Rameswaram is a town on Pamban Island, in the southeast Indian state of Tamil Nadu. It's known for Ramanathaswamy Temple, a Hindu pilgrimage site with ornate corridors, huge sculpted pillars and sacred water tanks. It is separated from mainland India by the Pamban channel and is about 40 km from Mannar Island in Sri Lanka. It is in the Gulf of Mannar, at the tip of the Indian peninsula. Pamban Island, also known as Rameswaram Island, is connected to mainland India by the Pamban Bridge. Together with Varanasi, it is considered to be one of the holiest places in India to Hindus, and part of the Char Dham pilgrimage.
Nearest airport in Madurai - 174 km from Rameswaram. Most of the major Indian cities have daily flights here.
Being a significant pilgrimage site, Rameswaram (RMM) is connected to all major south Indian cities like Kochi, Chennai, Hyderabad and Bengaluru. But you might find it difficult to find a direct train till here from north Indian cities.
Connected with all important towns of Tamil Nadu, City Buses are available including night services. Point to Point services, Tourist taxi, auto / cycle rickshaws and horse carts are also available.The taxi charges for a small car (Indica) is around ₹5 per km. It costs around ₹1800 for return trip from Madurai to Rameswaram. Andhra Pradesh State Road Transport corporation ( APSRTC ) operates Rameswaram – Tirupathi daily service.
Pooja procedure at Sri Ramanathaswamy Temple
It is very important for you to know the correct procedure to offer Pooja at the main temple. Temple management allows only Hindus to perform this pooja. It is best to hire a guide a day in advance, generally around ₹400-₹500 for everything. Pooja at the main temple is a 4-step process:
You can also enjoy sumptuous prasadam at noon. It is offered near inner door of Lord Shiva temple.
- Sri Ramanathaswamy Temple (near the sea on the eastern side of the island). Renowned for its magnificent prakaras or corridors with massive sculptured pillars on either side. The longest corridor in the world is here, 197 m (646 ft) long and 133 m (436 ft) wide. The temple has a Gopuram 38.4 m (126 ft) tall. Different rulers built the temple as it stands today, at different periods from the 12th century AD. There many guides who will attack as soon as you enter the temple premises; negotiate the deal of how much to pay them if you need their services. The history of the temple is linked with "Ramayan" and it is believed that the deity was installed by Lord Rama after the war with Ravana at the instance of the great saints to get rid of the "Brahma Dosham".
- Agnitheertham. Sri Ramanathaswamy temple faces east. The seashore, about 100 m (330 ft) from the main entrance of the temple, is very calm and therefore ideal for bathing. The water at this place is considered sacred and known as Agni theertham. Pilgrims perform poojas in honour of their ancestors at this seashore.
- Annai Indira Gandhi Road Bridge (Pamban Bridge) (12 km). Connects the Rameswaram island with the mainland. It is the longest sea bridge in India, nearly 2.2 km (1.4 mi) long, and stands as a fine example of Indian architecture. The islands near by and parallel rail bridge below can be viewed from this bridge.
- Badrakaliamman Temple (2 km from the main temple on the way to the Gandamadana Parvatham.). A temple for Devi Durga
- Dhanushkodi (18 km). the southern tip of the island, Dhanushkodi was completely washed away by the 1964 cyclone. This is a strip of land about 1 km (0.62 mi) wide and 18 km (11 mi) long on the eastern end of Rameswaram island. On one side are the waters of the Indian Ocean and on the other is the Bay of Bengal. The two seas, otherwise known as Ratnakaran and Mahodadhi, with their confluence is shaped like a bow while the strip of land resemble an arrow poised for release. Devout Hindus consider the Adi Sethu, or the arrowhead, a sacred place to perform religious rites. It is also a place worth visiting for its scenic beauty and bird life.
