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Man is a social animal, who always wants to associate with others. To

fulfill his desires, he inter-links with the society and agrees to adopt the rules

and regulations of the society. Every normal human being lives in a society,

which denotes in general that phase of the conditions of human life which

consists of inevitable action and reaction with many individuals of the society.

The concept of society does not refer simply to a group of people associated

for a social life. But the interactions and relationship that arise among them

are the activities of the society.

e social and religious beliefs,

language, education, fine arts and habits of the society. The cultures of the

world are system of collective habits. Culture is learnt through precisely the

same mechanism as that involved in all habit formation. A culture consists of

habits that are shared by members of a society, whether this be a primitive

tribe or a civilised nation.1 The culture of a society is, the total content of the

physic-social, bio-social and psycho social universes man has produced and

the socially created mechanism through which these social products operate.

environment are synonymous.

Harry L.Shapiro, (ed.), Man, Culture and Society, New York, 1960, pp.247-248.

Rameshwaram, the holy place plays an important role in the social,

religious, political and cultural life of the people. It is located on an island

separated by Pamban channel from the mainland. With an average height of

10 meters (32feet) above MSL, it is located at 9 28 latitude 79 3 longitude.

It lies on the national Highway 49 between Madurai to Dhanushkodi and is

also connected with other major district road of Ramanathapuram, Karaikudi,

Trichy and Madurai. It is 164 km from Madurai, which is the nearest airport.

A unique railway line on the Pamban Bridge is of 2.2km length connecting

Rameshwaram Island with the mainland. The railway bridge is noted for its

unique opening to allow passing of ships through the sea.2 It has an area

extent 5236.40 hectares. The developed extent in this area constitutes 14.69

percent and the huge area is available as dry land and sand dunes.


Rameshwaram is reputed for its sanctity and fertility. It has a glorious

history of the past and at present. As one of the important religious holy

places for Hindus throughout India, it is named as Rameshwaram, probably

after Rama, the King of Ayodhya, who worshipped the Lord Siva, as Eswara

at this place.3 The name Rameshwaram is derived from Rama the hero of

the Ramayana and Eswara i.e, Siva, meaning the place where Rama

worshipped Siva. He installed one of the twelve Jothirlingas of Lord Siva


City Development Plan, Rameswaram, Directorate of Municipal Administration,
Government of Tamil Nadu, April, 2009, p.32.
Master Plan, Deputy Director of Town and Country Planning, Sivagangai, 1991, p.1.
After killing Ravana, Rama sojourned at Gandhamadhnam with his

wife, Sita. The Rishis advised Rama to establish a Linga and worship it, so as

to purge himself of the sin of Brahmahatya (Brahmin cide) committed by

slaying Ravana, who was the son of a Brahmin and a Rakshasa woman. In

order to obtain the linga, he sent Hanuman to Kailas. Hanuman failed to

return in time. So Rama installed the Sivalinga made out of sand by Sita and

performed the necessary ritualistic worship. Soon Hanuman returned with a

lingam and when he found the sand Sivalinga, he tried to pull it out, but in

vain. So to console Hanuman, Rama installed one of the lingas brought from

Kailas on the northern side of Rameshwaram and named the deity as Kasi


Physical Features

Rameshwaram, an island in the Gulf of Mannar, is shaped in the form

of conch. It is irregular in shape about eleven miles in length by six in

breadth. In its south east extremity of the island, is a narrow spit of sand

nearly twelve miles in length stretching towards Ceylon and nearly joining

that chain of sand banks which separate the Gulf of Mannar from Palk
Straight and known as Adams Bridge The bank is gradually increasing in

length and pretty points out the manner in which the island and the adjacent

portion of the peninsula has been formed and their sedimentary origin. The

sand shells and debris of the coast thrown up by the violence of the monsoon

have been deposited, where the opposing currents from the east and west

Ramesh Chandra, (ed.), Encyclopedia of Indian Heritage, Historical Monuments of
India, Vol.I, New Delhi, 2004, p.233.
meet, these materials have gradually become consolidated and horizontal

strata of sand stone resting on a bed of gravel constitute the geological

structure both of the southern portion of Ramnad and of the Island of


The face of the country is low with hillocks of sand raised by the wind

interspersed here and there, occasionally forming small valleys containing

stagnant water.

