1212 pillars and the world’s largest temple corridor – in Ramanathaswamy temple of Rameshwaram, India

It was the occasion of MahaShivratri yesterday that ended with Sunrise this morning. A lot of Indians celebrated the festival with music, happiness and energetic sounds. In Isha Yoga Centre, Coimbatore, they hosted a night-long MahaShivratri festival that’s believed to be one of the biggest festivals in its own right.

Each one of us has different reasons to celebrate MahaShivratri – cultural, social, religious, Yogic and spiritual. Since childhood, I have mostly celebrated this festival because it was too much fun. So many delicacies, fun music nights and get togethers were reasons enough to pull me in. The ‘adult’ me has been more skeptical, judging everything in the left hemisphere of the brain, and silencing the right brain every now and then. This is probably why the ‘adult me’ doesn’t admit or refute the presence of God publically. However, the same version of me has also had experiences that cannot be explained with the finality that often logical reasoning claims. These experiences have overlapped with the realms of spirituality. Some of my friends often label these as a figment of my imagination 🙂 or insane (in plain terms). 😀

Let me share such an insane/ crazy experience with you…of me visiting Ramanathaswamy temple in Rameshwaram.

The morning Darshan:

All five of us (my family) took an early morning bath, dressed up and left for the temple before 6:00 am. My dad, as expected, busied himself with buying Prasad, while my mother kept telling all three of us (me, my sister and my brother) that we should stick together and not wander off…as if we will get lost. Old habits!

Parents seldom realise that kids, when grow up, often lose their way…only to find it later all on their own.

We decided to straightaway go for the Darshan of the deity, spend sometime meditating over the temple architecture, get some souvenirs and head back to the hotel.

That was our plan.

But then, man proposes and God disposes.

Dravidian Architecture that leaves you spellbound

Ramanathaswamy temple has got three corridors that are built so intricately that you can spend hours admiring them. The third corridor has got 1212 pillars, with each pillar standing tall at 30 ft. height. This is considered to be the world’s longest temple corridor. You don’t need to know this to admire its magnificence. Built in a chessboard style, it leaves you inspired and wondering at the same time.

By the way, did you know that if you look at these pillars from one end to another, they all converge to form one single dot. No, not kidding! Ingenious, right? Well, such is India! Ingenious and Incredible!

22 Teerthams and one holy bath

What is a Teertham, you might wonder. A teertham is a holy source of water which can catalyse your spiritual journey or make you more receptive to the grace of spiritual processes. 🙂

In short, a Teertham is a sacred space of water. 🙂

Rameshwaram has 64 Teerthams, out of which, 24 are believed to catalyse your journey to salvation, if you take a bath in them. Out of these 24, 22 teerthams are inside the temple premises.

Contrary to my parents’ wishes, I planned to go for the Darshan straightaway and come out – to avoid the crowds and the covid scare. And that’s how we decided to roll. Finding our way through corridors, we reached the place that would lead us to the Sanctum Sanctorum, upon taking the Right turn. We took the Right turn and the ‘Exit’ sign caught my attention.

Did we lose our way? We probably did. And hence, we took an about-turn. A few zigzags later, we reached the same place again. Someone else also told us to take a Right for the darshan. It had started to get crowded by then. We hurriedly took the ‘Right’ turn and crossed the corridor to again find the exit sign. I had started to get anxious by then. I didn’t want my parents to walk so much mostly because my dad has difficulties in walking. Finally, we decided to take one more about-turn – and try out a completely new route. A few zigzag turns later, we reached Agni Teertham (much to my parents’ delight). And my parents took the holy water to pour it all over them.

We had somehow reached the route through the 22 Teerthams. I kept finding shortcuts, and we kept hitting one Teertham after another. A few volunteers manned each Teertham. They would drop an empty bucket of water in the Teertham, pull the filled one out and throw the holy water over the gathered devotees in a way that everyone would get a drop of it.

Four of them, in our family of five!
Pamban Bridge

My sister, my brother and I maintained our distance so that we take only that much holy water that fit our cupped hands.

But then, God had other plans.

First, my brother dropped the inhibitions. And took the bath. And then my sister stopped measuring the amounts of Teertham water, and let herself loose. She let the water fall on her without caring for anything else.

I was standing in between Two Teerthams trying to figure out, how can I make the rest of my family skip this itinerary and straightaway reach the deity, when one of the volunteers threw a bucketful of water on me. With that, I forgot all calculations and joined the groups chanting, “Har Har Mahadev”.

By the way, do you know what that means? When we say “Har Har Mahadev”, we urge the God to take away all our sorrows, and bless us with blissfulness.


Darshan of the deity

Two hours & one holy bath later, we stood outside the VIP queue to the Darshan. Nothing had worked as per my plan and yet I was calm. My father was walking fine. My mother was as usual scanning the surroundings. And my siblings were holding the tickets in their hands. Within the next hour, we completed the Darshan and exited the premises.

And you know what? The exit signs that I paid so much attention to, had misled us. That was in fact the way to the diety; I just kept getting confused with the signs.

I guess I found my way after having lost it repeatedly.

Pamban Bridge

Ramanathaswamy temple is one of the 12 Jyotirlingas as well as one of the four major Dhams. A visit to the temple is considered ultra significant in the religious circuit of Hinduism. Situated at a distance of 10 kms. from the Pamban bridge, Ramanathaswamy temple is one of the main attractions of the town, Rameshwaram. You can reach Rameshwaram by train or by road.


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