Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Our Interesting Trip To Rameshwaram And Dhanushkodi - I


Ramanathaswamy Temple, Rameshwaram

We had been planning to visit Rameshwaram for a long time. We had been to this place, some 22 years back for doing kriyas for my father, when he expired.  It is said that if we do kriyas for our ancestors (pithru) here, their soul (atma) will reach the heaven without much difficulty.  Even if we do some mistakes while performing the kriyas here, since this is a holy place, it will not be considered as a mistake.  We call it vibrations now. Since so many people pray, not only in this place, but in all the major pilgrim centres, they become holy places with lot of good vibrations.  Pithru kriyas are performed mostly in 'Sangamam' places where two or three water bodies join together (sangamam means joining together).  E.g. Triveni Sangamam.  In the recent 'Kumbh Mela' held at Allahabad, people did kriyas on the banks of the river. Rameshwaram is situated on the Bay of Bengal sea shore.

9th Feb.'13 and 10th Feb.'13, were very important days for taking a dip in the sangamams.  Kumbh Mela is very famous and this year it was Maha Kumbh Mela which comes once in 12 years.  9th Feb. was New moon day of the Tamil month Thai (Thai amaavasai and Maagh Amaavasya in Hindi, I think) which is a  very auspicious day for Hindus.  People come from all over India, to take a dip at the Rameshwaram beach - Bay of Bengal if they don't go to the other sangamams. They do tharpana (offerings/a ritual for the ancestors) on the beach.

People come from everywhere to take a dip here on the New moon day of Tamil month Thai.

We were asked to do Thila Homa - a havan for our ancestors in this place and we planned to do it on 11th Feb. because we thought the place would be too crowded on 9th.  Some relatives asked us to go there on the 9th and take a dip in the sea because it is auspicious.  We always run away from crowds.  But when we reached the place on 10th, our priest (shastrigal) said that Amaavasya was there till 9 a.m.! So we went and had a dip in the sea.  The place was crowded and the water was dirty.  We were asked to go into the temple to have the '22 well bath ritual' (theertha snaan)! I couldn't think of standing in the long queue dripping with dirty water...we went on the next morning. Later in the day, we went to other temples which were in the Rameshwaram island.  I am not writing about the location or other details of this place.  The highlighted links of wikipedia explains them very well.  Let me write about the other temples later.  I will write what we did here, at Rameshwaram first.

My brother in law had arranged for a good priest from Chennai itself.  He asked us to take samudra snaan again, the next day morning and then we had the 22 holy well/theertha bath.  The sea water had cleared and we happily dipped in the water.  This side of the sea did not have much waves.  So we were not scared. The purohit had arranged for a person to guide us to the temple.  He came with us with a small bucket with a rope.  He stood on the wall of the well, dipped the bucket into the well and poured one bucket of water each, on our heads.  Then we went to the next theertha/well.  All the wells are situated inside the praahaara (compound) of the temple. We had to visit one by one. The link in the earlier paragraph explains about the links.  The water was slightly, very slightly, salty.  The temperature varied from well to well...taste also! The water in the wells was within 5-6 feet.  So it was easy for the guide to pull water from the well.  Only 17 wells were being used now.  They were changing the tiles in other wells.  We brought home 'kodi thertham', which will be added to our bath on 'Maasi magham', which is also is an auspicious day. It comes sometimes next week.

One of the 22 theerthams/holy wells, where we were asked to take bath.

Then we went to the house of the priest, where the Thila Homa was performed.  The link explains why it is done and how it is done!  My husband's elder brother had an unnatural death, some 30 years back. He was not married.  So we were asked to do this homa/havan.  A steel plate with a human impression was placed/stuck in a banana.  One more for my husband's younger brother who died at the age of 35, by brain hemorrhage, was placed in another banana.  Two more were placed for all the male and female ancestors of our family.  Ganapathy pooja was done first.  Then a havan was performed (30000 aavruththis with mantra).  Til/sesame seeds and paddy were used for this (they were thrown into the havan flames).  After this, pinda pradhana (Balls of cooked rice are offered to the ancestors) was done. Pinda pradhaana was for 3 generations of my husband and one for 'Ajnaatha pithru' i.e. for the ancestors unknown to us. The rice balls were kept on the terrace for the crows to eat. Hindus believe that the ancestors come and eat the rice in the form of crows.  Then, we were asked to keep the Steel plates (2 by 1" plates) with the impression of humans in the bananas in a brass plate.  A jeep was arranged for us to go to Dhanushkodi with the plate and a brass pot with water for which some pooja was performed before the havan.  I think I should have jotted down the names of the poojas. I will write about our Dhanushkodi trip in the next part.