Babool Jungle covers a considerable portion of the island and on the

south west and north western side, the coconut and palmyrah are abound.

There is no natural soil on the island, except over a small space of a couple of

square miles near its centre, but the fallen leaves have in some places created

as scanty soil which bears a coarse stunted grass and in the vicinity of the

villages, the liberal use of manure and a plentiful supply of water, has enabled

the inhabitants to bring small tracts of land under cultivation. They also

possess a few plantains, orange, lime, citron and pomegranate trees and

cultivate to a small extent betel, oil- nut, cumbu, ragi and cotton shrub. The

chary root springs up spontaneously along the coast and is highly esteemed

for dying scarlet.

In the vicinity of Rameshwaram is a fresh water lake filled by the local

rains about three miles in circumference and about three miles from the town

is an extensive. Salt marsh formed by the sea breaking over the bank during

the north east monsoon on the southern side of the island near Pamban, there

is a narrow back water, about a couple of miles in length.5


The climate of the land is generally hot and dry with a low humidity

except within a radius of about 0.2 km. from the coast, where the temperature

is cool on account of the sea breeze. The town receives rain from the north

east monsoon, which is often irregular and scanty. The monthly average

rainfall is 75.33mm which increases in the months of October, November and

December. But no rain harvesting processes are employed.


Three major religions viz; Hinduism, Islam and Christianity are found

in Rameshwaram which is mostly inhabited by the Hindus especially

Brahmins. According to the Census Report of 2011, Hindus constitute 87.40

per cent of the total population, Christians 8.13 per cent and the Muslims 4.36

per cent Sikhs also found here and there. A torso of the Buddha at

Ariyankundu and two small metal images found near Rameshwaram, reveal

that Buddhism also had a strong hold here till 7th Century A.D. But now few

alone are found in Rameshwaram.


This island consists of 12,150 household. The total population of this

island is 44,856. Among this, 22,783 are male population where as 22,073 are

A.Ramasami, Ramanathapuram District Gazetteer, Madras, 1972, pp.387-388.

female population.6 This indicates that the sex ratio of both men and women is

more or less the same with only a slight increase in men. The town had a total

of 16,645 workers comprising 15,367 main workers, 69 as cultivators 20,

agricultural labourers and 148 house hold industrial workers.


Rameshwaram has become the residence of many influential and

wealthy natives and the centre of considerable traffic. Caste is the basis for

the society. It consists of Brahmins, Maravas, Kallars, Vellalas, Agamudiyas,

Lebbais, Paravas, and others. Though the society is a caste oriented one, there

are no factions among the castes. All of them assist the devotees who visit

Rameshwaram in some form or other.

Ruling Dynasties

Rameshwaram was under the control of various dynasties during

various periods. The rulers like the Sangam Pandyas, medieval Pandyas,

Cholas, Later Pandyas, Madurai Nayaks, Sethupathi rulers and English had

their own control over this region up to 1947AD.


Rameshwaram through the ages faced many invasions like the Cholas,

Hoysalas, Singalese, Muslim, Vijayanagar, Madurai Nayaks and the

Portuguese invasion.

Census of India 2011, Tamil Nadu District Census Handbook, Ramanathapuram,

Places of Interest in and around Rameshwaram


It is situated in the Island of Rameshwaram at a distance of 28 miles to

the east of Ramanathapuram and seven miles to the west of Rameshwaram.

