Rameshwaram and Dhanushkodi were in my to-visit list for a very long time. A few years ago when my whole family went to Rameshwaram, I got left behind because of various reasons. May be my time hadn’t come then and they hadn’t visited Dhanushkodi then. After my visit to Kasi, it was decided that I should go to Rameshwaram and close the circuit 🙂 (what with all my injuries, may be He will help me get a closure on it 😉 , who knows)
It was decided we will travel from Coimbatore to Rameshwaram on 17th Jan 2014. We booked a Tempo Traveler because there was another family too (one of our family friends). But this time, my brother and his family got left out because of the kid’s school. And I had already got the promise from my father that he ‘will’ let me visit Dhanushkodi, even if he is not interested, otherwise the deal for this trip is off 🙂 No points for guessing that he ‘had’ to relent. I can be quite persuasive if I really want something.
We started early, at around 6.30 am from Coimbatore via Madurai to Rameshwaram. We were joined by another big family near Trichy-Madurai junction in Highway (in their own Tempo Traveler) and off went the two Tempo Travelers to Rameshwaram. We reached around 4 pm, with 2-3 breaks (including a 45 min lunch break in a very nice place , sort of a small temple, but enough empty space with idols of Gods too). We had a short stop in Pamban Bridge , which actually connects the main land with the Rameshwaram island. This bridge is known for the railway line that goes much below the main bridge for other vehicles and how the bridge opens for passing ships and boats.
We had booked rooms for us in the Sringeri Mutt’s branch that is available next to the Temple entrance near the Agni Theertham side. We went and had some refreshments (made by a family next to the mutt and the coffee tasted too good) . They had stopped any vehicles from entering three sides of the temple, so we had to carry out luggage from the parking slot to the mutt. Its a little bit of a walk but it is better that way. It can handle the crowd better. After the refreshments we decided that we will complete the procedures for the evening by taking the dip in all the Theerthams.
First stop was the Agni Theertham, which is nothing but the sea shore. Everyone had prepped me saying that the sea will be too calm and that it will be a small dip and all that. But when we went there, it had huge waves and the weather was a little rough with heavy winds ….What can I say… It was just a day after Full Moon (and later we found out that it was the usual behavior during Full and No Moon days). We had some comical scenes there where we had to do the dip dip. You know that I really dont like to dunk myself in water…. I really tried hard to get myself wet without dunking but no such luck and the three dunks almost made me choke. In one of the dunk my mom pushed me a little further and I retaliated involuntarily by pushing her hand and she almost fell back 🙂 Definitely not my fault. My nephew (my sister and her son had accompanied us) was enjoying the scenery without knowing what is going to happen to him. Then when my mom was taking her dip , there came a heavy wave and pushed her and she fell backwards. God, I just couldn’t lift her up what will all the laughing going on and with my not-so-good left leg I couldn’t even put enough pressure to make her get up with the onslaught of waves attacking us. My father reached a little later with the other group and he took my nephew and dunked him once… Poor guy was literally freezing and was scared for a second and the next he was laughing so hard.
From there we went ahead to the temple, got the tickets (Rs 21 per person for getting into all the 21 theertham‘s) and went ahead. They assign one person who would take you to all the wells and pour the well water on you. Its a sort of cleansing process. The weird part is some well’s water is warm, some are freezing cold , some salty and some sweet. And all are within the single Temple premises. We had to walk around the temple. They had closed 2, 3 and 4 numbered wells for some reason, but the rest of the 21 we did and came out all drenched from head to toe and shivering a little. We managed to keep my nephew’s chill to a minimum by just sprinkling the well water on him. Once it was over , we almost ran to our rooms which was next to the temple and got changed (with a quick cold water bath too) and came back for a quick snack time and then proceed to pray. (We can’t pray on empty stomach). It was around 6.30 by then.
The mandapams in that temple have been renovated and they look so so so amazing. But no cameras or cell phones are allowed. They have security checks and they will confiscate in case you carry them. So we left it in our rooms. I felt so bad. They looked too good to not capture.
After praying, we all went back to our rooms to rest for a while and to feed the kid too. Since we had our tiffin in the evening none of us were hungry. So I took out my camera to try and get some night shots and went to the Agni theertham. The full moon there called me and I went ahead (even though I got a lot of weird stares from people around and the shops were starting to close by around 8 pm). Took some shots, walked around, got some milk for my nephew and went back for an early sleep. Those almost 8 hours of journey in the van combined with the chill due to all those cold water dips dragged us to a blissful sleep.
My work in Rameshwaram was over with those dips and prayers. The other two families had some homams to be done the next day for which my dad’s presence was required. But he arranged a jeep for myself, my mom, my sis and my nephew for our trip to Dhanushkodi, which we were supposed to complete by the time their homam gets over (around 3-4 hours time frame) because we had to start back after that. It was decided that we will leave for Dhanushkodi by 7 am. So we had to make sure to get up early the next day by 5.30 or so.