Rameshwaram Temple is situated in the island of Rameswaram, off the Sethu coast of Tamil Nadu and is reached via the Pamban Bridge across the sea. The huge temple is known for its long ornate corridors, towers and 36 theerthams.
Rameshwaram Jyotirlinga represents the southernmost of the 12
Jyotirlingams of India and has been a time honored pilgrimage center
held on par with Banaras. Rameshwaram Temple Jyotirlinga is associated
closely with the Ramayana and Rama's victorious return from Sri Lanka.
Legend behind Rameshwaram Temple
According to a popular legend, it was Lord Rama who installed this
Linga here. Story goes that when Lord Ram was on his way to attack
Ravana, he reached this place where he made a linga of sand and
worshipped it. It is said that when Lord Rama was drinking water on the
seashore there was a celestial proclamation - "You are drinking
water without worshipping me". Listening to this Lord Rama made a
linga of sand and worshipped it and asked to be blessed so that he could
vanquish Ravana. Lord Shiva blessed him accordingly. He also requested
Lord Shiva to reside eternally here so that entire mankind should
benefit from it. Shiva then manifested himself as the Linga and got
installed there for eternity.
According to yet another legend, while returning to Ayodhya, Ram
worshipped Lord Shiva in the form of a Shiva Lingam made of earth by
Sita. It is said that Hanuman was entrusted with the task of bringing an
image of Viswanathar from Banaras. Anticipating delay in Hanuman's
return from Benares, Rama offered worship to a Shivalingam at a
pre-chosen auspicious moment. This lingam is referred to as
Ramalingam and the town is known as Rameswaram.
There is yet another Shivalingam here - Viswanathar said to have been
brought by Hanuman from Banares. This Shivalingam is referred to as
Kasilingam and Hanumalingam. Prayers are offered to Viswanathar before
they are offered to Ramanathaswamy.
Structure of Rameshwaram Temple
Rameswaram Temple is spread over an area of 15 acres and has lofty
gopurams, massive walls and a colossal Nandi. Rameswaram Jyotirlinga
also boasts of a 4000 feet long pillared corridor with over 4000
pillars, supposedly the longest in the world. The carved granite pillars
are mounted on a raised platform. Worth noticing fact about this
corridor is that the rock is not indigenous to the island and is said to
have been brought in from elsewhere in Tamil Nadu across the sea.
The eastern Rajagopuram towers to a height of 126 feet and has nine
levels. The Western Rajagopuram is also quite impressive though not as
tall as the Eastern one. The temple also has several mandapams with mini
shrines to other deities. There is a huge Nandi measuring 12 feet in
length and 9 feet in height with the idols of Viswanatha Naicker and
Krishnama Naicker. The lingams are housed in the inner section of the
Ramalingeshwara. High walls enclose the temple, forming a rectangle with
huge pyramidal gopura entrances on each side.
Significance of Rameshwaram Temple Jyotirlinga
Significance of Rameshwaram Temple Jyotirlinga has been described
through a shloka in Manas:
Je rameshwar darshan kari hahi |
Te tanu taji mam loka sidaari hahi ||
Meaning: Those who go to Rameshwar and seeks my blessings, shall
always reside in Shivloka.
It is said that there is greatness associated with the ceremonial bath
given to the linga by water of the Ganga.