Rameswaram is a town in Ramanathapuram district in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu. It is located on an island separated from the mainland by the Pamban channel. Together with Kashi, it is considered one of the holiest places in India to Hindus. Hence, it is a bustling pilgrim centre.
It is situated in the Gulf of Mannar at the very tip of the Indian peninsula. A very important pilgrim centre for the Hindus, Rameshwaram, according to legends, is the place from where Lord Rama, built a bridge across the sea to Lanka to rescue his consort Sita, from her abductor, Ravana. This is also the place where Rama worshipped Shiva to be absolved of the sin of killing Ravana. Both the Vaishnavites and Shaivites visit this pilgrimage centre which is known as the Varanasi of the south.
The religious island is spread in an area of 61.8 square kilometers and happens to be in the shape of a conch. The Ramanatha Swamy Temple occupies major area of Rameshwaram. The masterpiece of Dravidian architecture boasts of the largest temple corridor in India. Different rulers built the Ramanatha Swamy Temple over a period of time starting from the 12th century. The temple comprises forty wells where the taste of the water of each well is different from the other.
Rameshwaram is significant for the Hindus as a pilgrimage to Benaras is incomplete without a Pilgrimage to Rameshwaram. The presiding deity here is in in the form of a Linga with the name sri Ramanatha Swamy , it also happens to be one of the twelve Jyotirlingas. Rameshwaram is also popularly referred to as the 'Benaras of the south'.
The grandest part of the temple is the 1219 m pillared corridor consisting of 3.6 m high granite pillars, richly carved and well proportioned. The perspective presented by these pillars run uninterruptedly to a length of nearly 230 m.
According to the Puranas, upon the advice of Rishis (sages), Rama along with Sita and Lakshmana, installed and worshipped the Sivalinga here to expiate the sin of Brahmahatya (killing of a Brahmin) (Ravana was a Brahmin the great grandson of Brahma). Rama fixed an auspicious time for the installation and sent Anjaneya to Mount Kailas to bring a lingam. As Anjaneya could not return in time, Sita herself made a linga of sand. When Anjaneya returned with a linga from Mount Kailas the rituals had been over. To comfort the disappointed Anjaneya, Rama had Anjaneya’s lingam (Visvalingam) also installed by the side of Ramalinga, and ordained that rituals be performed first to the Visvalingam.
In Rameshwaram Temple, a spiritual "Mani Darshan" happens in early morning everyday. This "Mani" is made of "sphatik"[a precious stone] and in form of "Holy shivling". according to ved this is "Mani" of "sheshnag".