The queue outside the Rameshwaram temple for taking the 22 well/theertha snaan. The crowd dispersed in the evening of 10th Feb.'13.  Amaavasya snaan was over!

Like most of the pilgrimage centres in India, this place also is not clean.  Hotels are OK.  We stayed at Hotel Saravana (it was clean and the service was good. Our priest had booked the rooms for us) from where I took the above picture.  We had our food at Krishna hotel which was just nearby.  The Rameshwaram railway station was stinking. Many people were sleeping on the platform with small kids. It was very difficult to walk on the platform.  Our priest told us that most of the pilgrims to Rameshwaram are North, North Indians means, people excluding, Kannada, Tamil, Malayalam and Telugu people! We saw some foreigners also dipping in the sea. Like other people, we too gave our wet clothes to poor people.  We saw many of them waiting with huge bundles of clothes in their hands at the entrance to the beach and entrance to the hotels! 

Now, to some pictures I took from our hotel window and terrace.  The Bay of Bengal  looks beautiful from here! I could see so many colourful fishing boats.

I didn't take the camera to the beach, where we took bath or inside the temple.  So, the first two pictures are from wikipedia and google. 

Let me write more about the Rameshwaram temple and Dhanushkodi, which I liked most, in the next part.

P.S. The priest had arranged the rooms for us.  A taxi came to pick us up from the Rameshwaram railway station.  Then he had arranged for the guide too.  The jeep which took us to Dhanushkodi also was arranged by him.  The havan was performed with 12 brahmins and it was done very well.  We had lunch at his house and he packed idlys for our dinner in the train also.  He patiently  explained about most of the matras/rituals.  So, it was not boring/mechanical work for us.

If anyone needs his contact no., here it is: Sundara Shastrigal, Cell no. 9443321641

Edited to add on 18th Aug.'15: Came across this post now, with beautiful photographs of Rameshwaram! Have a look!


L KRUPAA said...

Interesting write up Sandhya. Most rituals followed are losing their significance with time.

KParthasarathi said...

You two are blessed to visit the holy place on an auspicious time.The narration is comprehensive with all salient details.Was it tiresome to have the bath in 22 wells besides sea bath?Good you had a sincere sastrigal to guide you and perform the rituals.A very useful post foor those who intend to visit the place.

Sandhya said...

L.KRUPAA: The busting population also makes it difficult to do anything...travelling to holy places and getting good purohits also is difficult. Most of them are money minded but it is natural, I feel sometimes. Thank god, we had a sincere person to help us perform the rites.

K.PARTHASARATHY: Actually, we were compelled to have samudra snaan on the holy day! We always run away from crowds. We were destined to do it, I think, Partha Sir!

No, it was not that difficult. It was not cold also. We had to a pradakshina with wet clothes! And nothing happened to any of sister in law, her husband and the two of us...all were above 60! And we had just a cup of coffee in the morning. Had some oats kanji after the pinda pradhaan at 12.30 pm. Went to Dhanushkodi, did the rituals there and came back and had our pills and food at 3 pm. Nothing happened to any of us! We had samaaraadhane saappaadu at the Shastrigal's house. It was good.

R. Ramesh said...

nice post sandhyaji...engalukum serthu venditu vandingala? i am sure u did pray for all our blog friends too..wishes always:)

Krishna said...

nice visit....

i like to visit danuskodi... a narrow way from rameswaram...


rama said...

Good, detailed description for people who may want to know about these things. The pictures of the Bay of Bengal from the hotel has really come out well. It looks so beautiful.

Destination Infinity said...

That was a detailed write-up. I didn't expect to see so many boats in that area! The crowd seems to be huge!

My grand mother has visited this place and she told us about these pouring water from wells ritual.

These days when I go to temples, I take photos from outside but I don't go inside, much! I am more interested in temple architecture than rituals.

Destination Infinity

Sandhya said...

