Rameswaram is known for one of India’s most venerated and most visited Shiva shrines, dedicated to Sri Ramanathaswamy. It is so intimately associated with the life of Sri Rama, the hero of the epic Ramayana, that both Saivites and Vaishnavites consider every grain of Rameswaram’s sand very sacred. There is a traditional belief among the Hindus that a pilgrimage to Kashi will be complete only after a visit to Rameswararn, also hailed as “Benaras of the South”. Pilgrims aspire for a holy dip in the sea at Dhanushkodi, revered as Sethu Theertha, where the Mahodathi (Bay of Bengal) meets Ratnakara (Indian Ocean).
The sanctity and antiquity of Rameshwaram is summed up in the old saying Aa Sethu Himachalam. The merits of Sethu Yatra are described in the Vedas and in almost all the Puranas -- Agneya, Bhagavatha, Padma, Shiva and Skanda Puranas, to mention a few. Numerous literary works in Sanskrit and Tamil from the period of Valmiki Ramayana extol the significance of Sethu Yatra. The four Saivite saints Appar, Sundarar, Sambandar and Manickavasagar have sung in praise of Lord Rarnanathaswamy. Saint Thayumaanavar was a staunch devotee of Goddess Parvathavardhini.
Rameshwaram is the abode of one of the 12 Jyothirlingas of India. It is also considered one among four most sacred pilgrim centers of India. They are Rameswaram in the South, Badrinath in the North, Puri in the East and Dwaraka in the West. Among these, Rameswaram is dedicated to Shiva, while the other three are dedicated to Vishnu.
Rameswaram is an acclaimed Parihara Sthala, where it is believed all sins get absolved. Devotees take holy dips at Sethu Theertha, Agni Theertha and other sacred waters, offer pujas to get progeny, perform Shraadha for their ancestors and do Naga Prathishta