Swami Vivekananda landed at Pamban first on his triumphant return in

January 1897 from his tour abroad. He was given a royal welcome and Swami

Vivekananda delivered a speech at Pamban.7 It was an inspiring one even to

make Hindus to know about Hinduism

Annai Indra Gandhi Road Bridge

Indira Gandhi Road Bridge was constructed between Mandapam and

Pamban across Palk Strait. The bridge, one of the longest sea bridges in the

country, connects Rameshwaram Island with the mainland. The bridge,

considered as one of the engineering marvels in the country, took nearly 14

years to complete and it was inaugurated on October 2, 1988 by former Prime

Minister Rajiv Gandhi. This is 2.2 km long and supported by 79 pillars

including 64 pillars built in the sea. Since, the bridge is located at one of the

highly corrosive zones in the world and cyclone-prone areas, special interest

is shown to maintain it and to protect it from the impact of corrosion and

other natural factors.8 The bridge is designed like a bow over the sea to allow

ships to pass.

A.Ramasami, Gazetteer of India, Tamilnadu State, Ramanathapuram District,
Madras, 1972, pp.930-931.
The Hindu, dated 11th May 2011.
The Pamban Railway Bridge

The Pamban Railway Bridge, the longest and oldest one across the

Palk straits connects the main land with Rameshwaram Island. It is one of the

major attractions for tourists visiting from all over the country.9 This stands

for the technical skill of the engineers of the region.

It is believed that upto the first quarter of the fifteenth century,

Mandapam and Pamban were connected by a strip of land. A cyclone in the

15th century resulted in the submergence of that connecting strip of land

between Mandapam and Pamban. After that, boat service was the only mode

of transport between Mandapam and Pamban. Pamban Bridge is the only

connecting link between the main land and the Island of Rameshwaram. The

Pamban railway bridge popularly known as Pamban Viaduct was constructed

during the period ranging from August, 1911 to December 1913. It is also a

specimen for the technical skill of the engineers.

It was opened for traffic in 1914 by the South Indian Railway. The

year 1914 was a turning point in the history of South Indian Railway,

because, pilgrims are now enjoying the service of South Indian Railway. 10

The construction of the Pamban Bridge was carried out under the

direction of J.J Lewis an Englishman, who was the Chief Engineer of

Southern Railway. It was called as scholar rolling Lift Bridge named after the

Engineer, who designed it. The depth below the bridge is 12 and the

Ibid., dated 11th June, 2007.
G.O.No.174, Revenue Department, Government of Madras, Tamil Nadu, dated 3rd
February 1926, p.13.
navigation channel is known as the Pamban Pass.11 All these things stand to

prove the skill of the technicians and engineers.

On December 22, 1964 a devastating cyclone destroyed part of this

bridge. The Indian Engineers under Sreedharan, Chief Engineer of Southern

Railway reconstructed the Pamban viaduct.12 The services were resumed.

According to the announcement made by former Railway Minister,

Lalu Prasad Yadav in his budget speech, during the year 2005-06, Metre

gauge Railway Bridge is converted into broad gauge and the conversion work

is completed on 20th April 2007 and the train started its maiden journey on the


Pamban Railway Bridge, the longest and oldest Railway Bridge may

soon join the list of world heritage sites. Railway officials have started

collecting data for approaching the United Nations Educational Scientific and

Cultural Organisation to get the special status.14


the place where Sri Rama constructed the course way to reach Sri Lanka. The

story goes that Sri Rama destroyed the bridge with his bows end after his

return from Sri Lanka. The bath at Dhanushkodi is considered sacred because

R.S.Lalmohan, (ed.), Souvenir, CM FRI Mandapam Camp, Mandapam, 1986, p.28.
G.O.(Ms).No.2548, Public works Department, Government of Tamil Nadu, dated 3rd
December 1968, p.13.
Budget Speech of Former Railway Minister on 26th February 2005.
The Hindu, dated 1st September 2006.
Sagara Sangama, that is where two seas, Bay of Bengal and Indian Ocean


The infrastructure of Dhanushkodi was good until it was affected by

the storm in 1964. It was a flourishing tourist centre. The year 1964 is

memorable in the history of south India and also in the pages of southern

Railway. On 22nd December 1964, a storm formed in the Bay of Bengal hit

the eastern direction of Dhanushkodi town.16

As predicted by the Meteorological Department, heavy rain started

lashing the Rameshwaram Island from December 22, 1964. There was no

news about the fat

Pamban to Dhanuskodi at 11.55 pm. on 22nd December, 1964. The tragedy

came to light only on 25th December, 1964.

