Shiva temple, floating rocks and sandy beaches
25.11.2015 - 26.11.2015 30 °C
It was another long trip down to Rameswaram last week, which is one of the most sacred places in India. It is located on the Pamban Island with a peninsular which stretches out towards Sri Lanka. There has been a lot of rain recently and, on the way through Madurai, we saw people washing their clothes, cars and motorbikes in the river which, only a few weeks ago, was completely dried up.
The main attraction for pilgrims, devotees and tourists alike is the Ramanathaswamy Temple which is dedicated to Shiva and dominates the centre of the town. We walked out in the evening down to the water's edge where there were quite a few people paddling in the sea and goats hanging out on the beach. We walked the perimeter of the temple from the outside which is 865 feet long and 657 wide and construction was still taking place.
The following morning we took the opportunity to go into the temple to view the famous corridors, the total length of which is 3,850 feet and there are over 1,000 pillars each with individual and distinct carvings. At the centre of the temple is a lingum, this is a representation of Shiva - "According to the Ramayana, Rama, the seventh incarnation of god Vishnu, is believed to have prayed to Shiva here to absolve sin of killing a brahmana, committed during his war against the demon king Ravana in Sri Lanka. Rama wanted to have the largest lingam to worship Shiva. He directed Hanuman, the monkey lieutenant in his army, to bring the lingam from Himalayas. Since it took longer to bring the lingam, Sita, the wife of Rama, built a small lingam out of the sand available in the sea shore, which is believed to be the lingam in the sanctum." (Thanks again Wikipedia)
Hanuman had a further part to play in the story at Rameswaram this time with Rama's (also known as Adam's) Bridge - this is a chain of limestones which stretches from the tip of Pamban Island, called Dhanushkodi to Sri Lanka's Mannar Island. In Hindu theology, Hanuman and his monkey army built the bridge from floating rocks so that Rama could rescue his wife Sita who was being held captive in Sri Lanka. There is a place where we went to see smaller examples of the floating rocks which are said to have been touched by Hanuman. There are various geological theories as to how the 'bridge' came into existence... There's a video on YouTube of an example of the floating rock.
It's only possible to drive about 10km out towards Dhanushkodi before the pathway becomes too sandy. Although you can get a jeep to take you further out, we just stopped at this halfway point to check out the beautiful coast, we had paddle in the surf and saw a few fisherman hauling in their catch. Crossing the road bridge back to the Indian mainland, I stopped to take a couple of snaps of the Pamban rail bridge, before we headed back home.
On the way home we thought we'd stop for a quick snack, we pulled into a place and asked the parking attendant whether they had any snacks available "oh yes yes yes" we were told. As we went inside and checked again we were told yes again, however as we sat down there was a flurry of activity as it seemed that about three guys were putting together whole thalis for us. We stopped them mid track and explained again that we just wanted some vegetable puff pastry squares (vegetable puffs), a bit of conversation ensued and we were told "five minutes" as one of the waiters hopped on his motorbike to buy us some puffs from the shop down the road - they were very nice!
The long, scenic route home through various villages and really pictoresque countryside was eased by singing along to Rubber Soul and Revolver.