RAMANATHAPURAM

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Location : Ramanathapuram District, Tamil Nadu
Named After : Lord Rama
Ruled By : Pandyas, Cholas, Nayaks Of Vijayanagar, Marathas, Nizams And The British
Main Attractions : Rameshwaram, Uttarakosamangai, Sethu, Tiruppullani And Gandamadhana Parvata

Ramanathapuram district has an area of 4,232-sq-km and occupies part of the flat southern coastal plains, including the island of Rameswaram. Protected from the northeastern and southwestern monsoons by the Western Ghats to the west and the mountains of Sri Lanka to the southeast, it has an unusually dry climate, but irrigation tanks (embanked earth reservoirs) enable the district to produce chilies and cotton for export.

It's Location

It is bounded on the north by Sivaganga and Pudukkottai districts, on the east and south by the Bay of Bengal, and on the west by Tuticorin and Virudunagar districts. The district headquarters is located at Ramanathapuram, a small town of the same name as the district.

Ramanathapuram formed part of Pandyan Kingdom; it produces textiles and jewellery and has two colleges affiliated with the Madurai-Virudunagar University. Its name refers to the Hindu god Rama.

Ramanathapuram having been known from early times and mentioned in Ramayana and later in Tamil Puranas naturally has a good number of places of worship associated with Hindu gods. Of these, Rameswaram deserve mention, which even now attracts large number of persons all over the country.

History Of Ramanathapuram

In the early centuries, Ramanathapuram district formed part of Pandyan Kingdom. Its history is closely linked with the Pandyan Kingdom till the end of the 15th century. The Pandyan Kings ruled over the territories, which comprised of Madurai, Ramanathapuram and Tirunelveli. For a brief period, this area was also under the Chola Kings when Rajendra Chola brought it under his authority in 1063 AD.

Ramanathapuram territory was also under the Muslim Empire till 1365 AD. With the help of the Vijayanagar King, this territory was brought again under the rule of Pandyas by Parakaram Pandya Deva. By about 1520 AD, the Nayaks of Vijayanagar took over this territory under their control from the Pandyan Dynasty. For about two centuries, Nayak Kings ruled Ramanathapuram territory from Madurai.

During the Nayaks rule, the Marava chieftains-Sethupathis who were lords under the Pandyan Kings reigned over this part in 17th century. The history of Ramanathapuram is closely linked with the history of the Palayams. Ramanathapuram fell into the hands of Chanda Sahib of Carnatic in 1731 AD. In 1741 AD, the area came under the control of the Marathas and then under the Nizam in 1744 AD. Nawab's rule was not acknowledged by these chieftains. In the middle of 18th century, they declared the adopted son of Queen Meenakshi, the last Nayak ruler, as the King of Pandya Mandalam against the Nawabs. In 1773 AD, General Smith brought them under the authority of the British. The British took control of the administration of Ramanathapuram in 1795 AD. It was converted into a Zamindari in 1803 AD and Mangaleswari Nachiyar was made a Zamindar.

Ramanathapuram and Sivaganga continued to be Zamins till the system of Zamindari was abolished in 1948 AD after India attained Independence. In the year 1985 the district of Ramanathapuram trifurcated forming three separate districts i.e. Ramanathapuram, Sivaganga and Virudunagar.

PRIME ATTRACTIONS

Rameshwaram

Rameshwaram is a pilgrimage centre of nationwide importance, as Rama is said to have worshipped Shiva here on his way back from Sri Lanka. The temple is in the island of Rameshwaram, the Banares of the South, connected to the mainland by a bridge. The deity here constitutes one of the 12 Jyotirlingas of India.

A pilgrimage to Rameshwaram is among the important injunctions laid on the Hindu from time immemorial. The great temple of Sri Ramanatha is connected by tradition with Kasi (also spelt as Kashi). A pilgrimage to Kasi is not considered complete without a pilgrimage to Rameshwaram.

