Connected with all important towns of Tamil Nadu, City Buses are available including night services. Point to Point services, Tourist taxi, auto / cycle rickshaws and horse carts are also available.The taxi charges for a small car (Indica) is around Rupees 5 per KM. It costs around Rupees 1800 for return trip from Madurai to Rameswaram. Andhra Pradesh State Road Transport corporation ( APSRTC ) operates Rameswaram – Tirupathi daily service.
It is very important for you to know the correct procedure to offer Pooja at the main temple. Temple management allows only Hindus to perform this pooja. It is best to hire a guide a day in advance, generally around Rs 400-500 for everything. Pooja at the main temple is a 4 step process:
Mani Darshanam - You should watch the Sphatic (Emerald) mani first thing in the morning at main temple. Darshan timings are 4:00 - 5:00 a.m. You should not take a bath before. There is a special entrance for Rs 50- but it's better to stand in the general queue for Rs 10 which, counter-intuitively, moves faster.
Samudra Snanam - Next, you should walk down to Samudram(Sea) for Snanam (bathing). The sea, 500m away from the temple, is very peaceful and shallow here without any tides at all. Mythology says that Samudram surrendered to Lord Rama during his attack on Lanka and since then it is calm.
Teerth Snanam - Proceed to the temple for Teerth snanam (Holy bath). The temple has 22 wells that are said to contain holy water from different places. You need to sequentially take bath at each place. The markings are good and you can easily make out the next well.The government rate for this is Rs 25 per person. Attendants are there at each well and they will pour water on you. They splash a bucket of water on a group of pilgrims. You may need to go in queue. You can also hire attendants out side the temple for this process. But they will charge 150 rs per person. Plenty of these attendants can be found at the temple entrances with a bucket and rope in hand. If you feel like getting drenched with one full bucket of water at each well, you need to hire an attendant; otherwise, this is not required.
Main Pooja - Now you can change your clothes and dry yourself. There are different prices for different kinds of pooja. The basic one starts at Rs 111. Your guide will arrange for the Pujari (priest), who will do some rituals. Then he will offer milk, grass, leaves, etc. to Lord Shiva on your behalf in main temple. You can view all this sitting in front at a price of Rs 500. Afterwards, he will tell you the story of Rameswaram. He will also ask you to recite some shlokas after him. Pujari charges around Rs 500-600 for his services.
You can also enjoy sumptuous prasadam at 12 noon. It is offered near inner door of Lord Shiva temple.
Sri Ramanathaswamy Temple - this temple situated near the sea on the eastern side of the island is renowned for its magnificent prakaras or corridors with massive sculptured pillars on either side. The longest corridor in the world is here and it is 197 metres long from East to West and is 133 metres wide from South-North. The temple has a Gopuram 38.4 metres tall. Different rulers built the temple as it stands today, at different periods from the 12th century A.D. Pooja is performed for an hour early morning daily to the Spadikalingam that was given by the Shankaracharya to this temple. There is a popular belief that one needs to take bath in 22 theertha kundams with in the temple premises before having darshan. There many guides who will approach us as soon as we enter the temple premises. One needs to negotiate the deal of how much to pay them if we need their services. It is believed that the water from these kundams have some medicinal properties. The history of the temple is linked with "Ramayan" and it is believed the the diety was installed by Lord Rama after the war with Ravana at the instance of the great saints to get rid of the "Brahma Dosham".
Agnitheertham - Sri Ramanathaswamy temple faces east. The seashore, about 100 metres from the main entrance of the temple, is very calm and therefore ideal for bathing. The water at this place is considered sacred and known as Agni theertham. Pilgrims perform poojas in honour of their ancestors at this seashore.
Gandamadana Parvatham - is a hillock situated 3 km away and is the highest point in the island. Here one can see the imprint of Lord Rama’s feet on a chakra. The entire island of Rameswaram is visible from this point.
Sugreevar Temple/Theertham - is situated on the way to Gandamadana Parvatham near the Doordarshan Kendra.
Satchi Hanuman Temple - is considered to be the place where Hanuman delivered the good news of finding Sita to Rama with satchi or evidence, Choodamani or the jewel that belonged to Sita. Situated 3 km from the main temple, on the way to the Gandamadana Parvatham.