It was shocking news for the country, that the cyclone ravaged entire

Dhanuskodi and the whole train with nearly 200 passengers on board got

submerged in water while entering Dhanushkodi. The railway station was

washed away.17.The Southern part of Dhanuskodi surrounded by the buildings

including temple was submerged by the sea.18

An Advocate who was waiting at the Rameshwaram station for his

train around 11.00 a.m. on the day of the cyclone says that the winds howled

around the station and by 2.00 p.m. he took shelter in a train compartment like

A.Ramaswami, Gazetteer of India, op.cit., p.874.
File No.3141, Proceedings of the Government of Tamil Nadu, Revenue Department,
dated 6th October 1969, p.26.
The Hindu, dated 11th June 2007.
File No.3141, Proceedings of the Government of Tamil Nadu, Revenue
Department, dated 6th October 1969, p.26.
several others. Then peak of the storm was around 3.00 pm. When the

powerful winds tilted the compartment by 30 degrees, several people jumped

out fearing for their life. But the storm abated by 4.00 p.m. and when people

stepped out of the compartment, they saw a large crowd of people rushing

into the station. The fishermen families had lost their homes. While the first

gale brought raised water from the sea, the second gale from the opposite took

the water back with it. The night was terrible with howling winds.19

Hearing this, rescue operations were made by the Government. Food

and Home Minister came and supervised the undertaken rescue operations.

Feeding centers were opened and food pockets were dropped through

helicopters.20 All the required facilities were provided to suffering mass.

The buried railway track is our first glimpse of the land that once

flourished. A rusted four pillared structure, possibly a water tank welcomes to

this lost land. Another roofless shattered building resembles a church. A

ruined railway station and a temple lie among the debris, but the shells of the

structures sit peacefully induces of white sand against a deceivingly calm and

sparkling blue sea. Covered with weeds sunk in sand, corroded by the sea,

Dhanuskodi seems to be a living example of the impermanence of life. A ride

down this 20 km long straight road leading to the ruins of township is an

exciting experience.21

The Hindu, dated 24th January 2012.
File No.2273, Proceedings of the Government of Tamil Nadu, Revenue
Department, dated 8th October 1969, p.16.
The Hindu, dated 6th March 2004.
Swami Vivekananda Memorial at Kundhukal

Kundhukal is a place where Swami Vivekananda returned by a steamer

on January 26, 1897 after undertaking a historic tour to western countries and

spoke at various Universities, Institutions about India, its culture, people,

Hinduism and other things. The memorial was constructed to portray his

return from the USA.

for many days,

impressed upon the minds of the people. Therefore for the development of

places associated with the visit of Swami Vivekananda a detailed proposal for

a sum of Rs. 367.84 lakhs was sent to Ministry of Tourism, Government of

India. Accordingly Ministry of Tourism, Government of India has sanctioned

a sum of Rs.168.24 lakhs.22 It was beneficial for the erection for a memorial

for the illustrious son of India.

