India is a country rich, not just in its cultural heritage but also in its geographical diversity. I have visited many parts of the country and Southern part of our country holds a very special place in my heart.
Among them Rameshwaram has been a place which was magical for me. I loved everything about it. Starting from the drive to Rameshwaram, staying at a glass paneled sea-facing hotel room, experience at Rameshwaram temple, visit to Kalam’s house, a day well spend at Dhanaushkodi and so on and so forth. This is one place where I can stay forever and never get bored.
If you are looking at the ideal mix of scenic beauty, spiritual upliftment, witness the extreme religious harmony, draw inspiration from the likes of legends like A. P. J. Abdul Kalam, relish the mouth watering delicacies of Southern India, enjoy one of the cleanest beaches of India, fall in love with one of the best road drives in India and much more you cannot and must not miss the place called Rameshwaram.
Road to Rameshwaram:-
The road to Rameshwaram is as mesmerizing and as unique as Rameshwaram itself. As we drove on a broad road towards Rameshwaram we saw the calm and quiet Bay of Bengal on one side and rough waves of Indian Ocean on other.
It was a heavenly experience for me to witness these wonders of nature. Similar to humans like us, those water bodies that existed in same environment behaved so differently. There was some salt making process that was being carried out at most places.
As we drove further, we landed on not one but two engineering marvels. One was Annai Indira Gandhi Road Bridge and the other was old Pambam Rail Bridge. These bridges are about 45 minutes before Rameshwaram. The Pamban Bridge (about 2.35 kms) is one of the most spectacular bridges in the world.
It connects Rameshwaram with the mainland through railway track. While going to Rameshwaram we travelled over these bridges and it was an unforgettable experience. You have to stop your car and get down on vibrating Annai Indira Gandhi Road Bridge to enjoy the views towards Sri Lanka and the village on the west side as well as the Pamban bridge that lies just below.
The view from the bridge gives a picturesque view. It seems to be a regular bridge, unless you realize that you are on thr top of an ocean and that rail road and the awesome century old Pamban Bridge is just below. The road bridge is elevated and small ships can go under when the Pamban Bridge opens in two halves.
One can see the railway bridge alongside this bridge and if you are lucky enough you will see a train passing through it that looks like a toy train from a distance. We were thrilled to see and experience it.
Stay at TTDC (Tamil Nadu Tourist Department Hotel):-
Tamil Nadu Tourist Department Hotel is a good choice to make as it is very near to the Rameshwaram temple and makes the darshan far more convenient. We were comfortably able to walk to the temple post a dip in the Agnitheertham.
The hotel oversees the calm sea and it is pleasant in the evenings. It is a joyful experience to sit outside and view the sea dancing to its own tunes. The hotel has an in-house restaurant with the luxury of buffet.
In summary, average sized rooms are comfortable and the hotel is convenient in terms of approach to the temple. Given to the similar options and price offered for boarding at this town, this one appears far better.
Darshan at Rameshawaram temple and bath of 22 wells:-
We were staying just beside the temple therefore all we needed to do was to carry one set of clothes in a waterproof packet and reach the temple early in the morning to avoid rush. Rameshwaram Temple is a huge and majestic. It is one of the 4 dhams for Hindus as well one of the twelve Jyotirlingas (Lord SHIVA temples).
It does have some divinity about it and one can experience it as soon as one enters the premises. We all started off from the dip in the Bay of Bengal Sea that is just behind the temple. Thereafter, we got poured with the pious water of 22 wells one after another that are located inside the temple at a certain distance from each other.
One can hire a purohit who will help you with the process or avoid you can do away with this bath. However, I strongly suggest this holy bath as it was certainly an experience of probably lifetime. Enjoy the ambiance and chant SHIVA MANTRA as you get poured with the water of different wells.
Once the bath in 22 wells is done you need to change in the restrooms located there and proceed for the majestic Darshan. The temple has many beautiful sculptures and amazingly painted ceilings. I will here specifically mention the Shivling painted on the ceiling that is indeed an artistic marvel of olden times.
The uniqueness of this Shivling is that you can stand at any place below it; the point always seems to pour in your direction. Do not forget to enjoy the yummiest Prasad at the end of Darshan.
Trip to Kalam House
Former President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam’s house is located at Mosque street, Rameshwaram and should be a in the list of must visit for every Indian and more so if you happen to explore the south. A feeling of calmness is there as you see around the house.
You will be able to witness rare pictures and see how a person of A.P.J. Abdul Kalam’s stature believed in the principle of simple living and high thinking. The place is beautifully done and icing on the cake is the gift shop on the next floor owned by his elder brother.
You will find a good collection at pretty reasonable price. I found it to be the best venue for shopping, there was lot of variety from shells to pearl necklaces, etc. I just loved the place.
History of Dhanushkodi and trip to the Beach:-
Dhanushkodi Beach or Ram Setu is around 20kms away from Rameshwaram Temple. We were taken to this beautiful bridge by a Jeep that can be truly called antique and can stop anytime still the beach was worth the risk. One has to come back before sunset because the water level rises and also because of some ghost stories attached to the place.
I have been to various beaches across the world that includes famous Miami Beach (U.S.A.) but this beach is undoubtedly the best beach I’ve seen apart from Radhanagar beach at Havlock Island (Andaman). It is absolutely crystal clean beach and one can click the photo of their feet even after immersing themselves in water till knee length. The light blue colour of the sea is amazing.
One can experience soothing barefoot long walk across the beach side. The waves are not strong but one is warned as one moves to the end point of the beach where two water bodies (Bay of Bengal and Indian Ocean) meet. A roaring ocean is on one side and calm still sea on the other side.
It is believed that Lord Rama worshipped Lord Shiv at this point and the floating bridge was made till north western coast of Sri Lanka thereafter. It is said to be proved by NASA that the RamSetu is still visible from space. There used to be a whole city here not long back with a railway connectivity but after massive Tsunami that hit in 1963, whole population of 3,000 inhabitants died with no traces left.
Only certain ruins still stand there, therefore it is also known as Ghost town. You can shop for huge counch as well as artistic and delicate souvenirs made of seashells from the local people (they close their shops before sunset and move to safer place) for a very cheap price. I picked two huge counches at unbelievably low price.
Hanuman Temple was a pleasant add-on to the beauty and history of Rameshwaram. The best part about the temple were the display of floating stones that are believed to be used for construction of RamSetu by skills of Nala who was a descendant of Vishwakarma, chief engineer of devatas. The Statue of Lord Hanuman is the major attraction in this small yet neatly kept temple.
Also Read :- Beauty of abode of God (Uttarakhand)
A trip to Rameshwaram is enriching both mentally and spiritually. For a simple tourist, it’s an amazing experience as on one hand you have divinity, on the other simplicity of a great son of soil like Kalam. An architectural marvel like Pamban and Annai Indira Gandhi Bridge or various temples, the place has everything to signify INCREDIBLE INDIA.
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