- Rameshvaram is an island off the coast of Tamil Nadu whose name, “Rama the god,” indicates its sacred status. It is told in the RAMAYANA that Lord RAMA, wishing to purify himself after kill-ing his enemy, the demon king RAVANA, stopped at Rameshvaram. He sent HANUMAN, the monkey god, to BENARES (Varanasi) to get a SHIVA LINGAM for him to worship. While Hanuman was gone, Rama’s wife, SITA made a lingam out of sand and began to worship it. When Hanuman returned, Rama ordered him to get rid of the sand lingam and install his own. Hanuman could not dislodge the lingam created by Sita. The second lingam then was set up beside the first so that both could be worshipped.Rameshvaram is one of the most visited PIL-GRIMAGE sites in India and is accepted in Hindu-ism as one of the four major sites in India to visit (along with BADRINATH, Puri, and DWARAKA). The main temple on the island is dedicated to Shiva and is said to have been established by Rama himself. Historically, the present temple bears the architecture of the seventh through 13th centuries. There are a number of sacred places on the island associated with Rama, including the spot from which Rama allegedly shot his bow to destroy the bridge to Lanka after the war.Further reading: Anne Feldhaus, Connected Places: Region, Pilgrimage and Geographical Imagination in India (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2003); N. Vanamamali Pillai, Temples of the Setu and Rameswaram (Delhi: Kunj, 1982); Baidyanath Saraswati, Traditions of Tirthas in India: the Anthropology of Hindu Pilgrimage (Varanasi: N. K. Bose Memorial Foundation, 1983).
Encyclopedia of Hinduism. A. Jones and James D. Ryan. 2007.