RAMESWARAM: With the Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday virtually completing the Ramayana circuit for Tamil Nadu by flagging off a direct train linking Rameswaram to Ayodhya, the tourism and hospitality sectors here are excited over the prospects of increased footfalls and year-long activities. At present on an average 15-20,000 pilgrims visit the renowned Sri Ramanathaswamy temple, here, on an average per day and Rameswaram, which has other attractions, lures about 7 lakh domestic tourists and sizeable number of foreigners, in addition, every month.
“The Prime Minister has now linked Ram Setu to the Lord’s birthplace (Ayodhya). This completes the Ramayana circuit for us in Tamil Nadu. The pilgrims on this new direct train are indeed blessed. This new train service will see a quantum leap in tourist traffic and will be a boon for those keen on embarking on religious tourism,” says V. P. Srinivasan, a tour operator.
The temple and also the island of Rameswaram acquired the name as Lord Ram worshipped Lord Siva, upon his return from Sri Lanka along with Sitadevi after slaying Ravana. Immediately after he reaches the shores here, He installs and worships the Sivalingam brought from Kailash by Hanuman. “Rameshwar’s land is also associated with Lord Ramchandra ji. And today I am happy that I got an opportunity to inaugurate the rail linking Rameswaram to Ayodhya: Shradhha Setu, In the same way, the road to Dhanushkodi, those who want to go to see the Ram Sethu, who want to move through the sea route, they have completed the work of an important road, and got an opportunity to devote to the countrymen today, Mr Modi said on Thursday.
As if to lend more significance to this special route, recently, UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath had remarked after visiting Ayodhya, “if the government feels the need to do so, Ram Setu could be rebuilt till Sri Lanka to trace the journey of Lord Ram as part of the Ramayana circuit.” But considering the tenuous relations with Colombo, it may not be possible for PM Modi to deliver unto his UP CM his dream to have Ram Setu rebuilt to link up Lanka; still, the religious tourism has received a big boost by his clicking green the Ayodhya Rameswaram rail link.
Apart from the religious significance from the train link, Thursday’s inaugural of the memorial for former President A. P.J. Abdul Kalam has added to the local excitement. “50,000 people including those who attended the PM’s public meeting had visited the memorial on the inaugural day alone. We anticipate good number of visitors on a daily basis,” a senior tourism official said. According to sources at the Sri Ramanathaswamy temple, the shrine gears up to receive about two lakh devotees during the Thai, Adi and Mahalaya Amavasa days and during festival occasions. A unique feature at this temple is the priests perform Ahishekam to the Spatika Lingam daily between 5 and 6 am with the fresh milk procured from the temple cows,
Officials, sources said, have evolved a road map linking Sri Ramanathaswamy temple with Setukarai, Uppar PIllaiyar, Devipattinam and Triplani to complete the Ramayana circuit in the district. And it has been proposed to take up appropriate infrastructure work for `50 crore. The Indian government has identified 11 destinations spread across 6 States including Ramewsaram in TN.
Already there are a couple of star hotels and few well appointed hotels that are moderately priced including the Hotel Tamil Nadu run by the Tamil Nadu Tourism Development Corporation (TTDC) which has a massive 6 acre complex right next to the sea, close to the Ramanathaswamy temple and bathing ghat. However, the TTDC has to put in some extra efforts and excise its management brains to take advantage of the impending tourist growth in the coming days....