RAMESH: Thank you, Ramesh! I always add a line in my daily prayers also 'yellaarum nalla irukkanum' in my language, Tulu! Remember, I wrote a post 'In which language do you pray?'. Many people, including me, wrote that 99% of them pray in their own mother tongue, though English has creeped into our system. I think it must be in 'voh kaagaz ki kashti tag', Ramesh!

KRISHNA: Yes, I loved the trip to Dhanushkodi. I will write about it in the next part, Krishna.

RAMA: Whenever I was in the hotel, I used to come out and watch the sea. Then I went up to the terrace to get a good view. The parapet walls were very low over there and the breeze from the sea was so strong that I thought I would fall down and I was alone there!
Straight to heaven, it is a holy place, you know!

DESTINATION INFINITY: They must be fishing boats. It looked sea and the colourful boats. I have got a powerful SLR camera but I feel it is too huge. This scenery would have come better in that camera.

Most of our temples' interior also is very beautiful. No need to go near the garbha gruha...the praahaaram pillars are beautiful here too. Aayirangaal mandabam here is famous. First day, it was crowded and the next day we were in a hurry. I took one picture and a man came to shoo me away...we can take pictures of that area but we should have paid for it at the entrance and we forgot to do it. No temple allows to take a picture of the deity, though. It is correct, I feel.

Usha Pisharody said...

Very interesting to read. It brought back memories of our trip there, just over ten years ago.

Rahul Aggarwal said...

i was in chennai for 3 years and was not able to make it to Rameswaram during my stay :-(

i've been longing to go to this place from so many years .. not sure when will i visit.

Rachna said...

I have never undertaken pilgrimages, but I am always amazed by the accounts of those who do.

Sandhya said...

USHA PISHARODY: Thank you, Usha!

RAHUL AGGARWAL: This place is full of mythological history. If you are interested in mythology, this is the place to visit! Or if you admire the architecture or like to visit ancient temples, then you will enjoy!

RACHNA: We started visiting these types of places after we were 50! We must have been to Thirupati, a couple of times and for my sons' tonsure, to Trichy temples, until then! My place is Udupi and we used to visit the Krishna temple regularly when we went there for some function. Udupi also is a holy place!

manjujoglekar said...

What a great post, Sandhya! I have never been to Rameshwaram and I felt as if I was actually there while reading your post!

Lovely pics! :)

BK Chowla, said...

Very interesting and informative.
It's a pity,I have never gone any such pilgrimage

sm said...

beautiful photos

shooting star said...

we visited rameshwaram last year, taking my in laws on a pilgrimage cum south India tour....

I did not like the place particularly because of cleanliness issues....

my in laws though liked it for religious reasons...

nice informative post about rameshwaram

Varunavi said...

Very interesting written Sandhya..loved it..My mother would have loved to go to the temple.She has been visiting temples since last few years.Maybe someday i will take her to see Rameshwaram.

Sandhya said...

MANJU JOGLEKAR: Thank you, Manju! I didn't write much about the temple. It has got great history, which might take 2-3 posts!

BK CHOWLA: My sis in law and her husband goes to all the holy places and we join them for some! This, we had to do the Thila homam/havan and this is the best place to do so, we were told.

SM: Thank you, SM! I too loved the sea!

SHOOTING STAR: We should forget about cleanliness when we visit our holy places! Whichever temple I had visited until now, were dirty. Thirupati is maintained well for such huge crowds.

I hate crowds, but like the huge temples with great architecture. Our ancient temples are beautiful. We should go in Feb. March, when the crowds are a bit less. This time we went at the wrong time...well too many people, but eveybody said that we were lucky to have Thai Amaavasya dip! The sea was very dirty. The next day, it was crystal clear!

Will write about Dhanushkodi trip next. That was really nice.

VARUNAVI: This temple is very ancient with lot of history. This place/island has got many more temples...connected to Ramayana story. Your mother and you too will enjoy, Saritha!

P.N. Subramanian said...

Revisited Rameswaram through your wonderful commentary. Thanks.

Sandhya said...

PN SUBRAMANIAM: Thank you, Subramaniam Sir!

G Sivakumar said...

Thank you so much for posting your valuable thoughs with phone number of Sasthrigal and hotel name. We are planning to go in May to perform rituals for my late father in law. G

Sandhya said...