- The Five-faced Hanuman Temple (2 km from the main temple). the deity of Hanuman drawn withsenthooram. Idols of Lord Ram, Sita and Hanuman brought from Dhanushkodi during the 1964 cyclone were placed here. The floating stone, used to build the SethuBandanamor, the bridge between India and Lanka, can be found in this temple.
- Gandamadana Parvatham. is a hillock situated 3 km away and is the highest point in the island. Here one can see the imprint of Lord Rama’s feet on a chakra. The entire island of Rameswaram is visible from this point.
- Jada Theertham (about 3.5 km from Rameswaram on the Dhanushkodi road). legend has it that Lord Rama, on his way back after killing Ravana, Worshipped SriRamalinga (believed to be installed by him). Before doing so, he washed his hair in this theertham to purify himself.
- Kalam House, Mosque Street. The former President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam House is an interesting place to visit. At present, his residence has been converted into a museum that stocks his childhood memoirs. The place is ideal to get a glimpse into the extraordinary life of this simple man, right from childhood to his research days. Several pictures and awards of Dr. Kalam are kept on display in this two-story building, which is maintained by his elder brother. Moreover, a section of the house has been turned into a store that sells a variety of merchandise.
- Kalam Memorial (on the main approach road to the island). A very beautiful and grand building. It was inaugurated on the second death anniversary of Dr Kalam. A must-visit. No photography is allowed inside the main halls. No entry fee.
- Kothanda RamaSwamy Temple (12 km away from Rameswaram). A popular belief is that Vibishana, brother of Ravana, surrendered before Rama here.
- Nambu Nayagiamman Temple (8 km from the main temple in Rameswaram on the way to Dhanushkodi.). Greatly venerated by the people of Ramnad District.
- Satchi Hanuman Temple (3 km from the main temple, on the way to the Gandamadana Parvatham.). A very small roadside temple. It is considered to be the place where Hanuman delivered the good news of finding Sita to Rama with satchi or evidence, Choodamani or the jewel that belonged to Sita
- Sugreevar Temple/Theertham (on the way to Gandamadana Parvatham near the Doordarshan Kendra.).
- Villoondi Theertham (7 km from the main temple on the way to Pamban). It is found inside the sea like a well where freshwater is available.
- Glass boat ride at Pamban Bridge: There is one glass boat at the govt. boating center on the other end of the bridge. That boat too is not in order, as water has entered between the two layers of glass through which you are supposed to see the corals. The boatman will tell you that the glass is not in order only when you reach the point where you are supposed to see the corals. The water is shallow there, but you won't be able to see the corals with the glass in that condition. As such, it is an utter waste of money till the govt. officials fix the boat. Before boarding that single boat, check the glass and ask the boatman if it is in proper condition. (April 2012) One can enjoy the wonderful glass boat ride near pambanbridge to see coral reefs in the Sea. Boat has a glass bottom which enables you to see corals through it. To reach this place, you need to catch local bus from Rameswaram bus stand to Pamban bridge. From there you have to take an auto to boat center (₹40-50) (minimum 400 per boat of 8 persons), it is almost halfway on the bridge. Boat is run by Government officials and you don't have to bargain. They provide good service and don't even expect a tip from tourists. If you want to have a good view, be there between noon - 1PM on a good sunny day. Always carry an umbrella with you and watch the coral reef in umbrella shade, otherwise you'll see your own reflection on the glass instead of corals(imp: try to go for glass boat ride with a group because some days there might be no tourists there and you might end up paying more as there is no one to share glass boat ride with you) :)
It might not be even proper coral to see in the areas, some says the corals are all damaged around here!
- Visit Dhanushkodi: Apart from the temple this certainly is one of the best things to see and do in Rameshwaram.
