THE SRI RAMANATHASWAMY TEMPLE IN RAMESWARAM
The Sri Ramanathaswamy Temple in Rameswaram is a famous Hindu temple dedicated to Lord Shiva. The Temple is also one of the twelve Jyotirlinga temples, where Lord Shiva is worshipped in the form of a Jyotirlinga meaning “pillar of light”. The Ramanathaswamy Temple in its current structure was built during the twelfth century by Pandya Dynasty. Over the centuries various sections of the temple have been constructed by different rulers. Originally the shrine was housed in a thatched hut until the twelfth century AD looked after by a series of ascetics. It is a world heritage site and the rulers of Ceylon contributed to the Sri Ramanathaswamy Temple. The existing records shows that the first masonry structures for the Garbha grahas (sanctum sanctorum) of Sri Ramanathaswamy, Parvadhavardini, Sri Viswanathar, Sri Visalakshi and Vairavaswamy were built by Maharaja Parakrama Bahu I (1153-1186) of Ceylon. The contribution by the Arya Cakravartti, Kings of Jaffna to the Sri Ramanathaswamy Temple was considerable.
The Kings of Jaffna were the trustees of the celebrated shrine of Rameswaram. Kunavira Cinkai Ariyan Pararacacekaran caused the “Ketppakiragam” (main shrine) to be built with stones. Some inscription recording the construction of the principle shrines at Rameswaram by a King of Jaffna, Kunavira Cinkai Ariyan Pararacacekaran in Saka year 1336 (AD 1414). The granite stones used for this purpose are said to have been hewn at Thirukonamalai (Trincomalee), numbered on the spot and then transported to Rameswaram by sea. The evidence from these inscriptions may only show that even in the fifteenth century the Arya Cakravarttis considered that they had an obligation for the maintenance of the shrines at Rameswaram.