Gandamadhana Parvata

On the island of Rameshwaram (also spelt as Rameshwaram), just outside the Ramanatha temple there are a few sites also held sacred. About 2.5-km west of the temple, on a hillock, stands the Gandamadhana Parvata. In this Mandapa footprints of Sri Rama are enshrined. From the top of the Mandapa there is a fine view of parts of the island. Eight kilometres from the temple, on the way to Dhanushkodi, there is a beautiful temple of Sri Kodandarama where, tradition says, Vibishana was crowned when he joined Sri Rama.

Tiruppullani

Outside the island of Rameswaram, there are three other sites traditionally connected with Sri Rama's expedition to Sri Lanka. A big temple in Tiruppullani commemorates the tradition that there the Lord obtained a bow and arrows to use in the impending war from its presiding deity and also that the Lord of the Ocean who had refused to help Him finally submitted.

Sethu

5-km south of the Ramanatha temple is Sethu, where there is a celebrated temple of Sri Anjaneya, and where, tradition holds, Sri Rama built a bridge to Sri Lanka. In Devipatnam, or Navapashanam, also by the sea, there are nine stones visible at low tide. It is believed that they were set up by Sri Rama to represent the nine planets, the Navagrahas.

Uttarakosamangai

16-km southwest of Ramanathapuram stands the renowned Shiva temple of Uttarakosamangai. Manikkavachagar has sung of it. The Lord is Mangaleshvara and the Goddess Mangalesvari. The temple has inspired many Tamil works of devotion. So, of course, has the Ramanatha temple in Rameswaram.

To the making, expansion and preservation of these and many other temples in the district, the 'Setupathis' of Ramanathapuram contributed magnificently. Originally a ruling power in these parts, the British made them Zamindars. The Sethupathi's proud boast was that he was the guardian of the Sethu. The family is closely connected with the temples in Rameswaram, Tiruppullani, and Uttarakosamangai.

HOW TO GET THERE

Air: The nearest airport is at Madurai, 110-km away.

Rail: Ramanathapuram has a railway station, which is well connected by rail with all major cities like Chennai, Madurai, Coimbatore, Trichy, Thanjavur etc.

Road: State transport buses are available from the railway station to the various places in and around Ramanathapuram. For local transportation taxis, auto-rickshaws and cycle-rickshaws are available.

WHERE TO STAY

Accommodation is available at the medium class hotels, lodges and devasthanam cottages in Ramanathapuram.

RESTAURANTS

Vegetarian: - Hotel Abirami
Salai Street, Ramanathapuram.

Vasantham Restaurant
12, Railway Feeder Road
Near Anna Bus Stand
Front Railway Station, Ramanathapuram.

Hotel Arul Jothi
Thurairaj Sathra Street
Near Jegan Theatre, Ramanathapuram.

Sri Krishna Bhavan
Madurai N.H Road
Opposite Goverment Hospital, Ramanathapuram-623501.

Sri Saravana Bhavan
Opposite Old Bustand
Near Railway Station, Ramanathapuram-623504.

Hotel Anusiya
Big Bazaar
Near Aranmanai , Ramanathapuram-623535.

Non-Vegetarian: -

Hotel Kurinji
Main Branch: Big Bazaar, Agraharam Road, Ramanathapuram-623501.
Branch: Chinnakkadai, Near Bharathi Nagar Bus Stop, Ramanathapuram.

GENERAL INFORMATION

Area: 63-sq-kms
Population: 52,654 (1991 Census)
Latitude: N9° 05' to 9o 56'
Longitude: E 78o 12' to 79o 26'
Clothing: Light Cottons
Languages Spoken: Tamil, Telugu and English
STD Code: 04567
Climate: Tropical
Temperature Range (deg C):
Summer- Max 48ºC, Min 35.6ºC
Winter- Max 30ºC, Min 25ºC
Rainfall: 949 mm

NEARBY CITIES

Sivaganga - 39-km
Tuticorin - 126-km
Viruduanagar - 97-km



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