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Rameshwar Jyotirlinga

Ramanathaswamy Temple is a Hindu temple dedicated to god Shiva located on Rameswaram island in the state of Tamil Nadu, India. It is also one of the 12 Jyothirlinga temples, where Shiva is worshipped in the form of a Jyotirlingam.
The Rameshwaram Temple is one of the most famous Hindu shrines in the country. It is tucked away at the tip of the Indian isthmus on the Pamban Island. This holy place is an important pilgrimage site as it happens to be one of the twelve 'Jyotirlingas'. The shrine comprises of a main deity in the shape of a 'linga' called Sri Ramanatha Swamy, which a confluence of Vaishnavism and Shiaivism. The highlights of the temple are its magnificent sculptures that have been carved from stone which are nothing short masterpieces. Spread across 15 acres, this place of worship is said to be a representation of the different architectural styles belonging to various kingdoms that have supported it. Another thing that the temple is well-known for is its natural spring water also referred as 'theerthams'. It is believed that a dip in this natural holy water is a must if one wants to be removed of sins and worldly sufferings. Read the sections below to know more about this popular Hindu temple.

History
An old mythological anecdote cites that Rameshwaram is as old as the epic saga, Ramayana. It all began when Lord Rama decided to invaded Lanka and destroy the demon, Ravana. He stopped over at Rameshwaram to quench his thirst at the sea shore. But, he was instantly asserted by a voice from the sky for not praying before drinking the water. It was then that Rama made a 'lingam' to represent Lord Shiva and sought his blessings to annihilate the demon. Lord Shiva offered his divine consent and was later requested by Lord Rama to manifest himself within the sand idol. Since then, the temple has become an important shrine for both Vaishnavism and Shiaivism. According to the religious text, the Puranas, Lord Rama was asked by a sage to establish a 'shivalinga' to be free from the sins of killing Ravana, the son of a Brahmin. Lord Anjaneya was sent away to bring a lingam from Kailas mountains but did not return on time. So, Sita made the lingam with sand and installed the 'ramalinga'. On his return from the mountains, Anjaneya was disappointed. Hence, Lord Rama ordered that the 'visvalingam' that Anjaneya bought back should also be set up. According to historians, the outer shell of the temple traces back to the 12th century. The shrine was poorly protected by a hovel first and later, Parakrama Bahu, the King of Sri Lanka attempted in building a sturdier structure around the idol. This was completed by the Setupathy rulers who belong to Ramanathapuram.

Major Attractions 
The Rameshwaram Temple is the major attraction of this place, but apart from this, there are 22 other theerthams within the vicinity of the temple. The natural spring waters are considered sacred by the local people. According to belief, a person who bathes in these spring waters is considered free from sins and disease. The Rameshwaram Temple is spread across a magnificent 15 acres of land and surrounded by an ancient style of architecture that reflects on the various kingdoms who patronized the temple. The gopurams are located in a 4000ft long passage with intricately carved sculptured pillars that are considered the highlight of the place. The embellishments speak of the Pallava, Travancore, Ramanathapuram, Mysore and Pudukkottai Kingdom influences. The best time to visit this temple is during the celebrations of Bhrammotsavams. The shrine comes alive with religious tourists and the festivity of the place. Typically, the best time to come to the Rameshwaram Temple is in June or July. 

How to Reach
Every year, the city has thousands of Hindu devotees flocking to the city to seek the blessings from the Gods. You can reach Rameshwaram by air, rail and road.
By Air: This pilgrimage spot does not have an airport of its own but the closest is located in Madurai, which is 163 km away from the city. Once you arrive there, you could make use of the public and private taxi services offered in the city. 
By Train: The trains connecting the city are innumerable. Regular trains commute from Rameshawarm to Chennai, Madurai, Coimbatore, Trichy and Thanjavur. 
By Road: Being a popular place of worship, the city has a good infrastructure in terms of roads that connect to other cities in the southern parts of the sub-continent. Madurai, Kanyakumari, Chennai, Trichy, Pondicherry and Thanjavur are some of the closest cities from where you can reach Rameshwaram.

