(Last Updated on : 14/08/2010)
Ramanathaswamy Temple is situated in the beautiful island of Rameswaram. This temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva and is one of the representations of Dravidian architecture. This temple is the centre of attraction and thousands of pilgrims pour in daily. This temple is known worldwide for its magnificent corridors. The corridors run 4000 ft in length and 30 ft in breadth, which are lined by massive sculptured pillars.
The sculptures captured the themes like elephants lifting their trunks caught between the paws and fangs of rampant lions, hunters and warriors riding on horses or elephants. Sethupathis, the rulers of Ramanathapuram district between 1414 A.D. and 1649 A.D constructed the Ramanathaswamy Temple. Since then, it has grown in leaps and bounds and reached to the present stage. At the eastern gate before the Nataraja shrine the statues of Sethupathis can be seen in a line in the corridor. Some of these sculptures can be found in the Kalyana Mandapam too. All these are built so nicely that looks like living figures.
The entrance or the gopuram of the Ramanathaswamy Temple can be seen on the east side facing the sea. The front of the gopuram rises to a height of 126 ft. and is 100 metres away from the sea. The seawater here is considered to be sacred and called 'Agni Theertham'. The devotees come here in large number to take bath in the sea water here.
It is said that the Ramanathaswamy Temple was built at the spot where Rama worshipped Lord Shiva after killing the demon Ravana, king of Lanka, who was a great devotee of Shiva. As the legend goes, Hanuman was sent to Kailas to bring the Lingam in order to worship Shiva. It further goes that Hanuman failed to return before the arrival of the auspicious hour, so Sita herself moulded a Lingam for Rama.
Later, when Hanuman arrived, he was consoled and the Lingam brought by Him was given precedence over Ramanatha. It was worshipped first before the worship of Ramanatha by the devotees.