Visit Rameshwaram, one of India’s holiest sites, which sits on Pamban Island facing Sri Lanka across the Gulf of Mannar. Here, Hindu pilgrims flock to the seafront, 12th-century Ramanathaswamy Temple, where the god Rama is said to have worshipped Shiva. Before entering its inner sanctum, barefoot devotees stop at its 22 water tanks to be doused with pails of purifying water by temple attendees. Ramanathaswamy is famed for its long, optical-illusion-style corridors, the most notable has over a thousand sculpted sandstone pillars and a ceiling adorned with colourful lotus art; only Hindus can enter the sacred sanctum where two lingams (symbols of Lord Shiva) are enshrined.
Aside from being one of the four holy Char Dham pilgrimage sites for Hindus, Rameshwaram has plenty of island charms to uncover. Many journeys start with a train ride from Tamil Nadu via India’s oldest sea bridge, which is so low it appears to hover just above the azure water, licked by waves. Prawn and lobster fishers float off golden stretches of beach that are rarely visited by tourists, save for a growing number of kite surfers who’ve discovered the island’s windy treasures. In Dhanushkodi, you’ll find an eerie ghost town that was hit by a cyclone in 1964 and submerged, the skeletons of its church, train station and post office are all that remains.
To uncover Rameshwaram’s religious heritage ask our specialists to include this off-the-beaten-trail destination to your India itinerary.
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