A magnificent memorial at a cost of Rs.1.3 crores was constructed at

Kundhukal in Rameshwaram under the public and private participation

concept. While the Department of Tourism contributed Rs.47 lakhs, Rama

Krishna Tapovanam, Tirupparaidurai in Trichy District spent Rs.80 lakhs by

collecting donation from philanthropists. The Maraikkayar family of

Mandapam donated five acres for this. The historic place and the memorial

Service to the poor

the tourists forever. The elegant beach behind the memorial is really a fit for

tourism.23 Thanks to the elegant architectural and sculpture works, the

Tourism Policy Note, 2005-2006, Government of Tamil Nadu, Chennai, 2005, p.18.
The Hindu, dated 5th February 2009.
memorial constructed, possess all credits to become one of the top most

tourist destinations in Rameshwaram Island. The towering building with the

background of sea attracts the Rameshwaram bound pilgrims and tourists

when they drive on Pamban road bridge another architectural marvel in the


It automatically induces them to visit the memorial which has a huge

statue of Swami Vivekanada, his messages ideals, principles, museum and

silence hall. A statue of Bhaskara Sethupathy, erstwhile Raja of Ramand who

played key role in sending Swami Vivekananda to the USA, has also been

installed in memory of his great service. Since it is situated on the bank of the

Gulf of Mannar, it has given value addition to the beautiful beach too. The

seashore location gives relaxation to the visitors and tourists. An average of

600 visitors during holidays, the number is triple than those visiting the

Vivekananda Bhaskaran, a small building where Swami Vivekanada stayed,

in Rameshwaram bus stand.24

Olaikuda Beach

The beach fronts in Tamil Nadu offer recreation to tourist and to the

local people, hence the beaches are flooded with people throughout the year.

During vacation and the public holidays the crowds become unmanageable.

Hence, the Tourism Department is duly bound to provide basic amenities at

beaches.25 The marvelous Olaikuda beach is located about one km away from

Rameshwaram. Here the sea is found to be enveloped with coral reefs and

Ibid., 21st August 2010.
Tourism Policy Note, 2005-2006, Government of Tamil Nadu, Chennai, 2005, p.20.

safe person bathing as well as swimming. Scuba diving is a popular

entertainment at the Olaikuda beach. Fishing boats are arranged for the

tourists. Water sports meet was organised for the first time at Olaikuda on

19th April 2015. The water sports meet was organised with the objectives of

attracting tourist and promoting tourism in this part of the state. After offering

worship at Ramanathaswamy temple, the pilgrims especially those who came

from North India, could enjoy water sports.26 During the review meeting held

on 11.3.2012, the Honble Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu had approved Rs.20

lakhs as non-recurring grant and Rs.5.00 lakhs as recurring grant for

developing beach games such as beach foot ball, beach volleyball and beach

Kabadi in ten places in coastal areas.27 Fish varieties like prawns, lobster and

sea cucumber are common in this place. Dry fishes are also available.

Kurusadi Island

The Gulf of Mannar located at the southern tip of Tamil Nadu is

known for its rich biodiversity in the world. In that region there is a string of

21 islands which has been declared as a Marine National Park under

Wildlife (Protection) Act of 1972 by the Government. Among the 21 islands,

the Kurusadi Island exemplifies itself for biological significance. Known

traditionally as a paradise for zoological collections the fauna around this

island has been extensively depleted since many decades. There is a good

vegetarian of palmyrah pros pies and other natural spices; good coral reef

The Hindu,, dated 19th April, 2015.
G.O.(Ms). No.6,Youth Welfare and Sports Development Department, (S2) dated 28th
January 2013.
growth is seen around this island.28 The best time to visit the island is from

January to April and September to October. Sea will be rough due to the

south-west wind during the months of May to August. It is better to avoid the

visits during the months of November and December due to cyclones and

heavy rains in these areas. A fair knowledge of tide is essential before

organising leisure tours. The low tide period is good for observing the animals

in their natural habitat.29. On 23rd October 2013 the Government of Tamil

Nadu sanctioned Rs.2 .50 crores to the Gulf of Mannar Biosphere Reserve

Trust for annual work plan.30 Thus steps are taken to promote tourism

prospects, in the Rameshwaram and Dhanushkodi regions.