Badrakaliamman Temple - is a temple for Devi Durga, situated 2 km from the main temple on the way to the Gandamadana Parvatham.
The Five-faced Hanuman Temple (2 km from the main temple) - the deity of Hanuman drawn withsenthooram. Idols of Lord Ram, Sita and Hanuman brought from Dhanushkodi during the 1964 cyclone were placed here. The floating stone, used to build theSethuBandanamor the bridge between India and Lanka can be found in this temple.
JadaTheertham (about 3.5 km from Rameswaram on the Dhanushkodi road) - legend has it that Lord Rama, on his way back after killing Ravana, Worshipped SriRamalinga (believed to be installed by him). Before doing so, he washed his hair(Jada) in this theertham to purify himself.
Nambu Nayagiamman Temple - is greatly venerated by the people of Ramnad District. It is situated 8 km from the main temple in Rameswaram on the way to Dhanushkodi.
Kothandaramaswamy Temple - is located 12 km away from Rameswaram. A popular belief is that Vibishana, brother of Ravana, surrendered before Rama here.
Dhanushkodi (18 km) - the southern tip of the island, Dhanushkodi was completely washed away by the 1964 cyclone. This is a strip of land about one km wide and 18 km long on the eastern end of Rameswaram island. On one side are the waters of the Indian Ocean and on the other the waters of the Bay of Bengal. The two seas otherwise known as Ratnakaran and Mahodadhi with their confluence is shaped like a bow while the strip of land resemble an arrow poised for release. Devout Hindus consider the Adi Sethu or the arrowhead, a sacred place to perform religious rites. It is also place worth visiting for its scenic beauty and bird life.
Villoondi Theertham - is situated 7 km from the main temple on the way to Pamban.
Annai Indira Gandhi Road Bridge (12 km) - is also known as the Pamban Bridge that connects the Rameswaram island with the main land. It is the longest sea bridge in India and its length is nearly 2.2 km and stands as a fine example for Indian architecture. The bridge was constructed with sufficient elevation. The islands near by and parallel rail bridge below can be viewed from this bridge.
Glass boat ride at Pamban Bridge: [Update(April 2012): There is only one glass boat at the govt. boating center on the other end of the bridge now. That boat too is not in order, as water has entered between the two layers of glass through which you are supposed to see the corals. The boatman will tell you that the glass is not in order only when you reach the point where you are supposed to see the corals. The water is shallow there, but you won't be able to see the corals with the glass in that condition. As such, it is an utter waste of money till the govt. officials fix the boat. Even if you go there with the hope that the boat would be repaired, before boarding that single boat check the glass and ask the boatman if it is in proper condition].
One can enjoy the wonderful glass boar ride near pambanbridge to see coral reefs in the Sea. Boat has a glass bottom which enables you to see corals through it. To reach this place, you need to catch local bus from Rameswaram bus stand to Pamban bridge. From there you have to take an auto to boat center (Rs 40 - 50)(minimum 400 per boat of 8 persons), it is almost halfway on the bridge. Boat is run by Government officials and you don't have to bargain. They provide good service and don't even expect a tip from tourists. If you want to have a good view, be there between 12 noon - 1 pm on a good sunny day. Always carry an umbrella with you and watch the coral reef in umbrella shade, otherwise you'll see your own reflection on the glass instead of corals(imp: try to go for glass boat ride with a group because some days there might be no tourists there and you might end up paying more as there is no one to share glass boat ride with you) :)
Visit Dhanushgodi: Apart from the temple this certainly is one of the best things to see and do in Rameshwaram. There are two ways of getting to Dhanushgodi , hire a jeep (Rs 1,100 is the going rate) or hire an auto or by bus till the Mini truck stand from where you could travel by the Mini Truck (Rs 60 per passenger) just like the locals do. The lands end of Dhanushgodi is about 3 -4 kilometers from where the Mini Truck stand and is amazing experience.Its peferable to take Jeep if you can share it with others because the mini truck operators usually have a tendency to fool tourists by bringing them back from half the journey and not taking them to the ending point of Dhanushgodi. Do not venture by your own car as only jeeps and 4 WD vehicles can negotiate thru the slush and sand road till lands end , though its possible to reach there by bike , but you need to be ready to push and struggle in case you get struck. The view is amazing with sea on both sides , on one side the Bay of Bengal and on the other the Indian Ocean , the Bay of Bengal side is relatively calm and hence goes by the name (Penn Kadal , Lady Sea) and the India Ocean is rough with waves lashing and is called ( Aaan Kadal, Male Sea). The travel by Mini truck is an experience in itself and you have the option of either sitting inside , hanging outside or travelling on top of the minitruck , its best to sit on the top which gives you amazing views. The mini truck will take you to lands end , give a break of about 15 mins to play in the sea or do religious ceremonies , and the take you to the ghost town which was destroyed in the 1964 cyclone after which the city was deserted ,you can see the post office , railway station , church and rail tracks in ruins. The whole trip takes about 2 hours and its best to go in the evening or early morning to avoid the scorching sun , the mini truck start plying as early as 7 AM and ply till sundown 6 PM. The minitruck would start only after it’s packed to capacity which is about 20 passengers at the minimum , majority of your copasssengers would be fishmen and local folks.
