Rameswaram is a town in Tamil Nadu.
Nearest Airport in Madurai - 174 km Indian Airlines connect’s Madurai with Chennai, Bangalore and Mumbai.
Connected with all major cities like Chennai, Coimbatore, Madurai, Trichy, Tirunelveli
Connected with all important towns of Tamil Nadu, City Buses are available including night services. Point to Point services, Tourist taxi, auto / cycle rickshaws and horse carts are also available.The taxi charges for a small car (Indica) is around Rupees 10 per KM. It costs around Rupees 3800 for return trip from Madurai to Rameswaram. Andhra Pradesh State Road Transport corporation ( APSRTC ) operates Rameswaram – Tirupathi daily service.
Pooja procedure at the main temple
It is very important for you to know the correct procedure to offer Pooja at the main temple. Temple management allows only Hindus to perform this pooja. It is best to hire a guide a day in advance, generally around Rs 400-500 for everything. Visiting the Ramanathaswamy Temple (main temple ) involves a 4 step process:
Mani Darshanam or spatikha Linga Darshanam - You should watch the Sphatic (Natural Crystal) mani first thing in the morning at main temple. Darshan timings are 5:00 - 6:00 a.m. Some guides around Rameswaram told you that there is no need to take a bath for seeing mani dharshan , But According to Holy Scriptures of Hindus one should have to took bath before entering Temple premises, better you have a bath.
There is a special entrance for Rs 50- but it's better to stand in the general queue for Rs 10 which, counter-intuitively, moves faster.
Samudra Snanam - Next, you should walk down to Samudram(Sea) for Snanam (bathing). The sea, 300m away from the temple, is very peaceful and shallow here without any tides at all. Mythology says that Samudram surrendered to Lord Rama during his attack on Lanka and since then it is calm.
Teerth Snanam - Proceed to the temple for Teerth snanam (Holy bath). The temple has 22 wells that are said to contain holy water from different places. You need to sequentially take bath at each place. The markings are good and you can easily make out the next well.The government rate for this is Rs 25 per person. Attendants are there at each well and they will pour water on you. They splash a bucket of water on a group of pilgrims. You may need to go in queue. You can also hire attendants out side the temple for this process. But they will charge 150 rs per person. Plenty of these attendants can be found at the temple entrances with a bucket and rope in hand. If you feel like getting drenched with one full bucket of water at each well, you need to hire an attendant; otherwise, this is not required.
Main Pooja - Now you can change your clothes and dry yourself. There are different prices for different kinds of pooja. The basic one starts at Rs 111. Your guide will arrange for the Pujari (priest), who will do some rituals. Then he will offer milk, grass, leaves, etc. to Lord Shiva on your behalf in main temple. You can view all this sitting in front at a price of Rs 500. Afterwards, he will tell you the story of Rameswaram. He will also ask you to recite some shlokas after him. Pujari charges around Rs 500-600 for his services.
You can also enjoy sumptuous prasadam at 12 noon. It is offered near inner door of Lord Shiva temple.
Sri Ramanathaswamy Temple - this temple situated near the sea on the eastern side of the island is renowned for its magnificent prakaras or corridors with massive sculptured pillars on either side. The longest corridor in the world is here and it is 197 metres long from East to West and is 133 metres wide from South-North. The temple has a Gopuram 38.4 metres tall. Different rulers built the temple as it stands today, at different periods from the 12th century A.D. Pooja is performed for an hour early morning daily to the Spadikalingam that was given by the Shankaracharya to this temple. There is a popular belief that one needs to take bath in 22 theertha kundams with in the temple premises before having darshan. Locker facility is provided to tourists just outside the temple at charge of Rs.10 per locker. Shoes and footwear are not allowed inside temple. They can be deposited outside temple for free of cost. There are many guides who will approach us as soon as we enter the temple premises. One needs to negotiate the deal of how much to pay them if we need their services. It is believed that the water from these kundams have some medicinal properties. The history of the temple is linked with "Ramayan" and it is believed the the deity was installed by Lord Rama after the war with Ravana at the instance of the great saints to get rid of the "Brahma Dosham".
Agnitheertham - Sri Ramanathaswamy temple faces east. The seashore, about 100 metres from the main entrance of the temple, is very calm and therefore ideal for bathing. The water at this place is considered sacred and known as Agni theertham. Pilgrims perform poojas in honour of their ancestors at this seashore.
Gandamadana Parvatham - is a hillock situated 3 km away and is the highest point in the island. Here one can see the imprint of Lord Rama’s feet on a chakra. The entire island of Rameswaram is visible from this point.
Sugreevar Temple/Theertham - is situated on the way to Gandamadana Parvatham near the Doordarshan Kendra.
Satchi Hanuman Temple - is considered to be the place where Hanuman delivered the good news of finding Sita to Rama with satchi or evidence, Choodamani or the jewel that belonged to Sita. Situated 3 km from the main temple, on the way to the Gandamadana Parvatham.
