The sacred island of Rameshwaram is less than 20km from Sri Lanka across the Gulf of Mannar, almost nearing the Southern tip of peninsular India. Along with Madurai, Rameshwaram is South India’s most important pilgrimage site.
If you are familiar with the great Indian epic, Ramayana, this is the site from where the monkey army began to build the Ram Setu to reach Ravana’s Lanka, an issue of much controversy today. You can treat this stone peppered stretch of sea between Dhanushkodi (Rama’s Bow) and Sri Lanka as a natural formation, if you are a rationalist. But to the devout Hindu pilgrim the bridge is absolute truth and not just lore and legend.
The Ramanathaswamy Temple complex, with its magnificent pillared walkways, is the most revered temples in India. According to folklore, Lord Rama came to worship Lord Shiva in the temple, and hence the name Ramanathaswamy temple. There are several other small temples of interest, such as the Gandhamadana Parvatam, the highest point on the island, offering splendid views and sheltering Rama’s footprints, and the Nambunayagi Amman Kali Temple, frequented for its curative properties.
If you aren’t a pilgrim, it is Dhanushkodi, the eastern most point of the island and just 30km away from Sri Lanka that will quench your thirst for the pristine beauty of nature and beaches to unwind.