Ramanathaswamy temple, Rameswaram is one of the 12 jyotirlingas in India.
Rameswaram Temple is not only a holy place for Shaivites(devotees of Shiva)but also for Vaishnavites and smarthas. It is the place where the popular Appar, Sundarar and Tirugnana sambandar sang hymns in the praise of God.
The legend about this temple goes like this;
Rama, the seventh incarnation of Vishnu defeats the demon king Ravan. According to Vedas, killing a Brahmin is a great sin and since Ravan is a Brahmin, Rama prays Lord Shiva to wash away his sin. Rama wants to install a huge Shivling to pray an orders Hanuman, the commander of the army to bring the Shivling from The Himalayas. Since Hanuman delays in bringing the Shivling, Sita Devi, the wife of Rama makes a shivling of sand with her own hands. Rama orders that the shivling brought by Hanuman will be worshipped first and the tradition continues till today. It is said that, after praying this shivling, Rama is free from the sin he made during the war. Devotees believe that visiting this temple would set them free from all the sins.
The temple is also one of the chardhams, which are considered holy by Hindus. The current structure of the temple is a result of contributions of various kings, who ruled in the period between 11th to 17th centuries.
The corridors of this temple are the largest in the world. It is interesting to know that the priests of this temple are not locals. The priests are Maharashtrians who take Deeksha from Sringeri Mutt.
A huge number of devotees visit this temple, especially on special occasions like Mondays, Shivaratri and other festivals. However, lack of priests has been a matter of concern for quite some time now and only five out of 13 shrines have priests. Let`s hope that this shall not be a problem this Shivratri season. Om Namah Shivayah.