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RAMESHWARAM, WHERE THE WORSHIPPER AND THE WORSHIPPED ARE DIVINE

Rameshwaram, the Kashi of the South, is unique in that here, Siva had been worshipped by Lord Rama, when Sita was kidnapped by Ravana. Rama with His army decided to invade Lanka, but a bridge had to be built to enable the army to cross the mighty ocean. The monkeys worked hard during the day, but at night, Ravana would always destroy whatever they had built and their efforts would prove futile. Finally, Jambavan suggested that a temple of Siva be built on the bridge, so that Ravana, a staunch devotee of Siva, would never dare to destroy it. Thus, the temple of Rameshwaram came to be built.

But, another more popular legend goes that the temple was built by Rama, when He was returning to Ayodhya along with Sita. Overwhelmed by a sense of gratitude, Rama decided to worship Siva. Hanuman rushed to fetch a stone, which would be symbolic of the spirit of Siva, but before he returned with the stone, Rama had already begun to worship a symbol, which He had Himself made. Hanuman felt very sad. But, Rama assured him that the stone, which he had brought would be worshipped first.

So, it happens to this day. Before a devotee can offer his prayers to the deity formed by Rama, he has to worship Vishweshwara, the deity brought by Hanuman. Such is the glory of this pilgrim spot favoured by devotees from all over India. People believe that though a pilgrimage to Kashi gives moksha, it is never complete without a visit to Rameshwaram.

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