Badrakaliamman Temple - is a temple for Devi Durga, situated 2 km from the main temple on the way to the Gandamadana Parvatham.
The Five-faced Hanuman Temple (2 km from the main temple) - the deity of Hanuman drawn withsenthooram. Idols of Lord Ram, Sita and Hanuman brought from Dhanushkodi during the 1964 cyclone were placed here. The floating stone, used to build theSethuBandanamor the bridge between India and Lanka can be found in this temple.
JadaTheertham (about 3.5 km from Rameswaram on the Dhanushkodi road) - legend has it that Lord Rama, on his way back after killing Ravana, Worshipped SriRamalinga (believed to be installed by him). Before doing so, he washed his hair(Jada) in this theertham to purify himself.
Nambu Nayagiamman Temple - is greatly venerated by the people of Ramnad District. It is situated 8 km from the main temple in Rameswaram on the way to Dhanushkodi.
Kothandaramaswamy Temple - is located 12 km away from Rameswaram. A popular belief is that Vibishana, brother of Ravana, surrendered before Rama here.
Dhanushkodi (18 km) - the southern tip of the island, Dhanushkodi was completely washed away by the 1964 cyclone. This is a strip of land about one km wide and 18 km long on the eastern end of Rameswaram island. On one side are the waters of the Indian Ocean and on the other the waters of the Bay of Bengal. The two seas otherwise known as Ratnakaran and Mahodadhi with their confluence is shaped like a bow while the strip of land resemble an arrow poised for release. Devout Hindus consider the Adi Sethu or the arrowhead, a sacred place to perform religious rites. It is also place worth visiting for its scenic beauty and bird life.
Villoondi Theertham - is situated 7 km from the main temple on the way to Pamban.
Annai Indira Gandhi Road Bridge (12 km) - is also known as the Pamban Bridge that connects the Rameswaram island with the main land. It is the longest sea bridge in India and its length is nearly 2.2 km and stands as a fine example for Indian architecture. The bridge was constructed with sufficient elevation. The islands near by and parallel rail bridge below can be viewed from this bridge.
Glass boat ride at Pamban Bridge: [Update(April 2014): THIS RIDE HAS BEEN STOPPED BY THE TOURISM DEPARTMENT, HOWEVER LOOK FOR UPDATES WHEN YOU REACH PAMBAN BRIDGE. There is only one glass boat at the govt. boating center on the other end of the bridge now. That boat too is not in order, as water has entered between the two layers of glass through which you are supposed to see the corals. The boatman will tell you that the glass is not in order only when you reach the point where you are supposed to see the corals. The water is shallow there, but you won't be able to see the corals with the glass in that condition. As such, it is an utter waste of money till the govt. officials fix the boat. Even if you go there with the hope that the boat would be repaired, before boarding that single boat check the glass and ask the boatman if it is in proper condition].
One can enjoy the wonderful glass boat ride near pambanbridge to see coral reefs in the Sea. Boat has a glass bottom which enables you to see corals through it. To reach this place, you need to catch local bus from Rameswaram bus stand to Pamban bridge. From there you have to take an auto to boat center (Rs 40 - 50)(minimum 400 per boat of 8 persons), it is almost halfway on the bridge. Boat is run by Government officials and you don't have to bargain. They provide good service and don't even expect a tip from tourists. If you want to have a good view, be there between 12 noon - 1 pm on a good sunny day. Always carry an umbrella with you and watch the coral reef in umbrella shade, otherwise you'll see your own reflection on the glass instead of corals(imp: try to go for glass boat ride with a group because some days there might be no tourists there and you might end up paying more as there is no one to share glass boat ride with you) :) '
Visit Dhanushgodi: Apart from the temple this certainly is one of the best things to see and do in Rameshwaram. One can get to Dhanushgodi either by bringing their own vehicle or by using state transport or by hiring a jeep (Rs 1,300 is the going rate) or hire an auto. One can catch #3 bus from Rameshwaram to reach Dhanushgodi. Usually bus operate once in a hour. The road to Dhanushgodi was recently inaugrated by Indian prime minister Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Earlier before road was built, there used to be sand road and one had to travel via Mini truck till end of Dhanushgodi since tyres of private vehicles used to get stuck in the sand. But after the new road is built, the mini truck have been retired and tourists bring their own vehicle or come via bus. The view is amazing with sea on both sides , on one side the Bay of Bengal and on the other the Indian Ocean , the Bay of Bengal side is relatively calm and hence goes by the name (Penn Kadal , Lady Sea) and the India Ocean is rough with waves lashing and is called ( Aaan Kadal, Male Sea).
Don't forget to visit ghost town which was destroyed in the 1964 cyclone after which the city was deserted, you can see the post office , railway station , church and rail tracks in ruins. The whole trip takes about 2 hours and its best to go in the evening or early morning to avoid the scorching sun. One can also have fresh fish at roadside restaurants. These restaurants are operated by local fishermen.