G.SIVAKUMAR: Welcome to my space, G.Sivakumar.

I am happy to know that the information is useful to you! Thank you!

Sai Charan said...

A very good account of your trip to the holy places!! :)

I often read your posts when you post them and then re-read them again when I visit your blog later on!! Feels good :)

And coming to the rituals and tharpanas for ancestors, I remember reading about their importance and meaning in the holy book Sri Garuda Purana.

You described your trip well, cheers!! :)

Sandhya said...

SAI CHARAN: Thank you, Sai!

trippinonlife said...

This is one place that I am planning to visit since a very long time! Nicely written!

Anonymous said...

Hello Sandhyaji,

i and my wife are going to rameshwaram from mumbai) for doing thila homam on the 13th and 14th may 2013.
i have booked a shastrigal in rameshwaram itself. do they charge as per no. of avritis? Also i am planning to get down in madurai and proceed by bus.the shastrigal has instructed me that he has booked a room at Bangur Yatri Nivas.I found Your detailed report! very interesting and informative.

Many Regards,


Sandhya said...

TRIPINONLIFE: Welcome to my space! Please visit, this is an interesting place! Thank you!

V.GANESH: Welcome to my space, Ganeshji!

I don't know how they calculate the charges. I think the avritis plus the no. of brahmins are taken into consideration. The person who did for us did very nicely.

If he said that he had booked a room for you, he must have done so. They work like professionals. So, you need not worry, I think.

Thank you!

Because you were 'anonymus' your comment went into spam. Please write your name.

V.Ganesh said...

Dear Sandhya (Mami),

firstly please call me Ganesh.
thank you for your prompt response! i would once again like to thank you for your detailed made very interesting reading. i will definitly come back to read your other posts. unfortunately our trip has been postponed due to want of a ticket! trying to go end of this month, provided i get tickets. Also you have mentioned the vadhyar's name who has done the homam for you.Were his services satisfactory for you? Many thanks for your reply.

P.S: by the way, i am also going to scared while taking a dip in the sea, while my wife is an expert swimmer!!

My namskarams,


Sandhya said...

V.GANESH: Yes, he was very good. My brother in law knows him, that might have been an advantage also. Tell him Mr.Sathyamurthy's name. He might not remember my name. You can tell him that you read about him in the blog post. He might remember that.

Good to know that your wife is a swimmer! I think you would enjoy Dhanushkodi. It is beautiful! Never expected it to be so beautiful! I skipped mentioning about the temples and wrote about the other interesting things in my post!

Appaludal Narasimha Krishnan said...

Hi Sandhya,
Very nice of you to share your views. Me and my family (wife & 4yr daughter) too visited Rameshwaram/Dhanushkodi in January 2012 (before pongal) and performed Thila Homam. Stayed there for 3/4 days. I reminisce my experience when I read your blog. Our guide Babu Sastrigal was affectionate and guided throughout the poojas and stay. We stayed in Raghavendra Guest house. No prayer/pooja or ritual is complete without saying 'Sarve jana Suhkino Bhavanthu...". Dhanushkodi gives me a soulful experience. Even now I choke with tears remembering the vibrations. Simply Great! Magical Experience!! Anbe Sivam. All thoughts come from that.

Ram K said...

Hello Sandhya aka Maradi Manni,

your post on tila homam was interesting. We plan to leave for Rameswaram today. Can you pl tell me the total duration of the homam. Any alternate phone number for Sundara vadhiyar ( whom I have contacted already). His phone is out of service.

Thanks for your response.


Sandhya said...


I can still remember how I felt when I was at Dhanushkodi beach, performing the rights. It is unforgettable. We stay here at walking distance from beach and so, sea is not new to us. But Dhanushkodi was different. Good to know that your felt like that too.

Anbe Sivam!

RAM K: The homam started at about 7 am. at the Shastrigal's house. By 12, the main homam was over. 12 people did it. We had some Oats kanji and then immediately left for Dhanushkodi by jeep. One shastrigal accompanied us and helped us do the pinda pradhaanam at the beach. We came back at 3...3.30 pm and had lunch at the Shastrigal's house.

I don't have any other number of the shastrigal, sorry.

All the best.

