Nature
Typography
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I had been to Rameswaram thrice earlier but all the times, the visit was restricted to the temple alone. Typically we start at the Chennai - Rameswaram express, land there in the early morning, visit the temple and start back by 8:30 to Karaikudi where my sister was studying. I couldn't explore much about Rameswaram. So this time I decided that I must visit alone and find out various places there & booked the ticket via www.irctc.co.in. Atlast it co-incided with the Trivandrum visit so I rescheduled the travel from Nagercoil to Rameswaran via Madurai. Later I was told that instead of Madurai I could have chosen Karaikudi as linking point. I started from Nagercoil by 8:30 p.m Coimbatore - Nagercoil Passenger and reached Madurai by 1:30 a.m and caught up with Chennai - Rameshwaran train there by 2:30 a.m. By the time I reached Rameswaram by 6:00 a.m, I had a very sound sleep.


Temple

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Theerthams
Rameswaram Temple has this Lord Siva Temple, prayed by Lord Rama to absolve from the "Brahmahatti Dosham", as Rama killed Ravana, who was a staunch Lord Shiva devotee. So Rameswaram is a major pilgrimage centre for North Indians who travel in hoardes to visit this temple. Rameswaram temple houses 22 wells or "theerthams" and the pilgrims wash off their sins by taking bath in these 22 wells. Bathing means just drenching a mug of water from the well in their head. The temple has some dedicated personnel for these.

You have to pay Rs. 7.00/- to the temple and Rs. 10.00/- to the personnel in the counter. But in practise the personnels charge Rs. 20.00/- extra from the pilgrims. They know how many people from they are taking money, so they will drench only those people. So it is better to align youself with one particular personnel for all 22 theerthams. I have noticed that these personnels prefer serving North Indians because they give extra money generously.

So once you reach Rameswaram, take a room, put all your belongings there. Come to the temple with just veshti (வேஷ்டி) (old saree for women), bath in all these 22 theerthams, go back and change to proper attire and then visit the main deity. Some people take a dip in the sea after the theerthams (தீர்த்தம்), but I was just put away by the very sight of the plight of the sea with floating faeces, underwears all around. This process took almost an hour for me. After that I visited the main deity, which is a small sized Lingam.

The Rameswaram temple's ancient corridor is one of the beautiful "pragarams" (பிரகாரம்) seen in the temples of Tamilnadu. But the same cannot be said about the recently expanded corridors. The problem is that corridors tend to be slippery because of constant presence of water due to pilgrims' bathing in various theerthams. So beware...

{mosimage}After coming out I was apporoached by an auto driver with a package of 8 temples for Rs. 200/-. I knew a few places like Ramar Padham (ராமர் பாதம்), Sita theertham (சீதா தீர்த்தம்), Lakshmana Theertham (லக்‌ஷ்மண தீர்த்தம்). But the local travel will cost only Rs. 50.00/-. He said that "Kothandaraman Temple (கோதண்டராமர் கோவில்)" at Dhanushkodi is in the package, thats why that rate. He said Dhanshkodi is about 18 kms from there. Reluctantly I agreed because I needed a guide to that place. That auto guy took me to "Kothandaramar Temple" which is hardly 5 kms on the Dhanushkodi road. I realised that I had been taken for a ride. But he told a lot of stories about the place, somewhat intresting.

Other Temples

One of the story was that in 1964 the Rameswaram island and Dhanushkodi islands were devasted by ravages of sea, and at that time the Ramnad ruler prayed the sea by offering the "thaali (தாலி)" of his wife in a "thaambalam (தாம்பாலம்)" to the sea. The sea water withdrew off immediately. After that incident no major sea calamities were reported even during Tsunami. Locals believe that sea is keeping its promise made in 1964.

{mosimage}Kothandaramar place is supposed to be the venue where Lord Rama gave refuge to Vibheeshana. Near the the Kothandaramar temple he showed a place saying that the Ramar Sethu started from there. From there we can see the beautiful aquamarine sea and the last parts of the country. While returning back the auto driver & my current tourist guide stopped a while to show the old extinct Railway station to Dhanushkodi & rail lines and safe guards beside the road. The train route seemed to be active when the Dhanushkodi island existed. The town bus no. 3 connects the Dhanushkodi beach and Rameswaram temple.

{mosimage}Meanwhile he asked me whether I am intrested in seeing our beloved (ex) President Abdul Kalam's house. I said why not? We went to his house where his elder brother is living. They are running a sea shell products shop called "Kalam Sea Shells" with a wide range of products like Sea Conches, pearls and other items. The prices were really cheap. I bought few Gun Metal items and pearls for our home, primarily it belonged to Kalam family but the prices are worth for themselves. You can visit them at http://www.kalamseashells.com. I suggest you don't miss this place. As I don't carry more cash I asked them whether they accept cards. They told me to carry the goods and give the auto driver the cash. Seems that the autodrivers get a commission and now I understood why my auto driver kept asking me to visit that shop once.

After that we went to Lakshmana Theertham. There you can offer "pori (பொறி)" (puffed rice) for the fishes as prayer. Immediately next to it is Sita Theertham. There they are displaying few coral rocks and say that they are rocks that float by the grace of Lord Rama. All I can do was just laugh at the shrewdness of the pujaris. Infact this "show" is going on in all the temples of Rameswaram.

