Ramanathaswamy Temple was built in the 17th century, at the spot where Rama worshipped Lord Shiva after he slayed the Lankan King Ravana. Situated close to the sea this temple is famous for its 1200 gigantic granite columns and the water in each of the 22 sacred wells in the temple tastes different.
Sri Ramanathaswamy temple faces east. The seashore, about 100 metres from the main entrance of the temple, is very calm and therfore ideal for bathing.The water at this place is considered sacred and known as ĎAgni Theerthamí. Pillgrims perform poojas for their ancestors at this seashore.
The beauty in architecture of this temple gets its grace due to construction done by different rulers who added to the temple structure at different times. The artists have tried to put life into the carvings and the carvings on pillars are delicately done in an elegant manner to express the desired. The stunning beauty of the temple leaves one mesmerized.
The glory of the temple is in its pillared corridors. The corridor is the longest among the temples. East to west it is 197 metres long and north to south the length is 133 metres. The Gopuram stands at a height of 38.4 m. Different rulers, as it stands today built the temple, at different periods from the 12th century onwards. It is one of the best examples of Dravidian architecture. The corridor of this temple is the largest in India. The temple is built in a sprawling area of six hectares and has 22 wells. Parakrama Bahu, the ruler of Ceylon guilt the sanctum sanctorum. The Sethupathis, rulers of Ramanathapuram since 12th century, built the corridors and other vast structures of the temple and the Gopurams. The sanctum sanctorum is built of polished granite stone.
The legend goes that Lord Rama upon reaching Rameswaram after his Sri Lankan conquest, desired to worship Lord Shiva to absolve himself from the sin of killing Ravana, who was a Brahmin. Hanuman was dispatched to fetch a Lingam from Mount Kailash (abode of Lord Shiva) in the Himalayas. Since Hanuman was late when the auspicious time for installation neared, Sita made a Siva-linga out of sand. This linga was then installed by Rama and is known as the Rama-linga, because Lord Rama installed it. When Hanuman returned with the Siva-linga from Mount Kailash, he was disappointed to find a linga already installed. Rama told Hanuman that he could remove the linga made by Sita and install the one He brought in its place. Hanuman took hold of the linga with his hands but could not move it. He then wrapped his tail around it and tried to pull the linga out, but it did not move. The linga is said to still have the marks of Hanumanís tail on it. To soothe him, Lord Rama Rama had the linga he brought, the Viswa-linga, installed alongside the Rama-linga. One is called the Viswalingam and other the Ramalingam. He ordered that puja (worship) be performed first to the Viswalingam, which is still being done today.
Gandhamadhana Parvatham : This two-story temple is on a small hilltop, about 2.5 kms. northwest of the Ramanathaswami Temple. There is a set of Lord Ramaís footprints on a Chakra here and the small Ramjharoka Temple. There is a good view of the island from here. The place is called Vedaranyam. It is said that Hanuman made his great leap to Lanka from here. There are 2 Lingams - one prepared by Sita out of sand and the other brought by Hanuman from Kailash. The main deity is the one made by Sita, but both the Lingas are worshiped. Apart from the two revered lingams, there is the image of Lord Vishnu, as Sheshanarayana, lying on the Sheshnag - the sacred snake.
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