath in the holy tirthas to wash themselves of their sins.
Other than the one in Rameswaram, the others in the 12 jyotirlinga list are in Somnath, Mallikarjuna, Mahakaleshwar, Omkareshwar, Vaidyanath, Bhimashankar, Nageshwar, Kashi Vishwanath, Trimbakeshwar, Kedarnath, and Ghrishneshwar.
Festivals Celebrated at the Temple
Being one of the 12 jyotirlinga temples, it holds a place of prominence as one of the holiest places in Southern India. The temple celebrates several festivals and is regarded as a major pilgrimage site.
- Maha Shivratri: Celebrated over ten days, the Maha Shivratri festival is celebrated with a lot of festive fervor in the Rameswaram Jyotirlinga Temple. On the day of the festival, the idols of the God and Goddess are taken out in the streets in a long procession.
- Navratri: Celebrated in the Hindu lunar month of Ashwin or Kartik, Navratri is a nine-day long festival that ends with the holy day of Dusshera.
- Ramalingam Pratistha Utsavam: The ten-day festival is a celebration of the installation of the sand lingam built by Sita. Even during this festival, the idols of all the Gods and Goddesses are taken out into the streets in a procession.
- Arudhra Darshanam: During this ten-day festival, devotees get to see the sight of Natraja idol that is concealed with sandalwood paste all through the year.
- Vasantha Utsavam: The festival is celebrated to welcome spring. During the celebrations, Lord Shiva is worshipped with sandalwood paste, flowers, incense, and rose water.
- Thirukkalyanam: The festival is a celebration of the divine wedding between Lord Shiva and Ambal. The seventeen-day celebration starts with the hoisting of the flag with a procession of the presiding deity in a golden chariot to the Agnitheertham and later with Goddess Parvathavardhini in a silver chariot around the Rameswaram Jyotirlinga Temple.
Pooja Timings and Entry
Pooja is performed six times every day and darshan timings for the devotees in between 5:00 -13:00 and 15:00-21:00 on all seven days of the week. Entry to the Rameshwaram Temple is free, but visitors have to pay Rs. 25 for the camera.
The Ramanathswamy Temple, its mythological story, and the rich history of Rameswaram make it an ideal place for a pilgrimage as well as a holiday. For a smooth and hassle-free journey and also to save big on online bus tickets, visit redBus.