{mosimage}The next stop was "Ramar Padham (ராமர் பாதம்)" where there is a foot print, supposed to be of Lord Rama's. The story goes like that from there only Lord Rama looked at the Sri Lanka island. The whole breathtaking view of Rameswaram can be seen from that temple. You can notice that Rameswaram is surrounded by sea water on all the sides. Another thing that captures your attention is the pristine white sand of the beaches. This is the sight that will be etched in your memories for a very long time. Nearer to that is a Lord Hanuman shrine which falls under the "temple package". That completes the tour of Rameswaram temples. I was dropped back in the temple by 11:15 A.M. Still I have 5 more hours to kill what to do? I decided to board on Bus No. 3 to Dhanushkodi.

Dhanushkodi

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I have heard of the name Dhanushkodi, as it is closer to the Sri Lankan border. But little I had heard about it till I came to Rameswaram. Dhanushkodi was a township by itself built by the British rulers but got ravaged by rough sea tides in 1964. There is a navy camp there to monitor the people migrating into and out of the place. The town bus charged Rs. 5.00/- and took 45 minutes to reach there from the Temple premises and travels through dark casuarina forest to get into pristence clear picturesque beach. The whole route is a delight to watch. Unlike waveless beach in Rameswaram, the Dhanshkodi beach is vibrant, something that reminds us of Mauritius beaches.

{mosimage}We cannot go to the ruins of Dhanushkodi by walk but have to depend on the locals for commutation. The tempo vans are the medium of commutation here. They carry about 15-20 people per trip and charge Rs. 40.00/- per head. Only ladies are allowed to sit inside (courtesy) whereas the gents can take the remaining place or stand / sit on the roofs. See the picture for details. The path is bumpy and thrilling but worth remembering. You will be greeted with flamingoes (பூநாரை) and other sea birds throughout the way. The travel is about 30 minutes on a sunny day. The trip takes you through the shallow backwaters, thorny trees (கருவேல மரம்) and sand dunes before reaching the ruins of Dhanushkodi.

{mosimage}A remains of Railway station and a church adjoining it welcomes you to the Dhanushkodi town. It really pains to see that ruins because when it was alive it must have been a beautiful hamlet with a big office, few temples, railway station and bs stand beautifully laid out. May be because of fear of calamity or financial inability, there are only small thatched cubicles that serve as homes for the fishermen there. They make their living out of selling sea shells, water packets and other things to the tourists. There was a primary school located on the way to the ruins. Their poor living in poverty as well as insecurity just pinches your heart.

{mosimage}We were there for about 45 minutes and looked at the memoirs of an ancient British town. I noticed that despite being surrounded so closely by sea, the island has the reputation of getting sweet water wherever a well was dug. The eeriness of the place definitely haunts the visitors. We saw an old man who was a survivor of 1964 calamity and 3 times winner of swimming to Sri Lanka from Dhanushkodi. Seems he had done a cameo in teleserial "Kolangal (கோலங்கள்)" that the ladies immediately identified with him.

{mosimage}Time was about 2:45 and I started getting restless because my train was for 4:30 p.m in the evening. There was a tension about the availability of town bus to Rameswaram. To add the woes, we had two pairs of North Indian couples who were cozying alone and always kept going away from us. Our driver's shouting at them was of no result and they returned at their will. Atlast we returned back to Dhanushkodi beach in 25 minutes and luckily for me a town bus was about to start. Atlast I reached the Rameswaram Railway station by 4:00 p.m, half an hour ahead of scheduled time to much of relief.

The dilipiated Dhanushkodi and the adjoining clear sea is haunting me very much that I'll visit that place soon again. It is so photogenic. I suggest that you too visit there atleast once.

Pamban Bridge

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Pamban Bridge

It would be uncharitable if I skip out Pamban Bridge in this travelogue. Travelling above the sea by rail for about 2 1/2 kms itself is a pleasure experience. The Rajiv Gandhi road bridge was built in parallel later for buses and other vehicles. Since I was in a deep sleep while passing through that bridge in to journey, I made sure that I click as many photos possible while returning. That aquamarine blue sea still mesmerises me and I feel like swimming in it. I haven't travelled by road above sea still and I hope I'll do it in my subsequent visits.

Passing through the fisherman hamlets is a nice experience for me because of the people's innocence. I used to feel very hapy when they wave hands at the train travellers, especially the school kids. I never fail to wave back at them. The barren landscape of Ramnad District is distinct when watched from the train. The road that travels parallel to the railway track that eventually reaches the Pamban Bridge is beautifully located and maintained.

{mosimage}Reaching to Rameshwaram is not tortuos or tough despite the distance. Thanks to Indian Railways, the place is well connected via trains that come from all parts of Tamil Nadu. Chennai - Rameshwaram Express that starts at 5:30 p.m from Egmore is very convenient for making Rameshwaram an intresting weekend destination. There is not more activity in Rameshwaram for more than two days, so a weekend is fine. The local conveyence there is also fine but needs a bit of bargaining. Dhanushkodi is really a rocking place for nature lovers like me. It is so photogenic..

With this trip I had rediscovered Rameshwaram. I would love to visit there atleast twice before December with one time being in monsoon. Besides Coimbatore, now I have decided to explore more of Southmost parts of Tamilnadu this year. Hope the plan goes well.

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As of today {oshits} people have seen Rameshwaram through my eyes

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About myself
Maheshwaran
Author: MaheshwaranWebsite: https://www.maheshwaran.com
I am a SAP Consultant in my late 30s, residing in the happeing IT City - Bangalore. My interests vary from reading to travelling to handicrafts to photography. My latest interest is on Body building. May be this vivid interest keeps me going in my life without getting bored.