The town itself is small and dusty, with most of the hotels and restaurants, the ferry jetty, railway station and post office clustered around the Ramnathaswamy Temple. The bus stand is some two km west of the town centre and from here there are frequent shuttle buses to the town centre.
The Thiruvalluvar booking office is on North Car St, next to the Hotel Chola. It can be difficult to get accommodation here if there's a festival on, especially if you arrive late in the day. There's a tourist office in the railway station but it has only a map of the town and nothing else.
Rameswaram is the Varanasi of the south and a major pilgrimage centre for both Saivaites and Vaishnavaites as it was here that Rama offered thanks to Siva. At the town's core is the Ramanathaswamy Temple, one of the most important temples in southern India. Rameswaram is on an island in the Gulf of Mannar, connected to the mainland at Mandapam by rail, and by one of India's engineering wonders, the Indira Gandhi Bridge.
The bridge took 14 years to build and was opened by Rajiv Gandhi late in 1988. The town lies on the island's eastern side and used to be the port from which the ferry to Talaimannar (Sri Lanka) departed before normal passenger services were suspended more than a decade ago. As a result, there are now very few foreign visitors.
Major Tourist Attractions in Rameshwaram
The Ramanatha Swamy Temple
The Ramanatha Swamy temple is a masterpiece of Dravidian architecture and has the largest temple corridor in India. The construction of the temple started from the 12th century and was built by different rulers. The twenty-two wells of this temple are its main. Amazingly, the water of each well tastes different from that of the other. It is said that the waters of the well have curative qualities. Some of the many different festivals celebrated in the temple, include the festivals of Masi Sivarathiri, Thirukalyanam, Mahalaya Amavasai and Thai Amavasai.
Agnitriham is the popular bathing spot, located near Ramanatha Swamy Temple. Before moving ahead towards the Ramanatha Swamy temple, devotees bath at this holy spot.
The footprints of Lord Rama is placed on a Chakra at the Ramjharoka Temple. The chakra has been placed at the highest point of Rameshwaram. This point is at a distance of 5 kms from Rameshwaram town. Since it is the highest point of Rameshwaram, therefore it provides a fantastic view of the blue ocean waters below.
It is written in the ancient scriptures that Dhanushkodi is the place from where the monkey army of Lord Rama, started building the bridge to Lanka to reach the kingdom of Ravana. The place is named after the dhanush or bow of Lord Rama.
According to the ancient belief Vibhishana, the brother of demon king Ravana surrundered himself to Lord Rama at this temple and asked Rama to forgive him for the abduction of goddess Sita. Although Vibhishana was not straightaway involved in the kidnapping but he was ashamed of the fact that the gruesome crime was committed by his own brother Ravana. Kothandaramaswamy temple has images of Lord Rama, Lakshmana, Sita, Hanuman and Vibhishana.
Rameshwaram has many small temples, apart from the main temples, dedicated to Lord Rama, Lakshaman, Sita and Hanuman. Each temple big and small of Rameshwaram does have a history of its own. Other than the temples, there is also a tomb of Saint Ibrahim Syed Aulia at Erwadi, about 24 kms away from Rameshwaram.
How to get there
By Air - The nearest airport is at Madurai, at a distance of 154-km.
By Rail - Rameshwaram is well connected by trains from all the major cities of India.
By Road - State transport buses are available from the railway station to the various places in and around Rameshwaram. For local transportation taxis, auto-rickshaws, cycle-rickshaws and tongas are available. Also city bus service is available in the island.