Ramanathaswamy Temple

Hindu Temple in Rameswaram

Housing the world’s most sacred sand mound (a lingam said to have been created by Rama's wife Sita, so he could worship Shiva), this temple is one of India's holiest shrines. Dating mainly from the 16th to 18th centuries, it's notable for its lengthy 1000-pillar halls and 22 theertham (temple tanks), in which pilgrims bathe before visiting the deity. Attendants tip pails of water over the (often fully dressed) faithful, who rush from theertham to theertham.

The legend goes that, when Rama decided to worship Shiva, he figured he’d need a lingam. He sent Hanuman to find the biggest lingam around – a Himalayan mountain. But the monkey took too long, so Sita made the simple lingam of sand, now enshrined in the temple's inner sanctum (Hindus only).

Cameras, phones and bags are forbidden inside the temple.