Saturday, April 23, 2016

Kothandaramaswamy Temple, Rameshwaram

Kothandaramaswamy Temple, Rameshwaram
The Kothandaramaswamy Temple at RameswaramTamil Nadu is a shrine dedicated to the Hindu deity Rama. Located at a distance of 13 kilometres (8.1 mi) from Rameswaram, it forms the southernmost tip of the island. The temple is the only historical structure to survive the 1964 cyclone that washed away Dhanushkodi. The temple has the deities of Rama, Lakshmana, SitaHanuman and Vibhishana.

The temple is surrounded by sea and remains a tourist attraction. It is easily accessible from Rameswaram. It is believed that Ravana’s brother Vibishana joined Lord Rama’s army at this place. This is the place where Vibishana was crowned the king of Lanka by Lord Sri Rama.

The walls of the temple have beautiful paintings inscribed on them, depicting the story of Ramayana. Kothandaramaswamy Temple has several images of Lord Rama, wife Sita, brother Lakshmana, Hanuman and Vibishana.

Athi Maram is one of the oldest trees located in the temple and there is a temple tank named after sage Bhringi. The temple Gopuram looks odd to many Shaivites as its structure is similar in shape to that of the Dakshinamoorthy Temple, a Vaishnavite temple tower. The place nearby this temple is called as Nandavanam or Nandambakkam, where Lord Rama lived for few days at sage Bhringhi’s ashram.

This temple is surrounded by the Bay of Bengal Ocean and lies at the southernmost tip of India. Tourists can take taxi from the city Centre to reach the Kothandaramaswamy Temple. It is preferable to visit the temple in the early morning, as over this, is the time when the temple gets crowded. Moreover, tourists can stay in the rooms available within the temple for pilgrims.

Kothandarama Swamy Temple is located 12 km away from Rameswaram. Here Lord Ramachandra arranged for the coronation of Vibishana as King of Lanka after his surrender. The walls of Kothandarama Swamy Temple are adorned with marvelous paintings that depict the story of Ramayana.

Historical Background
The temple is estimated to have been constructed about 500-1000 years ago. Rama, the main idol, is depicted as having a bow (Kothandam), and hence the name Kothandaramaswamy for the idol.

The temple is believed to be the place where Vibhishana, the younger brother of Ravana, asked Rama and his vanara (ape men) army for refuge. According to this tradition, after the abduction of Sita, Vibhishana advised Ravana to return her to Rama. However, Ravana did not listen to the advice, which led to Vibhishana fleeing from Lanka and joining Rama's army. When Vibhishana surrendered to Rama, the vanara army urged Rama not to accept Vibhishana believing him to be a spy.

However, Rama accepted Vibhishana under the insistence of Hanuman stating that it is his duty to protect the ones surrendered to him. It is also said that after the slaying of Ravana, Rama performed the "Pattabhishekam" (ascension to king of Lanka) for Vibhishana at this place. The story is depicted in painting across the walls inside the shrine.

Vibishana took all the efforts to persuade his brother Ravana to return Mother Sita to Rama whom he abducted in a cowardly way.  Not only Ravana disagreed with Vibeeshana’s advice but heavily came down on him to hit him with his legs. Leaving his incorrigible brother for good, and came to Rameswaram where Lord Rama was camping then and sought asylum.  As a tribute to his impeccable qualities, Lord Rama crowned him the king of Lanka even before Ravana was killed in the battle. Remembering this event, the temple is built in this island.

Location & Importance
Situated on an island that is surrounded by Bay of Bengal and Gulf of Mannar, the temple is located 13 kilometres (8.1 mi) from Rameswaram. When Dhanushkodi was severely affected by the 1964 Rameswaram cyclone, the temple was the only structure that survived. Swami Vivekananda is believed to have visited this place after his historic trip to Chicago.

The Temple
The temple is situated in an island surrounded by Bay of Bengal and Gulf of Mannar. Lord Sri Rama graces the devotees from the sanctum sanctorum with Mother Sita and Sri Lakshmana with his bow Kodanda.  As Lord appears with the bow, He is praised as Kodandaramar and the place Kodandam.

Sri Anjaneya is nearby praised as Anjaneya the Supporter.  When Vibishana came to Rama after breaking his relationship with his brother Ravana, the monkey army did not agree to accept Vibishana as they suspected his sincerity.  But Sri Anjaneya recommended Vibeeshana’s case explaining that he had personally observed his activities in Lanka and found him good in all aspects and that he deserved to be accepted by the Lord.  Hence, He is called Anjaneya the Supporter.  It is believed that he takes the just prayers of the devotees to Lord Rama and helps them achieving their desires.

Traditionally, we see Sri Anjaneya in a worshipping form near Lord.  In this temple, Vibishana is awarded with this right.  It is also noteworthy that Vibishana was offered the ‘Azhwar’ title as he was accepted by Lord.  In this small temple, Garuda Bhagwan and Acharya Sri Ramanuja have their shrines.  Those seeking leadership position through proper ways and to be away from the wicked pray here.  Lord helps them.  This is the philosophy behind the coronation of Vibishana.

Sethu Samudram Project Alignment
After Independence, six alignments were proposed for the implementation of the Sethu Samudram Shipping Canal Project. Incidentally, the fourth of the six proposed alignments was dropped because it proposed that a large area around the Rameswaram Island, including the temple, be demolished.

Temple Opening Time
The temple is open from 7.00 a.m. to 6.00 p.m.
Special pujas are performed on the last Purattasi Saturday in September-October. Vibishana Pattabishekam-coronation - is celebrated in the month of Aani-June-July.

It is suggested that those who want to be away from the wicked, desirous of following a righteous life and expecting promotions in job may pray to Lord in the temple. Devotees offer Tulsi garlands to Lord.

The Executive Officer,
Sri Kodandaramar Temple,
Rameswaram – 623 526,
Ramanathapuram district
Phone: +91-4573 - 221 223
Mobile: 97912 45363.
Kodandam is 12 km from Rameswaram on the Dhanushkodi route. Buses are available only at specific hours. The devotee would have to walk a kilometer to reach the temple. 
Nearest Railway Station is located at Rameswaram & Nearest Airport is located at Madurai.