Ramanathaswamy Temple information
When Rama decided to worship Shiva, he figured he’d need a lingam to do the thing properly. Being a god, he sent Hanuman to find the biggest lingam around – a Himalayan mountain. But the monkey took too long, so Rama’s wife Sita made a simple lingam of sand, which is enshrined today in this temple's inner sanctum (open to Hindus only). Besides housing the world’s holiest sand mound, the temple, dating mainly from the 16th to 18th centuries, is notable for its long, long, 1000-pillar halls and 22 theerthams (tanks and wells). Pilgrims are expected to bathe in all 22 as well as the sea before visiting the deity. The temple bathing takes the form of attendants tipping pails of water over the (often fully dressed) faithful, who then hurry on to the next theertham . All this water sloshing around makes the temple floors pretty wet, and you'll have a less slippery amble round the corridors if you go when the inner sanctum is closed (12.30pm to 4.30pm).