I think if you have any problem, you can ask for him at the hotel, we stayed. I think I have mentioned about it.

Mathy said...

Hi Sandhya,

we plan to visit Rameswaram in Dec for doing thila homam for my bro-in-law who died suddenly.
In general, is this homam done only in one of the priests house or they do in the temple also?
we plan to travle by train and reach there by 5.45 am. do we need to take bath in room and go to take sea snanam and other 22 well snanam? or just got directly.
For the priest you have mentioned how much overall charge he made for all the proceedings and guidance he done? this is to make our calculations roughly.
Thanks you so much.

Sandhya said...

MATHY: Welcome to my space, Mathy!

The priest did it at his house for us and it cost around Rs.22,000, I think. As I have written, 12 priests recited the manthras together. Less priests, less money, I think. I don't know.

I have heard that they do in Sankara madam and other madams too. They direct us what and when to take bath. We did everything after doing the homam. They booked the room in the hotel and arranged for the jeep to take us to Dhanushkodi. These are extra. 4 of us went there.

Mathy said...

Thanks Sandhya. Please can you give the name and mobile number of that priest if you could? Thanks

Mathy said...

Sorry I got his contacts from your blog. Thanks :)

Sandhya said...

MATHY: Welcome!

Shan Vel said...

Thanks and excellent write up.

Shan Vel said...

We would like to visit Rameswaram to conduct thilak homam. Kindly advice

Sandhya said...

SHAN VEL: Welcome to my space, Shan Vel and thanks for the comment.

You can see from the comments here that some people have gone to Rameshwaram after reading this post and conducted the Homam. I have given the phone no of the priest who did for us. He did very well, no complaints. You can contact him and ask for details!

Rajesh Sen said...

Undoubtedly a very nice blog on Rameshwaram Tour. For all the more information on Rameshwaram Tour, just click the following link:

Subha said...

Hi Sandhya Mam, Thanks for your detailed input.

Hi All,
We are asked to do Thilak pooja at Rameshwaram by an astrologer and we are planning to do it on 18 Jan 2015.

Does any one performed recently. Please advice the priest contact, price? Thanks in advance.

Sandhya said...

SUBHA: Thank you for visiting!

Last month my relative did it there. The phone no. is given in the post. My relative paid around 20 thousand for doing the whole thing mentioned in the post. It might vary a bit here and there, I think. We had food in their house itself. No. of persons also matters.

All the best.

Sumithra Krishnan said...

Hi Sandhya. I tried this number 9443321641 to contact sastrigal. But could not reached. Pl give me his number or any other contact details.

Sandhya said...

I called my relative now, who keeps contact with him. He is using this same number, he said. He tried now but he too was not able to reach now. He says that the Shastrigal might be outside or something. Please try giving some gap and they dial. If I know about his alternative number, I will post it here, at the end of the post, right, Sumithra?

Rameswaram Hotels said...

There are very Nice Article. If you are Going to Rameshwaram you must Visit Below Places, There are also very Amazing.
1. Ramanathaswamy Temple
2. Jada Tirtham
3. Dhanushkodi Temple
4. Gandhamadhana Parvatham
5. Five Faced Hanuman Temple
6. Adam’s Bridge
7. Nambu Nayagiamman Temple
8. Water Bird Sanctuary
9. Ariyaman Beach
10.Kothandaramaswamy Temple
12.Annai Indira Gandhi Road Bridge
13. Lakshmana Tirtham
14. Villoondi Tirtham
15. Jatayu Tirtham Temple
16. Thiruppullani

dimpy roy said...

One of the destinations in the Hindu Char Dham Yatra, Rameswaram (Rameshwaram) is a peninsula with a charm that heals all kinds of tension, and also fulfills religious pursuits. Check out all best hotels in Rameswaram also.

TipToesWorld said...

Great post and detailed information. I will definitely keep these in mind when planning my trip to Rameshwaram.

Abhilasha Kukreti said...

interesting journey you had. i have visited rameshwaram once and loved it. i explored best places to visit in rameshwaram which left me spellbound.

Khushi R said...

Thanks for sharing about your trip to Rameshwaram. Enjoyed reading your post. With the mention of various places to visit in Rameshwaram, I would like to say Rameshwaram is a beautiful city with fabulous temples, architecture and a great place to spend vacation.

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