Day 2 started early, ast about 7.30am. We got the same mini-bus we’d used the previous day. We expected the bus to change at a later point, probably outsidethe city. But since that didnt happen we figured thats the way it would be. Also we saw a lot of similar buses plying between Madurai & Rameswaram.
We stopped at around 10.30 for breakfast at small road-side restaurant named Hotel Anantha Bhavan. I spent the better half of my break-time watching the cook made some amazingly delicate parottas. There were mini in size, but tasted just yum! 🙂 Since we were on the way to a mjor temple, we normally fast. But then i was too hungry to fast that day, so i had break-fast. 🙂 Hubby just had coffee though.
We set off for Rameswaram after 10 more mins. The rest of the journey was a changing vista that had water and land interspersed. As we were close to the coast, the water line is high. That basically meant that most of the land was marshy, and the houses were located between small ponds.
We reached Rameswaram by 12.30. It was a straight drive till the temple.
The story of the Jyotirlinga at Rameswaram is connected with the Ramayana. The story goes that Rama built the Sethu (bridge) to Lanka from this beach. On returning, he wanted to worship Siva, and ask for forgiveness for the bramanahatya (killing of a brahmin) of Ravana, who was a Brahmin by birth and also a dedicated devotee of Siva. Hanuman was given the task of bringing a linga from Varanasi (Kasi Viswanath). However, he was getting late for the pre-determined auspicious time. So Sita made a lingam from sand, and Rama was able to perform the puja at the given time. However, when Hanuman returned, he was disappointed to learn that Rama had already finished the puja. So Rama pacified Hanuman and installed the Lingam and called it the Kasi Viswanath Lingam, and decreed that it should be worshipped before the lingam Sita made.
There we spent a few minutes at the bus while the driver spoke to the various “agents” who gathered around. They had a rather straight-forward deal. Pay them a certain amount to the tour of the 22 sacred well, as well as get us special darshan.After we paid the amount, we were directed inside the temple by the ‘co-ordinator’. The men were asked if they wanted to change clothes. Hubby opted to change into the traditional dhoti/pancha.
The guy took us first to the 22 wells compound. The holy wells at Rameswaram denote the 22 holy rivers in India. It is said that the wells were made by Rama, and are the number of arrows in his quiver. These wells do not dry up, and water from each well has a disctintive flavour. The water in these wells never dry up, whatever the season, and are said to be fed from the holy rivers directly.
I opted to have my head sprinkled with the waters, since I was carrying the tavel bags. However, by the time i got ‘sprinkled’ by all 21 wells, I was drenched anyway. 🙂 I say 21 wells, as the last one is water from the Ganga. Here we have to take teertham from the priest at the well, and not get soaked in it.
The whole process took about 25 minutes, and then we were ushered into the temple. Since it was special darshan, we did not join the main lines. Instead we were sent in through the exit gate and were able to take darshan from near the Lingam. It was quite a nice experience, if you ignored the crowds behind you.
Once we came out, we were handed the prasadam bags, and shown the exit route. there is also a spatik lingam here. But the guy who gave us directions, sent us outside the complex rather than give us proper directions. So that was left out. Hubby changed back into regular clothes, and we stepped out of the temple.
The whole darshan process took about 30 mintues (though it felt longer). We were all directed to our bus, and we set off for lunch. The driver stopped outside a small restaurant that served thalis, and told us all to have lunch there. We (again) decided to check out other options, and went ahead. We found a nice place where they served curd-rice, which was a great option when travelling.
We quickly finished lunch, and got back to the bus. As we got back, 2 ladies from another family in the bus we just getting off after changing clothes. I thought this was a great idea, as the place where we had lunch didnt have a bathroom where I could change. So with a bit of a contortionists’ skill and hubby standing guard at the door, I managed to change into dry clothes. 🙂
By around 3.15 we set off for Kanyakumari. On the way out, we stopped at a small temple on the roadside. The temple is run by a family of priests, whose main income was donations from the visiting public. The temple was dedicated to Lord Hanuman. In a nearby pot were large “floating stones”. These are supposedly the same stones that Rama used to build the Ram Sethu connecting to Lanka. We purchased a piece of the stone. It is said to have medicinal qualities. For now it simply lies in the temple at home.
The next stop was the Pamban Bridge. This refers to the cantilever railway bridge connected the Pamban Island/Rameswaram to mainland India. The spot on the bridge is a nice place to get some excellent views of the ocean, and of Rameswaram.
From here we finally for Kanyakumari.
We stopped on the the way to Kanyakumari at around 5.40pm for tea at a place called Sri Annapoorna Hotel. We were quite happy to get out of the bus. The bus had seemed ok in the morning half of the day, was now taking its toll. The limited leg-space in the bus meant that we could relax at all. Also the handle on the outside seat was missing, so the person sitting there (mostly, hubby) couldn’t relax at all for fear of falling off.
When the driver wouldn’t start the bus again even by 6.15pm, we got a bit worried. On finally asking him, we found out there there was not hotel booking done for us. All hotels at Kanyakumari were full for the Christmas weekend. Finally the driver told us that some arrangements had been made, and we set off again.
We stopped at about 9.30pm for dinner at a some hotel called Sri Saravanass Restaurant (with the double ‘ss’). We finally got to a small hotel at about 11pm. They definitely didn’t seem as though they were expecting us. Anyways, rooms were opened up, and we finally settled down for the day.