India is a land of pilgrimages. Gods played their roles and incarnated in various forms over time for welfare of the society. Out of many pilgrim places there are 12 jyotirlingas of the ‘God of the Gods’ Lord Mahadeva. 12 of these special places are spread over Indian mainland.
I have been fortunate enough to get the divine call from 6 of them, recent one from southern most Rameshwaram. Rameshwaram means the God of Shri Ram who himself was incarnation of Lord Vishnu. So this beautiful ode by Lord Vishnu to Lord Mahadeva can be felt in the air of this beautiful town. It is the same place where Lord Ram worshipped Lord Mahadev before heading to Lanka defeat King Ravana. He made a Shivlingam from sand and Lord Mahadev blessed him with victory and promised to stay there forever.
Rameshwaram is located on Pamban island in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu. We headed to Chennai from New Delhi. From there we boarded Rameshwaram Express in the evening that dropped us to the town next day early in the morning. But it was not just a normal train ride. The train crossed Pamban Rail Bridge riding on which literally feels like riding over the sea. The track almost touches the sea and you can say when you see the road bridge at a good height. Slowly and steadily train crosses the bridge and reached Rameshwaram. With devotees all around it was such a peaceful and positive air around. We checked into Goswami Mutt, a decent place of stay as it was quite near to the main temple. Every family has a pandit in all major religious places who maintains log of who visited the place and when. We made a contact with our Pandit who arranged for Darshan and worship in the temple and suggested us to visit in the noon. Meanwhile we hired an autorikshaw who took us around to explore the small town of rameshwaram. We visited the Shri ram charan Paduka, Place where Shri Hanuman landed from lanka, place where Vibhishan (Ravan’s brother) was coroneted the king of Lanka by Lakshman, Panchmukhi Hanuman temple and few Kund (small lakes). One place that we specially visited was a part of ruined town Dhanushkodi. During floods of 1964 this whole town got destroyed. Now only remains ruins and few fishermen communities live there. White sand beaches and beautiful water of Bay of Bengal was something I never saw before.
It just took around 2-3 hours to see whole of town. Every house had colorful rangoli attracting the passer bys. I relished yummy south Indian Food: Hot idli in breakfast, South Indian Thaali in lunch and Crispy Dosai in Dinner with a few cups of filtered coffee throughout the day.
Then came the moment when Mahadeva finally called us to the temple. Following the ritual we bathed in Sea at Agneetirtham and from the water of 22 wells spread over the temple premises. I tried to remember the name of all 22 wells but failed. They say water from every well tastes different and have significance of its own. There were men who pull out buckets of water and pour on everyone. We walked around 1 to 1.5 km during this whole bathing thing going from well to well. Oh what a fun it was. Then after changing our robes we finally entered the main temple. Before seeing the Lord we saw huge statue of his beloved Nandi. Then we enter the main temple. What I loved that there was no light inside the main area where shivlinga was placed. It was illuminated by the light of earthen Deepak. That gives such a divine feeling to the onlooker. Ganga is dear to Lord Shiva, and we had the holy water of river Ganga that we got from Gangotri when we visited there in 2004. More than 10 years of storage and that water was clean and clear. Finally it reached its destination. With the chants of Har Har Mahadeva and Om namah Shivay we all got our own feel of Mahadeva depending upon how we wanted it to be.
There are grand statues of mythical characters and other Gods and Goddesses all around the temple. And south Indian temples are known for their grand architecture. It was a beautiful sight.
Next day early in the morning (around 4 am), we again headed out to the temple to get darshan of Crystal Shivlingam that in general language is mistaken as some Mani (some magical stone). As told by our Pandit ji, it was given by King of Nepal.
Temples in morning give a different feeling. Like everything is fine, cool, calm, May be because we ourselves are cool and calm. God manifests our own emotions because he resides in our heart.
Getting the darshan again before boarding the train back to Chennai, I gave a heartfelt adieu to my lord. I had uncontrollable tears in my eyes and the reason for which I am still searching. Neither did I spend that much time at that place to get emotionally attached nor was I meeting some close relative there. But still I had tears. The train crossed the same pamban Bridge, this time with a clear day view.
If we keep aside the stories and significance associated with place of pilgrim importance, these places are so well located around the country that I wonder may be main motive was to inspire people from all walks of life to travel and explore the wonders this nation has to offer.
So go out and explore.. Har Har Mahadeva 🙂