Sea World Aquarium

Opposite to the Rameshwaram bus stand all can catch a quick glimpse

of an assortment of underwater creatures in their near natural habitat in the

Sea World Aquarium, the only one of its kind in the state, filled with such

varied marine life forms including exotic species such as octopus, snake fish,

parrot fish, sea lizard, cow fish, lion fish, rabbit fish, fire fish, buffer fish, sea

horses, sea lotus and sharks. This is a feast for young tourists, kids and lovers

of marine life.31 This is a unique aspect of tourism.

House of A.P.J. Abdul Kalam

For visitors to the Island, especially students and children from all

parts of the country, a trip to the Island will not be complete one without

Database Built on Mannar Biosphere Reserve, ENVIS centre, Department of
Environment, Government of Tamil Nadu, Chennai, 2015, p.31.
R.S.Lalmohan, op.cit., p.27.
GO.(RT) No.727, Environment and Forest Department, 23rd October 2013.
City Development Plan, op.cit., p.82.
making a visit to the gallery located on a narrow lane in a residential area. The

gallery was inaugurated by Dr. A.P.J.Abdul Kalam and Scientist

Sivthanupillai on 27th July, 2011. Since, people have been making a beeline

to this gallery.

It consists of a number of memorabilia replicas of the missiles

developed with his active contribution, medallions, citations, degrees and

awards won by him. Many rare photographs of his humble beginning from

Rameshwaram to majestic Rastrapati Bhavan and childhood to present age

found their place in the gallery. Located in the first floor of his renovated

ancestral house, the gallery tracks his life and growth, throwing glimpses of

average of 1000 visitors, which is about 10 percent of total tourists visiting

Rameshwaram daily. The number goes up during festival days and peak

seasons. The visitors are not without students. A sizable number of school

children visit to the gallery. The gallery is always busy, since dawn to dust the

visitors in variably raises a number of questions about the rise of A.P.J. Abdul

Kalam. Though Kalam is away from the gallery, his soul is always revolves

around it.32

Area of Study

The present study describes the history of society and culture in

Rameshwaram, a town in Ramanathapuram District.

The Hindu, dated 19th April 2012.
Aims and Objectives

This study aims,

1. To trace the political History of Rameshwaram

2. To highlight the social structure of Rameshwaram
3. To analyse the cultural life of people in Rameshwaram and
4. To find out the importance of the temples in Rameshwaram as a nerve
centre of culture.
Scope and Purposes

The proposed thesis makes an attempt

1. To bring out the condition of the society in Rameshwaram

2. To give the cultural life of the People in Rameshwaram

3. To provide the political history of Rameshwaram from ancient period

to the present day,

4. To make a critical study on the contribution of different sections of

society to improve the culture of Rameshwaram and to study the social

set up and the cultural life of the people in Rameshwaram and

5. To illustrate the different religious centers with special reference to

Ramanathaswamy Temple.

This study, by identifying and throwing light on lesser-known temples

and places, will create a new interest in the minds of common people as well

as tourists.


The methodology employed for this study is descriptive and narrative.

All efforts have been made to make the procedure as uniform and consistent.

Review of Literature

Ramesvaram Temple History, Art and Architecture

(Madurai: 1998) traces the history of Rameshwaram temple and the

importance of Rameshwaram in the Hindu cosmos. He has pointed

He has described the layout of the temple, architecture and sculpture of the

temple in a detailed manner. He has given details of the administration, rituals

and festivals of the temple. In his findings he has explained the sacredness of

the place, negligence of the early shrines in the temple complex and

degradation of both architectural and sculptural traits of the early period into

stylized stucco rendered and ugly one.

The Setu and Rameshwaram (Madras: 1929)

highlights the Setubandha and its manifold importance, the Setu Yatra and

small introduction to Rameshwaram Island. He also explained the topography

of the temple, its design, architecture and sculpture in a lucid manner. He has

given details of management worship and the income of the temple. The

appendix contains the authoritative passages from various sacred works in

Sanskrit regarding the antiquity and importance of the Setu and


Ramar Seitha Koil Rameshwaram (Ramanathapuram:

2004) too points out the history of Rameshwaram, temple, its administration

and the poojas. He has also described the Inscriptional, copper plate sources

which mention Rameshwaram. He also explains the places in and around

Rameshwaram and the foreign notices on Rameshwaram.

