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Home :: South India Temples :: Rameshwaram Temple


Rameshwaram Temple


Location : Island Of Rameshwaram, Tamil Nadu
Deity Worshipped : Linga Of Sri Ranganatha
Famous : A Pilgrimage To Kashi Is Not Considered Complete Without A Pilgrimage To Rameshwaram
Significance : One Of The 12 Jyotirlingas Of India


Rameshwaram TempleRameshwaram is an island situated on the tip of the Indian peninsula. Rameshwaram is significant for the Hindus. It is an important south India pilgrimage centre of nationwide importance for the Indians. Both the Vaishnavites and Shaivites visit this pilgrimage, as it is the place from where Lord Rama had built a bridge across the sea to rescue his consort Sita. This is the place where Rama worshipped Lord Shiva to cleanse away the sin of Ravana on his way back from Sri Lanka. The entire area of Rameshwaram is associated with various incidents from the Ramayana.

In order to attain Moksha it is believed that a visit to Rameshwaram is mandatory. Rameshwaram is popularly referred as the 'Benaras of the south'. Rameshwaram happens to be one of the most visited pilgrim sites in India. The presiding deity is the Linga of Sri Ranganatha, which constitutes one of the 12 Jyotirlingas of India.

The places of interest include the 17th Century Ramanathaswamy Temple is particularly famous for 1200 gigantic granite columns; the Agnitheertham, where Rama worshipped Lord Shiva; Dhanushkodi.
Rameshwaram Temple
How to Get There
Air : The nearest airport is at Madurai, at a distance of 154-km.
Rail : Rameshwaram is well connected by trains from all the major cities of India.
Road : State transport buses are available from the railway station to the various places in and around Rameshwaram. For local transportation taxis, auto-rickshaws, cycle-rickshaws and tongas are available. Also city bus service is available in the island.


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Sabarimala Temple


Location : Western Ghats, Kerala
Dedicated To :
Lord Ayyappa
Altitude :
914 m Above Sea Level
Main Festival :
Sabarimala Temple Festival


Sabarimala TempleThe holy shrine of Sabarimala is dedicated to Lord Ayyappa. Sabarimala is one of the most important Hindu temples of Kerala. The renowned south India pilgrimage center of Sabarimala is situated 914 m above sea level atop the rugged hills of the Western Ghats. The place is amidst the virgin forest wilderness of the Western Ghats. The temple dome is covered with gold and the devotees break the coconuts before climbing the steps. Shabari is said to have done severe penance in order to meet Rama, who granted her wish for her devotion and faith during her penance. The village Sabarimala is named after her.

The Sabarimala Temple festival is celebrated in honor of Lord Ayyappa. The pilgrims regardless of caste, creed, color, wear black dhotis and carry the traditional offering of coconut, rice, etc. on their heads. Only young girls who have not attained puberty and old women who have reached menopause are allowed to worship at this time. The distance from the base of the hill to the top takes about three days to cover and the most important part of the pilgrimage are the final 18 steps, which lead to the temple.

Two main pujas called the Mandal Puja and the Makara Sankranti Puja, which are celebrated during which time the devotees perform austerities and penance. The men must vow to walk bare foot, wearing dhotis, not cut their nails and hair, remain bare-chested, sleep on the floor and practise absolute abstinence during the period of their penance and pilgrimage to Sabarimala.


How to Get There
Transportation is available upto Pamba, from where one has to travel a distance of 5 kms on foot. Devotees undertake rigorous penance, ritualistic vows and fasts before they visit the temple.

Sabarimala Temple FestivalThe Main Festival
Sabarimala is one of the most important Hindu temples of Kerala. The Sabarimala Temple festival is celebrated in honour of Lord Ayyapan who is revered by all in India. There are two main pujas called the Mandal Puja and the Makara Sankranti Puja, which are celebrated from November to Middle of January in Kerala, during which time the devotees perform austerities and penance.

The Penance
Devotees undergo rigorous penance and austere living before starting on the pilgrimage. Devotees wear black 'dhotis' and are bare-chested as they prepare for the pilgrimage to Sabarimala. The temple is at the top of the Neeli hills and the devotees have to climb the treacherous route carrying their meagre provision in a bundle called "Iru Mudi" meaning in "two folds". The distance from the base of the hill to the top takes about three days to cover and the most important part of the pilgrimage are the final 18 steps, which lead to the temple. The temple dome is covered with gold and the devotees break the coconuts before climbing the steps.

An Unmatched Instance of Religious Tolerance
Opposite the main temple complex, there is a smaller temple for the Muslim god called Wavar, who is an ally of Lord Ayyapa. Signifying religious tolerance and harmony of the olden days, the devotees pay obeisance to Lord Wavar, on their way to the main temple. After the devotees complete their pujas and offerings, they return to the base of the hill and return to their homes.

