A journey through the Pamban bridge was one of my motivation for taking this trip among other reasons. Rameswaran has a very special place in the hindu tradition, as the Ramanathaswamy Temple situated here is one of the Char Dhams. The Char Dham pilgrimage is an all Hindu affair. The journey across the four cardinal points in India is considered sacred by Hindus who aspire to visit these temples once in their lifetime.
So I have been planning to visit Rameswaram for a very long time now, because of my religious inclination and my love for Lord Shiva and also the opportunity to explore the extreme south-east end of India. Finally the moment arrived when I was visiting my native place in Kerala, Palakkad for an annual visit.
I had a special train connecting from Palakkad...the Ernakulam - Rameswaram special, that proved to be an added advantage. I boarded the train at 8 in the evening. The train was scheduled to arrive at Rameshwaram at 4am next day.
The special part of the journey, a chance to pass through the Pamban bridge, came at around 3.30 am when it was still very dark outside. The train considerable reduces speed and then came the moment everyone aboard was woken up to witness. The experience could not be described in words. To the right side you can see a bridge for other vehicles and to the left is just the vast ocean. I tried to peep out of the trains door to the left, but was petrified by the vastness of the infinite ocean and the darkness adding to the scene.
The bridge connects the Rameshwaram island, part of Tamilnadu, to mainland India. There are local trains plying regularly from Madhurai to Rameshwaram.
The main pilgrim place of Rameshwaram is the Ramanathaswamy temple dedicated to Lord Shiva. The temple is just 2 kms from the railway station. When I reached at 4am, walking to the destination was out of point because it was still pretty dark. I took an auto to reach the temple.
The area around the temple is highly commercialised with hotels and lodges for the service of the people travelling from all across India. I was worried if I could find any place to stay in this wee hour, but to my surprise there were countable number of lodges that we open and we readily inviting guests to stay. I went into C B Lodge and as I was travelling solo I settled for a small room with basic amenities for 300 bucks.
I enquired and found that the temple opens at around 5 - 5.30am for the visitors for darshan. If you want to follow all rituals then ideally you should visit and take a dip at the Agnithertam which is at a 2 mins walking distance from the temple.
Followed by the dip here you have to lineup and visit the 22 wells in the temple premise and water from each well has a different taste. The water here is believed to have medicinal properties. After being poured with water from all 22 wells you can visit the main temple premise to take darshan. You need to change to a new dry cloth before going inside the temple.
A visit to Rameshwaram is incomplete without a visit to Dhanushkodi. It is famous for the beaches. The auto guy was asking for 500 bucks for a return trip to Dhanushkodi from temple. But I declined the idea as I was aware of the option to travel by bus. The bus stop is not far away from the temple.
Bus no.3 and 7(which most don't know) take you to Dhanushkodi. Its a journey of 25 kms and will easily take half an hour. The road leading to Dhanuskodi is nothing less than awesome. The beauty of the region cannot be described in words nor can any clicks justify the spectacular view which was being covered throughout the journey. The road has The Arabian sea on one side and the Bay of Bengal on the other. The color of the water on either side provided the much needed contrast.
The Dhanushkodi bus stop is near the check post. The so called Old Dhanushkodi which was destroyed by cyclone in the mid 90s is about 8 kms from the bus stop. To reach there you have to take the shared van ride. This ride is through the half swamp land and the ride is nothing but bumpy, but it is one hell of an experience, an enjoyable one for sure.
The van will take you to the point where you can go and see the ruins of the destroyed city. The same ride will take you back to the bus stand and this round trip will take about 2 hours.
This is to the extreme end of Dhanushkodi, it marks the end of India. It is 12 kms straight road leading to Arichalmunai from the bus stop. A spoiler though is you cannot take your private vehicle though this road.
The road can be described as heaven for a biker with just water bodies to either side. The road has really bright blue water of Indian ocean to the right and the Bay of Bengal to the left. I was awestruck with the spectacular view which was available standing at the center of the road. But hard luck I could not travel on the very road and had to return. Walking was an option though, but the heat was such that I could not gather the courage to walk 4kms with absolutely no shade whatsoever.
So this trip was a new experience in all aspect. It helped me satisfy both, a religious getaway and a destination to explore like never before. The beautiful, awe inspiring visuals throughout this journey was enough to have a feeling of satisfaction, a sense of achievement. I also finally got a chance to test my mettle at travelling solo and have a successful solo travel story of my own :).