The ever elusive trip to Rameswaram materialized like a rabbit out of a magician’s cap. Munnar happened earlier because Rameswaram-ooty was becoming the funniest trip of the year because of its “V” shaped trajectory( If you can’t understand the point, grab an atlas). Quoting my dear friend Sameer – “Preferring Munnar over Rameswaram was nothing less than blasphemy, which let to the shaky start of the trip to the hill-station.” In a nutshell, Gods were angry as we were ignoring them for hill-stations and thus, a trip to Rameswaram was on a red alert priority. While looking for options of trains, we realized that there were no options. There was just one train. So the five wanderers (me, Sameer, Prashant, Atipriya & Ruchika) packed our baggage for a one day vacation on the island of Rameswaram.
By the time we reached the station, it had started raining and little we knew that Chennai would be hit by the worst rains of the year as we moved away from the city(the first sign that the gods were ready to forgive us). As soon as the train snaked towards our destination, we started gobbling like “starved to death” hounds. In-between we had rounds of antakshari, fortune teller and leg pulling. By the time we woke up, we were very near to the Pamban Setu, the 2.3km bridge which connects Rameswaram to the Indian mainland. The island is situated in the Gulf of Mannar and is on the very tip of the Indian Peninsula. It is separated from the Indian mainland by the Pamban channel and is less than 40km from the Jaffna Peninsula.
The exhilarating experience of being on a track which is inches away from the lapping waves of a beach is something which can’t be defined. Then suddenly we were traversing the bridge and all we could see around was water. We were in the middle of an ocean with such clear water that we could see the rocks beneath. This bridge can also be raised up from the middle so that the ships can pass. Soon we reached the laid-back island and found a chauffeur driven car at our disposal (courtesy Atipriya’s father).
After freshening up at our hotel, we marched towards the main attraction, The Ramanathaswamy temple. According to the legend, Lord Ram along with Seeta and Laxman installed and worshipped a sivalinga here to ask forgiveness for BrahmaHatya(Ravan was a Brahman). The temple also houses the Golden chariot which is used during celebrations and the 1219m pillared “almost” rectangular corridor. Walking down the corridor we gaped at the symmetrically carved pillars, the paintings at the ceiling and the effect which the sunlight created while peeking through the pillars. We were all transported to another era as we wandered in the corridors. The temple also boasts of 22 wells where you can take bath to complete your trip to the holy dhaam. We were in no mood to roam around in wet clothes for the rest of the day, so we just got a few drops sprinkled on us from 3 wells.
From the temple, we moved to the area near the shore where the holy dip can be taken. There was one very old couple who got into the water holding on to another guy, who was maybe their guide. They were so fragile and old that I couldn’t stop staring at them. The lady let go of her stick and held to her husband’s hand who was holding the guide and moving ahead. Somehow, I found it very romantic. 🙂
After this moving site, we reached the temple of PanchMukhi Hanuman. Its a very small temple, which doesn’t look like a temple at all. The main attraction of this not-like-a-temple temple is the floating stones. According to the legend, these stones were used to made the famous-even-seen-by-NASA bridge to SriLanka. Yes, the stones were floating, but they are basically corals and are like sponges and that’s why they float. You can even buy a small floating stone for as low as 200Rs here and make your own mini bucket bridges at home.
We then moved on to the Kothandaramar Temple. It is said that after winning the battle, Sri Ram crowned Vibhishana as the king of Lanka at this place. After devouring the nariyal paani and my personal crowning as the “coco king”, our cab landed us near Dhanushkodi. It was the cleanest beach we had ever seen…and the whitest. Our cab left us 3km short of Dhanushkodi, which is the last point of India and the point from where the historical setu was build. There are no roads to reach Dhanushkodi, but a narrow strip of land piercing the ocean. We started walking but soon got exhausted, and thus couldn’t reach the point. Instead we did a lot of chaii-chapa-chaii on the beach, wrote some names in the sand and went to the Ramarpadm temple.
This temple is famous for encompassing the footprints of Lord Ram, and for being at the highest point of Rameswaram. From here you can see the Largest TV tower of Asia and the Ramanathaswamy temple together. After sipping some sugarcane juice here, we moved back to our hotel, where we took some quick naps and very quick showers before moving back to the railway station for our journey back home.
The view on the Pamban bridge was more enchanting than before. Far away on the ocean, there was a huge group of clouds in varying shades of blues, raining with all their might. The cold misty winds were flowing directionless and the four doors of the boogie were the best places to get lost in the moment….the moment when I wanted the bridge to be longer than it was. On one of the doors, I saw a lady staring at the clouds and writing something on a piece of paper. “This is how poems are born” – I told myself and moved to another door without disturbing her.
I stared at the beautiful scene enfolding before me and realized that the Gods have finally forgiven us…..