Sri Ramanathaswamy temple of Rameshwaram is one of the Char Dhams, the temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva. Ramanathaswamy temple is one of the 12 Joityirlinga it is glorified as the pilgrimage site for Shaivites, Vaishnavites, and Smarthas. Sri Ramanathaswamy temple is revered by the Hindus. It is said that every devotee should visit the holy shrine once in his lifetime to ask forgiveness for his sins.
The literal meaning of Ramanathaswamy is-“ Superior of Lord Ram”. Also, the legend says that the Shiva lingam was established and revered by Lord Rama himself. Hence the temple was named so.
The Ramanathaswamy temple is located in Rameshwaram in the southern state of the Indian subcontinent, Tamil Nadu. Housed on the eastern side of the Pamban island the temple complex is always seen brimming with pilgrims and enthusiasts.
Legend behind Sri Ramanathaswamy temple:
The folklores of Sri Ramanathaswamy temples are majorly linked to the Hindu epic, Ramayana. According to the legend, Lord Rama’s wife, Devi Sita was abducted by the Sri Lankan demon king, Raavan. In order to save his wife and end Raavan’s torture, Lord Rama killed him.
While he was returning to his kingdom Ayodhya, he wanted to pray to Lord Shiva to absolve him of his sins committed during the war. So he instructed Hanuman to get the Linga from Kashi. As Hanuman was late in arriving, Devi Sita made a Linga from sand and they worshipped it. Henceforth the Rameshwaram temple has two Shiv lingams- the Rama lingam and the Vishwa lingam. The latter being the one bought by Lord Hanuman.
History of Sri Ramanathaswamy Temple:
The temple was further built during the 12th century under the rule of the Pandayas. Its chief shrine sanctums were renovated by Jeyaveera Cinkaiariyan and his successor Gunaveera Cinkaiariyan of the Jaffna Kingdom.
Sri Ramanathaswamy Temple Architecture:
Marked with intricate carvings, long corridors, and majestic gopuram, the temple is an example of architectural perfection.
- The most striking feature of the Shri Ramanathaswamy temple is the 1212 pillared corridors which extends to a length of 3850 feet. The height of the pillars is about 30 feet from the floor to the center of the temple. The most important one among them is the 53 m tall rajagopuram.
- There are also separate sanctums for the shrines of Lord Ramanathaswamy and his wife, Goddess Parvathavardhini. The temple complex also has shrines of Ganesh, Vishnu, and Vishalakshi.
- The temple comprises of numerous adorned halls like the Anuppu Mandapam, Sukravara Mandapam, Setupati Mandapam and few more.
- There are 64 ‘teerthas’ or holy water bodies in the Rameshwaram out of which 22 are in the Ramanathaswamy temple. According to the Skanda Parana these 22 are the most important ones. It is said that these 22 teerthas represent the 22 arrows in Lord Rama’s quiver. Bathing in this teerthas is mandatory for every devotee before entering the Sanctorum.
The Ramanathaswamy temple premises can be seen flooding with Shiva devotees specially during the time of Maha Shivratri. The 10 day grand festival is celebrated during february -march. The festivals creates and aura of faith as well as grandeur. The other major festivals celebrated are Thirukalyanam, Navaratri Festival and the Vasantholsavam.
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