Rameshwaram Arulmigu Ramanathaswamy

Tirukkoil Vizhakkal (Virudhunagar: 2005) traces the festivals celebrated in

Ramanathaswamy temple and the literatures which mention about


Sethupathi Mannar Seppedugal (Tamil)

(Ramanathapuram: 1994) highlights the contribution made by Sethupathis of

Ramnad to the Ramanathaswamy Temple.

Temples of TamilNadu (Bangalore:

2001) presents the ancient history of Rameshwaram, temple architecture and

the Theerthas in the temple. He also describes the memorial to Adi

Shankaracharya in Rameshwaram.

P.V.Jagadisa Ayyar, in his work, South Indian Shrines (Madras:1920)

has mentioned the history of Rameshwaram. The emphasis is given to the

rituals performed in the temple. He has also explained the utensils which are

used in the temple for the poojas, in a detailed manner.

Sethupathis of Ramnad (Karaikudi: 1959), the work of

S.Thiruvenkatachari, explores the relation between Sethupathis of Ramnad

and Rameshwaram in particular, Ramanathaswamy Temple a work states that

Sethupathis were the custodians of Sethu (Rameshwaram).


This thesis is mainly based on primary as well as secondary sources.

The primary sources are classified into archival sources, archaeological

materials, published Government documents and the contemporary literary

works published. The Government documents include Census Reports,

Administrative Reports, Departmental Annual Reports, Manuals, Annual

Statistical Publications and periodicals published by Government and Sri

Ramanathaswamy Temple Devasthanam Records.

The Sthalapuranam of Ramanathaswamy temple provides valuable

information regarding the origin of temple, poojas and festivals.

and copper plates also give more general information about the society and


A Topographical list of the Inscription of the Madras Presidency has

been deciphered by eminent Tamil Nadu Archeologist V.Rangacharya records

about the rulers and the offerings made to the temple.

The records of Madras Government form the most important sources

for this thesis. The Military, Public, Judicial and Revenue Consultations are

useful to know the society of Rameshwaram. The Dispatchers, which passed

between the Madras Government and the Board of Directors in England,

provide the reviews of the situation from time to time. The Reports of the

Collectors, Commissions and Committees appointed by the Government then

and there deal elaborately with the problems that confronted with the people

and Government. Government of Tamil Nadu Tourism Policy Note and

Hindu Religious, Charitable and Endowment Policy Note are utilized for the


In addition to the sources mentioned above, following records are also

utilised for the preparation of research work. Marine Fisheries Census of

India, Administrative Reports of Rameshwaram Town Panchayat, Reports of

the Office of the Deputy Director of Town and Country Planning,

Sivagangai, Statistical Hand Book of Department of Economics and Statistics,

The District Revenue and General Administration Report and Reports of the

Techno-Economic Survey of Ramanathapuram District.

Popular Tamil literary works such as Ahananuru, Thevaram,

Thayumanavar Padalkal, Tirumanthiram of Thirumular, Thiruppugal of

Arunagirinathar, Sethupuranam of Nirambaalakiya Desikar,

Skandapuranam, Kamba Ramayanam and Sri Mahabharatha are also

utilised for the preparation of this research work.

The secondary sources are used substantially to supplement the data

supplied by primary sources. They include contemporary and semi

contemporary writings in the form of books, published thesis, newspaper

reports and periodicals to the contemporary and back volumes. The veracity

of the sources is tested through cross examinations. The sources are analysed

both intensively and exhaustively so as to eliminate the charges of bias.