Rameshwaram Ramanathaswamy Temple Timings
Morning: 5:00 am – 1:00 pm
Evening: 3:00 pm – 9:00 pm

Poojas and Rituals
Brahmahatya Dosha Pooja - To alleviate Brahmahatya Dosha present in one’s horoscope. Performed in the Agni Teerth or in the nearby Mutts
Pitru Tarpanam / Thila Homam - Tribute to ancestors to seek their blessings, and to help their souls rest in peace. Performed in the nearby Mutts with assistance of purohits
Palliyarai Deepa Arathana: 5:00 am
Spadigalinga Deepa Arathana: 5:10 am
Thiruvananthal Deepa Arathana: 5:45 am
Vila Pooja: 7:00 am
Kalasanthi Pooja: 10:00 am
Uchikala Pooja: 12:00 noon
Sayaratcha Pooja: 6:00 pm
Arthajama Pooja: 8:30 pm
Palliyarai Pooja: 8:45 pm

Festivals
  • Maha Shivarathri festival is the key festival here like any other Saivite temple. In Rameshwaram Ramanathaswamy Temple, devotees can participate in the Rishaba Vaahana Darsha, Maha Shivarathri Abishekam and the Silver Chariot procession. This is a 10-day festival that is celebrated in February – March.
  • Vasanthotsavam is a 10-day festival celebrated in the month of May – June
  • Ramalinga Prathishtai is a 3-day festival celebrating the installation of the Ramalingam. The festival is celebrated during May- June
  • Thirukalyanam is the celestial wedding ceremony of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvathi. The festivities are spread over a fortnight and is celebrated in the month of July – August
  • Navarathri or Dussera is a 10-day festival celebrated in the month of September – October
  • Kandha Sashti is celebrated in honour of Lord Kartikeya or Skanda. This is celebrated after Deepavali during the month of October – November
  • Aarudhira Dharshan is an important day in the Saivite calendar when Lord Shiva indulges in a cosmic dance. Lord Shiva’s avatar, Lord Nataraja performs this ecstatic dance on a day that coincides with the longest night of the year. This festival is celebrated during the end of December or in early January.
Nearby Temples
  1. Satchi Hanuman Temple: The Satchi Hanuman Temple is a spot of great significance in the Ramayana. It is the place where Hanuman conveyed to Lord Rama, that Sita is in Lanka. Hanuman gave Sita’s jewel as an evidence or ‘Satchi’ and hence, the spot was known as Satchi Hanuman Temple. The temple is 3 km from Rameshwaram Ramanathaswamy Temple
  2. Panchamukha Hanuman Temple: The Panchamukha Hanuman Temple has a majestic idol of Lord Hanuman with five faces covered in vermillion. The temple attracts devotees who come to see the floating rocks that were used by Lord Hanuman’s army to build the Ramsethu bridge between Indian and Sri Lanka. The Panchamukha Hanuman Temple is 2 km from the Rameshwaram Ramanathaswamy Temple
  3. Gandamadana Parvatham: The Gandamadana Parvatham is a small hill and holy site. It is the highest point in Rameshwaram. Devotees visit the place to worship an imprint of Lord Rama’s feet on a sacred chakra. The Gandamadana Parvatham is 3 km from the Rameshwaram Ramanathaswamy Temple
  4. Badrakaliamman Temple: Badrakaliamman Temple is dedicated to Goddess Durga. The temple is just 2 km away from the Rameshwaram Ramanathaswamy Temple
  5. Jada Theertham: Lord Rama returned from Lanka after killing Ravana and proceeded to install and worship Ramalinga. Before worshipping, Lord Rama
  6. Nambu Nayagiamman Temple:- The Nambu Nayagiamman Temple is a 14th-century temple built by the people of Ramnad as a mark of their faith and respect for Lord Rama. The temple is 8 km from the Rameshwaram Ramanathswamy Temple
  7. Kothandaramaswamy Temple: This temple is associated with Vibishana, the brother of Ravana and Lord Rama. It is believed that Vibishana sought Lord Rama’s refuge in this place. This is also the place where Lord Rama coronated Vibishana after his victory in Lanka. The Kothandaramaswamy Temple is 12 km away from Rameshwaram Ramanathaswamy Temple
  8. Villoondi Theertham:- The Villoondi Theertham is nearly 100 metres into the sea but is a freshwater well with sweet tasting water. It is believed that during his quest for Sita, Lord Rama reached this place. His thirst for water prompted him to flex his bow and arrow into the sea. The arrow created a well with fresh water to quench Lord Rama’s thirst. The Villoondi Theertham is 4 km from the Rameshwaram Ramanathaswamy Temple.
To Read other Jyotirlinga click here

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