This trip was long overdue. But I was only able to check this off my bucket list in the month of June 2018 after 10 months of moving to Trivandrum. Me and my friend decided to travel on the 30th June - 1st July weekend. We booked train tickets from Trivandrum to Madurai scheduled for departure on Friday night and reach Madurai by early morning. It was a passenger train and the overnight journey is always preferable to me.
We reached Madurai on time. We had already decided to visit Rameswaram prior to Madurai since there are no direct trains from Rameswaram to Trivandrum for the return journey. So as soon as we reached Madurai Junction, we had to board a train to Rameswaram and we were lucky enough to have found morning passenger train from Madurai to Rameswaram. Now we were in the train towards Rameswaram and I was eagerly waiting for the famous Pamban Bridge. We all have heard about this bridge from our childhood and seen this masterpiece of infrastructure on television. It was time to witness it first hand. It takes approximately 3 hrs to reach Rameswaram from Madurai. Pamban bridge comes towards the end of the journey. Since I was in the train running on the Pamban bridge, I couldn't see the bridge but I felt happy and a sense of accomplishment captured me. From the window, I could see the sea on both the sides of the bridge. There is a flyover also connecting Rameswaram with Madurai right next to the Pamban bridge. People were stopping on the flyover and taking pictures of the train and the bridge. I could only wave at them.
After we reached the junction, we took an auto towards the Ramanathaswamy Temple. The auto driver was helpful and dropped us on the main road in front of the temple. There were many hotels on that road itself and we decided to book a room and get refreshed. The accommodation was pocket friendly. We were ready by 11:45 and started towards the temple.
For the uninitiated, Ramanathaswamy temple is one of the four Hindu pilgrimage site with huge entrance gates in all the four directions and intricately sculpted pillars. Photography is strictly prohibited inside the temple premises. People from all over the country come to this holy place to take bath in the waters of Agni Theertham and the sacred water tanks. One has to pay a minimal fee for the bath with sacred water. After taking bath, you have to dry yourself completely before going for the darshan. The temple was moderately crowded. We washed our hands and feet with sacred water from all the wells and went for the darshan. The temple is big and the corridors leading to the main area are also huge. I'll leave the rest to be explored by you. The architecture is simply astonishing.
After the temple visit, we were hungry and had lunch at Saravana Bhavan. They served authentic south indian food and it was good. After lunch, we started walking towards the Theertham ghat off the beach. We circled the temple and then boarded the bus to Dhanushkodi which is around 20 Kms from Rameswaram. The bus journey was not comfortable as it was crowded. You can always take an auto to Dhanushkodi for extra bucks.
The way to Dhanushkodi is beautiful as there is Indian Ocean on one side and Bay of Bengal on the other side of the road. The town is uninhabited after it got destroyed during the 1964 Rameswaram cyclone. The bus dropped us at the end of the road and it the last turnaround of South India. Upon reaching there, I received a message from my mobile carrier which read "Welcome to Sri Lanka"!! That was unexpected and cool at the same time.
It is believed that Ram Sethu was built from here to Sri Lanka and thus has high importance in the religious history of India. We spent an hour over there and returned from the last bus to Rameswaram.
Next place: House of Kalam. APJ Abdul Kalam was born and raised in this place. We all know him well and are aware of his accomplishments as the President of India. After the visit to House of Kalam, we returned to the temple road and then took a boat ride. It was evening by that time. The whole day went by quickly and we took it all in, the sunset, the breeze, the aura of that place, the view. We felt lucky and privileged to have come here and seen all this. By 8 in the night, we had dinner and departed to our room for a long night's rest.