Since 2017, a full paved road goes all the way down to Dhanushkodi and the further 3 km till the tip of country towards Adams bridge/Sri Lanka. Buses #3 and #2a from Rameswaram bring you there for ₹30. Both buses start a bit north of the temple east gate at the sea shore (see OSM or maps.me). On the tip, you see the sea on both sides: on one side the Bay of Bengal and on the other the Indian Ocean, the Bay of Bengal side is relatively calm and hence goes by the name (Penn Kadal , Lady Sea) and the India Ocean is rough with waves lashing and is called ( Aaan Kadal, Male Sea). Dhanushkodi is a interesting ghost town (destroyed in the 1964 cyclone after which the city was deserted): it seems to revive between the ruins: many wood bungalows are around the old harbor (fishermen) and others with handicrafts along the road. A primary school is also active. You can see the post office , railway station , church and rail tracks in ruins. It's best to go in the evening or early morning to avoid the scorching sun, the bus starts at early as 6AM and until sundown 6PM. You might experience the travel with the former minitruck instead of the bus.
If you are interested in buying seashell items, visit the Leema Shopping near Dr. Kalam's House. You can get quality items in a comparatively well priced than elsewhere in Rameswaram.
A number of Marwadi Bojanalays, semi-sponsored restaurants for charity, are near the west entrance of the temple and serve good food at a reasonable price.
Another good place is the Ram Nivas restaurant. They specialise in Indian Chinese food. Service is a little slow but the food is worth the wait. To get there, turn right at the temple when coming from the Bus Stand and walk about 50 metres.
Gujarat Bhavan offers excellent homely meals as well, but be prepared for a long wait time. When you exit the temple from the East gate and walk straight, around 200 metres towards the sea-shore you will find this place on the right hand side.
- Blue Coral Cottage, Agasthiar Theertham (Near Tamilnadu Hotel), ☏ . The hotel is near temple and sea. There is no arrangement for food. starting from 1350.
- Daiwik Hotels, NH- 49, Madurai Rameswaram Highway (Near Rameswaram Bus Stand), ☏ , .
- Hotel Royal Park, Semma Madam, Ramnad Highway (on the main highway after the Pamban bridge), ☏ . The tariff is quite high considering that Rameswaram is a small town, with no breakfast included. Also has a good vegetarian restaurant attached. The staff are warm and friendly. Ample secure parking place for cars. Room service from 7a.m. to 10p.m. But it is quite far away from the main temple. ₹1650 + ₹200 luxury tax.
- Tamilnadu Hotel (Hotel Agnniteertham) (in front of sea near important Ramanathaswami Temple of south India), ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. This Tamilnadu Tourism Development Corporation hotel provides good accommodation at reasonable rates. It is under renovation. ₹300-900.
- Sri Palaniandavar Lodge A/C, 1/8A south car street (500 m from temple), ☏ . Decent hotel with good service. ₹1200.
- 1 Hotel/Lodge Guru (next to Rameswaram Temple Entrance (East)).
- Kanniyakumari - A train 'Rameswaram Kanyakumari SF express' departs thrice a week (Monday, Thursday and Saturday) at 8:45PM from Rameswaram railway station and arrives at Kanniyakumari at 4:05AM, with plenty of time to reach Kanniyakumari beach and catch the spectacular sunrise. Do consult the latest railway timetable for schedule changes. There is also a bus to Kanniyakumari twice a day. It leaves at around 7AM and 7PM. It is an atrocious journey through awful roads and takes about 4 to 5 hours but it goes direct.Train runs on Ramanathapuram,Manamadurai,Madurai, Tirunelveli, Nagercoil routes whereas Buses passes through Ramanathapuram, Kilakarai, Ervadi, Sayalgudi, Tuticorin, Tiruchendur (East Coastal Road).
- Madurai - There are 3 passenger trains that depart from Rameswaram daily and do not require prior reservation. Departure times are 5:25AM, 5:35PM and 12:05AM. The journey takes roughly 4 hours and is quite comfortable, with the day trains offering not to be missed views. Do consult the latest railway timetable for schedule changes. There are frequent buses as well.
- Chennai - There are two express trains, Sethu Express and Rameswaram express (referred as Boat mail earlier) running on all days.
- Coimbatore - A weekly train, Rameswaram-Coimbatore express running on every Wednesdays.