Rameswaram or Ramanathaswamy Temple is a Hindu temple dedicated to Hindu God Lord Shiva. Located on Pamban Island, in the Ramanathapuram district of Tamil Nadu, the temple represents one of the 12 Jyotirlingas. The Lingam of Ramanathaswamy (Shiva), is believed to have been established and worshiped by Lord Rama and the temple is also one of the Char Dhams of Hinduism. The other 3 holiest abodes are Badrinath, Dwarka, and Jagannath Puri.
The Rameswaram Temple is also a prominent destination for Kashi Yatra as it is considered incomplete without the Yatra of Rameswaram.
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Every bit of this temple is related to the incident of the eminent epic Ramayana, and thus, portraits the perfect example of Shaivism and Vaishnavism unity. It was Lord Rama who installed the lingam; however, the entire construction of the temple was led down by several rulers over the centuries. Mainly the temple houses two lingams known as Ramalingam and Shivalingam. Shivalingam is still worshipped as the first to preserve the words of Lord Rama as suggested by an article on VedicFeed.
As mentioned in Ramayana, Rama returned to Rameshwaram along with his wife Devi Sita and his army, after killing Ravana. Ravana was not only a King but also a Brahmin. And according to Hindu scriptures, killing a Brahmin is considered as the most dreadful sin called Brahmahathi Dosha. Hence, by killing Ravana, Rama had committed a sin and as a result Rama prayed to Lord Shiva to absolve his sins.
Lord Rama decided to establish Shivalinga in Rameswaram and perform the rituals to wash off Brahmahati Dosha, as advised by Rishi Agastya. Hanuman was directed by Rama to bring Shivalinga from Mt. Kailash to perform the rituals. The rituals had to be performed within a specific time period, but Hanuman got delayed in bringing the Shivalinga. As a result, Devi Sita created a small Lingam from the sand which was accessible from the beach. It was called Ramalingam. Later on, Rama established the significant Shivalinga of black stone brought by Hanuman close to the small lingam, shortly after the establishment of Ramalingam, which is considered to be the shrine of Jyotirlinga.
According to the inscription available in the temple, it is believed that the ancient shrine at Rameshwaram was enlarged by King Parakramabahu of Sri Lanka in the 12th century and additions were made by the Panday’s, the Nayak rulers of Madurai followed by the kings of Ramanand. Many dynasties came and fell and each of them put their own input into the temple, during the construction period. However, one thing that did not change during all those constructions was its Dravidian style of architecture.
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Architecture and Features
Ramanathaswamy Temple is an outstanding example of Dravidian architecture and the primary deity of the temple is in the form of lingam. There are innumerable unique features in the construction and architecture of the temple.
The temple is spread in an area of about 15 acres with massive walls and a colossal Nandi. There are two gopurams, one located in the East (78 feet high) and one located in the West (126 feet high).
Another famous feature of Ramanathaswamy Temple is sixty-four wells (teerthams) in and around the premises of the temple. According to the Skanda Purana, twenty-four of them are important. Among them, 22 wells spread throughout the premises. The surprising fact is that water from each well tastes different even if they are very near to each other, and have curative features. So that Devotees take bath in teerthams before they enter the temple and it is believed that these holy waters can help in observing salvation and washing off all the sins and regrets in one’s life.
Rameshwaram temple also consists of three different types of corridors with a total length of 3850 feet.
The first corridor happens to be the oldest among all three.
The second corridor has 108 Shivalinga’s as well as a statue of Ganapathi.
The third corridor is the show stopper with an enormous 1212 pillars, each of them measuring 30 feet in height and has a height of close to 23 feet and is naturally said to be the longest corridor in the world.