"Rameswaram" Top 5 Page for this destination Rameswaram by tayloretc

Rameswaram Travel Guide: 49 reviews and 71 photos

The single most famous image of Rameswaram

Rameswaram is located on an island off the southeast coast of Tamil Nadu, partway down the strange spit of land and barely-submerged islands and boulders that link the crow’s 20 km to the northern tip of Sri Lanka. From here, Lord Rama led his army of monkeys and bears against Ravenna. Nearby is Rama’s own footstep, and the spot from which Hanuman leaped in his search for Sita. Heady stuff.

Rameswaram is a pilgrimage destination for devotees of both Shiva the destroyer and Vishnu the preserver, one of few places in India that is. Pilgrims first bathe in the sea to remove all dirt, then stop at wells containing holy water from each of 22 rivers from around India and douse themselves, washing away all impurities, and, finally, worship at the temple. The very temple where Lord Rama worshipped Shiva after defeating Ravenna, founded formally by the Cholas, and expanded by the Nayakas. Myth becomes fact becomes faith.

A visit here is a lot of fun, especially doing the well circuit at the main temple. Inside the entrance, you get into a special line (on the left), either with a private guide (perhaps Rs250) or a group. The guide races you all over the temple, stopping at each of the wells just long enough to drop the liter-ish bucket down and haul it up and dump it over your head (in my case, three times at each well – guess he thought I needed extra purification). The temple is crowded and wet. Like a water park.

Legend has it that each of the holiest rivers in India pass through here at the request of…someone (I’ll try to get more details on this). Each of the wells has a different temperature and taste – some of salt, some of metals – even wells that are next to each other. It takes less time than you’d think to go through them, and 63 liters of water gets you thoroughly soaked. (The last well is sprinkled at you rather than thrown at you.)

You’re not supposed to go for a darshan with wet clothes, although if you ask the right people you can get permission. Rs50 gets you into the fast line. The darshan is of the efficient get in, sit fast, get out variety…still, Lord Rama worshipped here, this very lingam…

You’re supposed to leave something behind at Ramesvaram – a bad habit, a memory maybe associated with a photograph, a despised vegetable, and never do it, remember it, or eat it thereafter. I burned my business cards, willed upon the ashes all my frustrations and mistrust and bad thoughts toward that company, and maybe by extension toward India in general, and flung them over my head into the sea. It was liberating.

We actually started the day with a visit to Danushkodi and the very tip of the spit of land supposed to be Rama’s bridge to Sri Lanka, which you can see here.

  • Last visit to Rameswaram: May 2008
  • Intro Updated May 9, 2016
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Comments (2)

  • aussirose's Profile Photo
    Jan 25, 2011 at 1:57 PM

    Fascinating! Absolutely love your opening pic Taylor! ... the light play makes it look like a moving time tunnel :o) Enjoyed the read. Cheers, Ann.

  • Maxus's Profile Photo
    Feb 21, 2009 at 12:49 PM

    Interesting place, thanks for the info


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