Food is excellent in Rameswaram.A number of "Marwadi Bojanalays"- i.e. semi-sponsored resturants for charity are available near the west entrance of temple where you can have good food at reasonable price.
Except these semi-sponsored resturants, one good place is the Ram Nivas Mess. They specialise in Indian Chinese food and all the food we had there was amazing. They are a little slow but the food is definitely worth the wait. To get there you need to take a right at the temple when coming from the Bus Stand and walk about 50 metres.
Gujarat Bhavan offers excellent homely meals as well. However, be prepared for a long wait time. When you exit the temple from the East gate and walk straight, around 200 metres towards the sea-shore you will find this place on the right hand side.
Hotel Royal Park, Semma Madam, Ramnad Highway (on the main highway after the Pamban bridge), ☎ (04573) 221680 (mobile: (0) 94431 59722), . Best privately run hotel in town. The tariff is quite high considering that Rameswaram is a small town, 1650 R per night, excluding luxury tax which comes to about 200 rupees, no breakfast included. Also has a good restaurant attached. The staff are warm and friendly. Ample secure parking place for cars. But it is quite far away from the main temple.edit
Tamilnadu Hotel ( Hotel Agnniteertham ), Tel: 04573-221064-67 (email: firstname.lastname@example.org). of Tamilnadu Tourism Developement Corporation (TTDC)-an under taking of Taminadu Government - provides good accommodation at reasonable rates (Rs.300 - Rs.900). Hotel is situated in front of sea near important Ramanathaswami Temple of South India. (UP) This hotel is currently under renovation.
Blue Coral Cottage Address: Agasthiar Theertham, Near Tamilnadu Hotel, Telephone No: 091 -9578076352, Website:www.bluecoralcottage.com. Tariff:Starting from Rs.1350. The hotel is near temple and sea. There is no arrangement for food.
Sri Palaniandavar Lodge A/C, 1/8A south car street,Rameswaram, ☎ +919159340123, . Very near to the temple (500 meters), very decent and budget hotel but luxury in servicesRs.1200. edit
Kanniyakumari - A train 'Rameswaram Kanyakumari SF express' departs thrice a week (Monday, Thursday and Saturday) at 8:45 PM from Rameswaram railway station and arrives at Kanniyakumari at 4:05 AM, with plenty of time to reach Kanniyakumari beach and catch the spectacular sunrise. Do consult the latest railway timetable for schedule changes. There is also a bus to Kanniyakumari twice a day. It leaves at around 7 both in the morning and in the evening. It is an atrocious journey through awful roads and takes about 4 to 5 hours but it goes direct.Train runs on Madurai, Tirunelveli route whereas Bus passes through Ramanathapuram,Kilakarai,Ervadi,Sayalgudi,Tuticorin,Tiruchendur
Madurai - There are 3 passenger trains that depart from Rameswaram daily and do not require prior reservation. Departure times are 5:25 AM, 5:35 PM and 12:05 AM. The journey takes roughly 4 hours and is quite comfortable, with the day trains offering not to be missed views. Do consult the latest railway timetable for schedule changes. There are frequent buses as well.