Sabarimala Temple Travel GuideThe people making the pilgrimage for the first time are known as "Kanni Swamys" and the person leading the group is known as 'Guru Swamy' or the lead person of a team who is incharge of all the rituals. Devotees take a ritual bath, while climbing up the hill in the holy river Pamba, which is believed to absolve one's sins.

Restricted Entry At The Festival Time
Only young girls who have not attained womanhood and old women who have reached menopause are allowed to worship at this time. The men must vow to walk bare foot, not cut their nails and hair, sleep on the floor and practise absolute abstinence during the period of their penance.


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Somnathpur Temple


Location : South West Of Bangalore, Karnataka
Consecrated In : 1268 A.D
Built By : Somnath
Dedicated To : Lord Keshava


Somnathpur Temple"Nowhere else in India there is such a profusion of monuments as in Karnataka. It is no wonder Karnataka has been called the cradle of stone architecture. These peerless wonders are eloquent reminders of a fertile heritage. "There is a stillness and everlastingness about the past, it changes not and has a touch of eternity," wrote Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru in his "Discovery of India." These words somehow hold true when one arrives at Somnathpur, a tiny village on the banks of the Kaveri, 140 kms south-west of Bangalore.

Somnathpur, where the Keshava temple is situated, is a somnolent village 45 kilometers from Mysore, and is one of the most famous Hoysala temples in Karnataka; the two others at Belur an Halebid being equally famous. Like a milestone to eternity, there stands one of the last and the grandest of Hoysala monuments - the Keshava Temple built 740 years ago. By the year 1268 A.D., the year in which the Keshava temple at Somnathpur was built, the Hoysala rule had completed 260 years. In the dust and turmoil of history, India was witnessing the Golden Age of the mighty Cholas, Pandyas and the Hoysalas. The riches and splendour of the Hoysala court were already evident in their grand temples at Belur and Dvarasamudra (present day, Halebid).

The last named dynasty which ruled Karnataka for nearly 350 years, was founded in 1006 A.D., soon after the collapse of the Ganga Dynasty. An inscribed stone slab, in old Kannada, at the entrance of the Somnathpur temple amply explains its history. The reigning monarch was Narasimha III (1254-91 A.D.) whose full regal title runs into a sizeable paragraph: "Sri Vishnuvaradhana, Sri Vira Narasimha, Maharajadhiraja, Raja Paramesvara, Sanivarasiddhi, Pratapa Chakravarti, Hoysala Bhujabala, Giridurgamalla etc.

For the inscription on the stone slab, it becomes fairly evident that the magnificent temple was completed and consecrated in 1268 A.D. Interestingly, the earliest Hoysala monarchs were Jains. It was the great Vishnuvaradhana (1108-42) who embraced Vaishnavism under the influence of the celebrated Vaishnava reformer Ramanuja. Later Hoysala rulers even became Shaivites. But general tolerance of all faiths was typical of their rule.

The Temple
In actual fact, the temple was not built by the king but by his celebrated army commander, Somnath. He had, some years ago, founded a village on the left bank of the Kaveri River, which he named after himself as Somnathpur. Somnath sought to immortalise himself by petitioning the king to grant him the permission and resources for his project of setting up a grand temple to glorify Hoysala craftsmanship. The king not only bestowed Somnath with his largesse, but after completion also sanctioned an annual grant of 3,000 gold coins for the temple's upkeep and maintenance. All these facts are duly mentioned on the slab and appear as though to Somnathpur Templehave happened yesterday!

The best sculptors in the realm were commissioned to accomplish the task of building the temple. There came sculptors whose wizardry with the hammer and chisel was almost legendary. Among them was the famous Mallitamma. Of the 194 carved images on the outer walls, Mallitamma's contribution was forty. We know this because all the sculptors have signed their works - a practice unusual for its times, but also evident in Hoysala temples at Belur and Halebid. Then there were sculptors: Ballayya, Chaudayya, Bharmayya, Kamayya and the Nanjayya.

Not as famous as Belur and Halebid, the Hoysala temple at Somnathpur, however, is truly unique in design, perfect in symmetry and the stone carvings are remarkable marvels in stone. The Hoysala Dynasty finally came to an end around 1346 A.D. when the Vijayanagar Empire rose to power. Today Somnathpur is like any other Lackadaisical Indian village surrounded by farms of millet and sugarcane.

The shrine stands in the middle of a walled compound, around which runs an open verandah with 64 cells. The temple itself, stellar in shape, has three profusely carved pinnacles with a common Navranga and stands on a raised platform. The three sanctums once housed beautifully carved idols of Kesava, Janardhana and Venugopala. Today the idol of Lord Kesava is missing, but the other two still adorn the sanctums in their original form.


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South India Temples
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«» Mahabalipuram Temple «» Meenakshi Temple «» Murugan Temple
«» Rameshwaram Temple «» Sabarimala Temple «» Somnathpur Temple
«» Thousand Pillar Temple «» Tirupati Tirumala Balaji

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