Ramanathapuram Manual of T.Raja Ram Rao, Ramanathpuram

District Gazeteer by A.Ramaswami, Census of India 1961 by P.K.Nambiar,

Madurai Nayakkar Varalaru by A.K.Paranthamanar, Hoysala in the Tamil

Country by K.R.Venkatraman, List of the Antiquarian Remains in the

Presidency of Madras by Robert Sewell, The Medival Pandyas by

N.Sethuraman, History of the Nayaks of Madura by R.Sathiyanatha Iyer,

Rise and Fall of the Poligars of Tamil Nadu by K.Rajayyan, South Indian

Studies by R.Nagasamy, The Tamil Country under Vijayanagar by

A.Krishnaswami, and The Religions of India by A.Barth form as important

secondary sources.

The other important works which deserve to be mentioned here are as

Mysore and Coorg, South India and

SriLanka The Wonder that was India, Josep

The Art of Indian Asia, Kingship and Political Practice,

Introduction to Indian Architecture, Halen Cameron

Hindu Life and Customs A History of the Art

in India and Ceylon, Edgar T Caste and Tribes of South India,

The Political Evolution of Muslims in Tamil Nadu and

Madras 1930-1947 Historical Dictionary of the

Tamils, A Companion of the Anthropology of India,

Dharma Land and Caste in South India Hindu

Manners Customs and Ceremonies, Modern World

Religions Hinduism.

History of Indian and Eastern Architecture, Percy

Indian Architecture, S.Thiruchitra Ramanathpura

Mavatta Thiruthalangal Splendor of Tamil Nadu etc. are

other sources consulted.

The sources mentioned above relating to Rameshwaram are preserved

in the Tamil Nadu State Archives and Madras University Manuscript Library.

Apart from these, the data found in various other libraries and information

collected by eminent scholars, who did research on this particular field form a

good deal of useful sources.


This thesis is organised in five chapters including Introduction and

Conclusion. The Introduction Chapter deals with the etymology of

Rameshwaram, physical features, places of interest in and around

Rameshwaram, aims and objectives and methodology. The primary and

secondary sources available for this study are also mentioned.

The Second Chapter entitled The Political Glimpses of Rameshwaram

deals with the ancient history of Rameshwaram, its association with

Ramayana and other Puranas. The following historical events are described

in detailed manner. The earliest association of the Cholas with Rameshwaram

Rameshwaram, Later Pandya ruler Maravarma Srivallabha Pandya who

covered the Rameshwaram temple tower with copper sheets, Ceylonese King

temple, religious connection between Rameshwaram and Jaffana, Kumara

their grants to the temple, Portuguese encampment at Rameshwaram in A.D.

1662, renovation and repairing works of the temple by Nayaks of Madurai,

Sethupathis of Ramnad, who were the custodian of the idol and their liberal

grant to the temple . Apart from this, Rameshwaram under the control of the

East India Company, its formation as Panchayat Union in A.D.1885, as

township in A.D.1958 and in A.D.2004 its up-gradation as third grade

Municipality and its present position as second grade Municipality are all

described in detailed manner.

The Third Chapter Society and Culture deals with the social

conditions of the people in Rameshwaram. The first few pages are allotted for

various castes and its coexistence amidst mutual discrimination. The other

aspects discussed are marriages, funeral ceremonies, dress and ornaments,

food habits, superstitions and festivals. The second half of this chapter deals

with the description of three major religions of this region, namely Hinduism,

Islam and Christianity. Advent of Islam and Christianity in this region dealt

with at some length. The culture of the people are also described in detail.

The fourth chapter deals with Temples: The Nerve Center of

Rameshwaram Culture. The first few pages describe the Ramanathaswamy

temple, its festivals and administration. The second half of this chapter deals

with the other temples and its cultural contribution to the society. It

establishes the greatness of the rulers through their feats in art and


The concluding chapter summarises and sums up the views and

arguments put forth in the earlier chapters. The research findings have been

carried out. This study has its own dynamism. As research is a continuous

process, this study paves the way for further exploration in this area.