Kasi vs Rameswaram
Two of the Jothingam shrines out of the twelve are in Kasi Vishwanatha temple and Rameswaram Sri Ramanathaswamy temple
Like Kasi to North, Rameswaram is to South
Gange for Kasi, Agni theertham for Rameswaram
In Kasi devotees can touch and perform abhishekam to the sacred Jyotirlingam, with water from the Ganges, milk and flowers whereas in Rameswaram traditional form of worship is followed
Hindus worship at Rameswaram for prosperity in this life, and in Kasi to get liberated from the real world and reach the foot of lord Siva after death (Moksha)
Hindus believe that their pilgrimage to Kasi is incomplete without a pilgrimage to Rameswaram
Kasi and Rameswaram are two of the oldest Hindu pilgrimage centers in India. Kasi is in the Northern part of India and Rameswaram is in the Southern end of India, 3200km apart.
Kasi is the other name for the ancient city Varanasi. It is also called by the name Benaras. It is situated on the banks of the river Ganges and this is the primary reason for its sanctity. It is located in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh.
Rameswaram on the other hand is located in the Indian state of Tamilnadu. It is located on Pamban Island and is about 50 kilometers from the Mannar Island in the country of Sri Lanka. Like river Gange to Kasi, Agni theertham is for Rameswaram.
According to Hindu mythology, Rameswaram is the place from where Lord Rama built a bridge with the help of monkeys to retrieve Sita who was abducted by Ravana, the king of Lanka.
Kasi is considered the holiest place in the world by the Hindus and they are expected to pilgrimage at least once in their life to this holy place. Kasi is home to Viswanatha Temple where the presiding deity is Lord Siva. Siva is worshipped in the Jothilinga form in this temple.
The Hindus consider that their pilgrimage to Kasi is incomplete without a pilgrimage to Rameswaram as well. Lord Siva is the presiding deity of Rameswaram too, and in the same Jothilinga form with the name Sri Ramanatha Swamy. Out of the twelve Jothilingas two are enshrined in these two temples.
Apart from the Hindus, the Buddhists and the Jains consider Kasi as very holy indeed. Gautama Buddha gave his first sermon at Sarnath located near Varanasi.
Kasi has derived a lot of importance due to its proximity to the river Ganges. There are around hundred ghats in Varanasi linking to Ganges. Many of these ghats are associated with Hindu legends and mythologies. Some of these ghats are used for taking holy dip in the Gange and for performing religious rituals while some other are used as cremation sites. The Hindus firmly believe that a holy dip in the Ganges in Kasi would make them get rid of all their sins. Death in Kasi is considered very holy in the sense that the person is not destined to be born again. Oblations are given to the dead ancestors with the belief that they would be happy in the other world. Those who are unable to visit Kasi take a holy dip in Agni theertham and give oblations to their ancestors at Rameswaram.
There are 36 water springs in Rameswaram of which 22 are in the Ramanathaswamy temple and these waters are said to possess medicinal properties. Bathing in these is considered to be of great significance. The Agni theertham of the temple refers to the ocean while the Koti theertham is located within the temple itself.
Hindus believe that you have to go on pilgrimage to Kasi in a group while you have to go alone to Rameswaram.
Kasi is home to music traditions. The Benaras Gharana of the Hindustani Music style has developed in Kasi. Kasi was made their home by several poets like Kabir, Munshi Premchand, Ravidas and musicians like Ravi Shankar, Girija Devi and Hariprasad Chaurasia to mention a few. Tulsidas wrote Ramacharitamanas here. Varanasi is also famous for Banares saries and carpets.
The thousand pillar corridor in the Sri Ramanathaswamy temple and the foot of Rama, Naga Idols at Ram temple and Sita Kund are some of the places to see in Rameswaram.