The Ramanathaswamy temple is a popular Hindu temple located on the island of Rameshwaram in Tamil Nadu. The temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva. According to the Shaiva mythology, it is commonly believed that in this place, Lord Rama prayed to Lord Shiva to absolve all the sins he might have committed during the battle against the demon king Ravana. The Ramanathaswamy temple is one of the holiest Hindu shrines that should be visited at least once in a lifetime.
The Architecture of Ramanathaswamy Temple
The Ramanathaswamy Temple, like all the other ancient temples in South India, has a high compound wall on all four sides of the temple premises. The huge compound wall measures about 865 feet long from east to west and also one furlong of 657 feet from north to south. The walls have huge towers or Gopurams at the east and west and finished gate towers at the north and the south. The Ramanathaswamy temple, Rameshwaram, has striking long corridors in the interior.
The corridors run between huge colonnades on platforms above 5 feet high. The junction of the third corridor on the west and the paved way leading from the western Gopuram to the Sethumadhava shrine forms a unique structure in the form of a chess board. It is popularly known as Chokkattan Mandapam. The outer set of corridors has a reputation for being the longest in the world.
It is 400 feet each in the east and the west and about 640 feet in the north and south. The inner corridors are about 224 feet in the east and west and about 352 feet each in the north and south. The total length of all these corridors is 3850 feet. There are about 1200 pillars in the outer corridor. The height of the pillars is about 30 feet from the floor to the center of the roof.
History of Ramanathaswamy Temple
People believe that Maa Sita herself created the original Shivling in Ramanathaswamy Temple Rameswaram, and Lord Rama worshiped it on his way to Ayodhya after killing Ravan.
The kings in the 12th century, the Pandya Dynasty, expanded the temple’s structure. The Kings from Sri Lanka also made contributions. Jeyaveera Cinkaiariyan and his successor Gunaveera Cinkaiariyan, who belonged to the Jaffna Kingdom, renovated the prime shrines.
The temple you see today is a combined result of devotees of Lord Shiva over centuries. However, the main credit goes to the Setupatis of Ramanathapuram. In the 17th century, Dalavai Setupati constructed a section of the main eastern Gopuram. Later in the 18th century, Muthuramalinga Setupati built the renowned third corridor called “Chokkatan Mandapam”.
Around 1500, Viyanagarara rulers built composite columns showcasing Virabhadra holding swords and horns.
Opening and Closing Timings
Sri Ramanathaswamy Temple opens at 5 am and closes at 1 pm. And in the evening, the temple opens for darshan from 3 pm to 9 pm. The temple remains open on all days of the week.
Best time to visit Ramanathaswamy Temple
October to March is the best time to visit Ramanathaswamy Temple as the weather is cool and you can do darshan comfortably. Monsoons are also ideal to visit this temple and other temples near Rameshwaram. Mahashivaratri, Navaratri, and Dussehra are major festivals celebrated at Ramanathaswamy Temple. So, plan your visit to temples near Rameswaram accordingly.
How to Reach Ramanathaswamy Temple
Madurai Airport is the closest to Ramanathaswamy Temple, 180 km away. Rameshwaram has a railway station, connected to major cities in India, and is approx. 2 km from the temple. You can board buses from nearby cities or towns like Madurai, Thanjavur, Tiruchirapalli, Tirunelveli, and Nagercoil or drive your vehicle.