The island of Rameshwaram is shaped like a conch and covers an area of more than 60 kilometers. It is considered to be a very important center of pilgrimage by the people of South India. It is situated in the Gulf of Manner. It is believed, according to Hindu mythology that, Rameshwaram is the place where Lord Rama and his army of monkeys built a bridge to Lanka to rescue his wife Sita who was kept captive by the infamous Ravana. It is also the place where Rama worshiped Lord Shiva to cleanse his sin away after he had killed Ravana. The Rameshwaram temple is one of the most important among the South Indian temples. It is one of the twelve abodes of Lord Shiva, called Jyotirlingas and according to Hindu beliefs, a pilgrimage to Benaras has to be followed by a visit to Rameshwaram. This is why this place is popularly known as the 'Benaras of the South'. Visited by countless pilgrims and tourists, the splendid temple is among the famous tourist attractions of Tamilnadu.
The Rameshwaram temple, also called Ramanathaswamy Temple, is among the holiest Hindu shrines in India. The magnificent structure is also a remarkable architectural achievement of the medieval ages. The temple features typical South Indian temple architecture, with a towering spire, tall gateways, and long corridors in the interiors. The temple complex is surrounded by a high compound wall. The walls are interrupted by two huge towers, ( gopurams ) in the east and west, and by finished gate in the north and south.
The outer corridors are said to be the world’s longest, and measure a staggering 3850 feet in length. The granite pillars are equally impressive and number about 1200. The granite is said to have been imported from across the sea, a remarkable feat for the age.
The temple is spread over 15 acres. The gigantic nandi, bull of Lord Shiva found to be guarding many Shiva temples in India, is a major attraction of this temple. The shrine was originally housed in a thatch until the first structure was built by Parakrama Bahu of Sri Lanka in the 12th century AD. Construction was completed by the Setupathy rulers of Ramanathapuram. Many additions have been carried over throughout the ages, the latest major ones being the long corridor called the 3rd prakaram, built in the 18trh century. This temple has always enjoyed a special position among the temples of Tamilnadu, and has received generous patronage from various ruling families of the region.
The presiding deity of Rameshwaram is the Lingam ( phallus ) of Sri Ramanathaswami, the form of Shiva worshipped here. Legend has it that Lord Rama worshipped an earthen Shiva lingam made by Sita on his way back to his capital after defeating Ravana.
It is believed that, in order to attain salvation after death, one must pay a visit to Rameshwaram. The famous tourist spot forms the center of attraction for worshipers of Lord Vishnu and Lord Shiva. Located at a distance of 24 kilometers, Sri Lanka shares a part of history with Rameshwaram. One can get an idea of the significance of Rameshwaram if they browse through the ancient holy book, The Ramayana.
Learn more about the Rameshwaram temple and other temples in Tamilnadu in touristplacesinindia.com which offers online information about the major tourist destinations of India.