Visit to Rameswaram – Part 1 of 3
(Devipatnam Nava Bhashanam, Uthrakosamangai and Sethukarai)
During the last week of May 2011, around 40 of our relatives had been to Rameswaram to conduct the Thila Tharpana homam from my in-laws’ side. Thila tharpana homam is mainly to let free the wandering souls in harmony that encountered unnatural deaths like accidents, suicides etc., It was a 2 day feat at Rameswaram at the cost of around 70,000 /=. We all assembled at Trichy by 6 AM, engaged a bus and visited Kumara Vayalur Murugan temple, Uyyakondan Thirumalai Shiva temple (both at the outskirts of Trichy), Thirumayam Perumal and Shiva rock cut temples (between Pudukkottai and Karaikudi), Pillayarpatti Karpaga Vinayagar temple (near Karaikkudi), took lunch at Devakkottai, visted Devipatnam Nava bashanam, Thiruppulani Vishnu temple (both near Ramnad) and reached Rameswaram by about 8 PM. The next day was the homam, visit to the temple and holy bath at the 22 theerthams. Some of us not directly involved with the homam returned that day while others stayed back to complete the poojas at Dhanushkodi and retuned the next day. It was a very hectic 2 day trip during the crowded summer season and we couldn’t visit Dhanushkodi and many of the other temples in and around Rameswaram. Since then I wanted to have another calm and peaceful visit to Rameswaram.
Then came my star birthday recently and just about 4-5 days prior we decided to do an ‘’Ekadasa Rudhra parayanam’’ at Rameswaram. Luckily, train tickets were available in RAC and immediately booked and arranged for the pooja. Since the children were engaged with the studies and office, only me and my wife took up the trip. We landed at Rameswaram by train at 4:15 AM, 30 minutes earlier than schedule. The pooja was scheduled at 3 PM in the evening since my birth star was coming only after 10 AM and so we engaged a car and started by about 6:30 AM to have a trip around Ramnad.
Rameswaram is an island and is connected to the main land only by the Pamban rail and road bridges. The far end of Rameswaram island is Dhanushkodi. So, to go out of Rameswaram, one has to pass through the Pamban bridge. It was India’s longest sea bridge for 96 years till 2008. The train bridge opens up in the middle when ships pass underneath. Interestingly, just a few hours before we started off for Rameswaram, we saw a news clip saying that the Pamban bridge was not repaired for the past 50 years and is in danger of collapse. They showed the cracks in the bridge!
Night view from the train
Devipatnam Nava bashanam
First, we went to Devipatnam Nava bashanam, around 80 kms fom Rameswarma and 15 kms from Ramnad (you can directly go to Devippattnam from Rameswaram without touching Ramnad). The road was good and it took us a little more than an hour. It is a place where there are 9 Navagraha stones in the sea at about 100 meters from the shore and it is considered that Sri Ramar conducted Navagraha poojas here. In the evenings the sea water level is high and so most of the Navagrahas are below the water whereas in the mornings the sea water level is low and most of them are above the water level. Just opposite the Nava bashanam there is a Perumal temple and we met Sri Jagannatha Iyengar, an elderly person who conducted the sankalpam at the temple and also sent a person to accompany us to the Nava bashanam. There, the poojas were conducted for all the Navagrahas. Two of the Navagrahas were beneath the water level at that time. Altogether it took us about an hour there.
Sadly the place is one of the ugliest, as is the case with many Navagraha parihara sthalams and the sea water is black in colour with the dirty remains of cloths and articles people leave as a pariharam. I myself was in doubt whether I washed off my sin there or collected from the remains of what people left out there! - Sorry, I am unable to stop thinking that way – it was so dirty!
Uthrakosamangai Shiva Temple
We then had our breakfast at Ramnad (14 kms from Devipattnam) and proceeded to Uthrakosamangai Shiva temple (17 kms from Ramnad). It was a very grand temple and took us more than an hour. The specialties of the temple being a Maragatha Natarajar in Sandal cover throughout the year, 3000 years old Sthala vruksham, Siddhar Kagabujander’s jeeva Samadhi under the Sthala vruksham and Manickavasagar’s close association. It requires a separate blog article and will do it soon.
Then we came to Thiruppulani, a Divya desam, around 10 kms from Uthrakosamangai. The road was being laid and so we had a very slow and bumby journey. We had already visited this temple during our earlier visit and so proceeded to Sethukkarai, about 4 kms from there.
Sethu Karai or Aadhi Sethu is a pilgrim center and the primary sacred bathing spot in which Sri Ramar is said to have bathed and started the Floating Stone Bridge “Rama sethu” that further continued to Dhanushkodi in Rameswaram till Talaimannar in Sri Lanka. Nowadays, Kanyakumari is the southern tip of India but our earliest scriptures define Sethu as the Southern tip of Bharath from the saying “Aasethu Himachalam”. Again the Upanishads describes Sethu as Amrutha saisya Sethu: and the Vishnu sagasranamam calls it as Ousstham jaghatha: Sethu:, . There is a small single shrine Anjaneyar temple and the sea shore was deserted when we went there.
Then we came back to Thiruppulani by about 12:30 but by that time all the shrines were closed though the temple was kept open. Had we visited Thiruppulani first and then Sethukkarai, possibly we could have covered both. We then returned back to Rameswaram and got ready for the poojas. The trip costed us Rs.2000 in a Tata Indica.