Friday, April 29, 2016

Places to see / Teerthas of Rameshwaram: Gandhamadana Parvatham (Rama Padam).

DAY 1: How to reach, where to stay in Rameshwaram | DAY 2: Ramnathaswamy Temple Darshan, Agni Teertham, Sunset boat ride | Extras: Rameshwaram Food Guide, Sweeping Healers of Rameshwaram Sea.

To the naked eye, Rameshwaram is a pretty little coastal town nestled on the Panbam island located at the tip of the Indian peninsula, a little distance away from Sri Lanka. To the believing eye however, Rameshwaram is a big treasure trove of myriad shades of human character like faith, devotion, valour, goodness, service and love. To him, the town breathes life in the great Hindu epic Ramayana by recreating all its characters like Rama, Sita, Lakshmana, Hanuman and many more through intriguing stories, legends, anecdotes and lores floating around in its various teerthams (pilgrim places), the many temples, the fascinating sea, or even those unchartered paths leading to nowhere.

Terrific view from Gandamadana Parvatham, Rameshwaram

Within Rameshwaram, Ramayana reads out like an open book. You just need to roll up a healthy dollop of faith up your sleeve and you are good to go. The town regales not only for its rich mystical value but also reinforces a timeless value in humanity, that of the victory of good over evil.

For our third day of stay in the holy and highly mystic city of Rameshwaram, we head out with an aim to get just a small slice of this spiritual town by discovering a few teerthams (there are 64 in all!) in Rameshwaram. And starting with this post, is my humble attempt to showcase all those teerthams I visited as part-series in My Yatra Diary...

So do come along my friend, the town has oodles of charisma to leave you in wonder. I must warn you though - the skies are grey and the weather forecast predicts sudden showers of rain. Well, but then, for the enthusiastic hearts and curious spirits like us, no weather is bad weather - right?



Drops of rain pittter patter on my rolled-up window as our car pulls over from the long winding road and halts at the base of Gandhamadana Parvatham - our first stop in ‘Places to see/ Teerthams of Rameshwaram’ for the day.

This is the place where you will see Lord Rama’s foot imprints’ says our driver, ‘He had stopped here on his way to Sri Lanka to get a glimpse of His challenger’s territory Sri Lanka.’ 

A quick glance around and Mount Gandhamadana makes for a pretty picture. A small hillock, around 3 kms. northwest of the Rameshwaram town, our driver also informs us that it is the highest vantage point in the town, overlooking the peaceful Rameshwaram sea and the entire coastal town.

Rama Temple at Gandamadana teertham, Rameshwaram
Rama Temple at Gandamadana teertham.

Understandably then, this is the place where you are rewarded with mesmerizing views that take your breath away along with a a precious moment in history that rekindles your spirit in faith and devotion.

A climb of a few steps lined through small shacks selling memorabilia and religious knick-knacks and canopied by large shady groove of tall shady trees takes me to the main temple.

Way to Rama Padam at Gandamadana Parvatham, Rameshwaram
Way to the Rama Padam Temple.

A two-storey mandapa (hall), the temple is simple in structure but carries within its precincts the timeless echoes of an important chapter in the history of Ramayana. I touch the soil close to where Lord Rama’s paduka (feet) are placed on a chakra. Yes, I believe.

View of Rama Temple at Gandamadana Parvatham, Rameshwaram
Gandhamadana Parvatham: Rama Temple.

Another climb of a few more steps, and I now stand at the terrace...

the same place where Lord Ram once saw Sri Lanka ... what do I see today?

A verdant feast in nature, a lush green thicket sprawled across acres and acres of land punctuated by small ponds, interrupted briefly by little roads and human settlements.

Panoramic view from Gandamadana Parvatham of Rameshwaram
Gandhamadana Parvatham: Lord Hanuman took a flight to Lanka from here.

Far, far, far away in the distance, like a jewel in the crown, sticks out the golden structure of the Ramanathaswamy Temple... And nearer home, almost kissing the skies, is the spiked Doordarshan Tower -

Doordarshan Tower  from Gandamadana Hill, Rameshwaram
Can you spot the Ramanathaswamy temple and the Doordarshan Tower in the picture?

Most beautiful is the sky, which has stood watch here far longer than I. Not a clear blue but a mixture of grey and black... perhaps reflecting to me the mixed, somewhat troubled sentiments of Lord Rama and Hanuman in their time.

Terrific view of the coastal town of Rameshwaram from Gandamadana Hill
 From the Gandhamadana Hill, the highest point in Rameshwaram.

A few quality moments spent in the intimate beauty of nature... I walk back to the car, I realized something... Gandhamadana parvatham had flooded the temple gates of my heart in joy and peace.

Travel Tip:

The temple opens as early as 7 AM in the morning, get there during dawn or dusk for the most excellent views.

Address: GP Road, Rameswaram, Tamilnadu, India, GP Rd, Tamil Nadu 623526.

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