Ramanathaswamy Temple is a Tamil Hindu Temple dedicated to the god Shiva. It is also one of the twelve Jyotirlinga temples. It is one of the 274 Paadal Petra Sthalams, where the three of the most revered Nayanar, Appar, Sundarar and Tirugnana Sambandar, have glorified the temple with their songs. The temple was expanded during the 12th century by Pandya Dynasty and principal shrines sanctums were renovated by Jeyaveera Cinkaiariyan and his successor Gunaveera Cinkaiariyan of the Jaffna kingdom. The temple has the longest corridor among all Hindu temples in India. The temple is located in Rameshwaram considered a holy pilgrimage site for Shaivites, Vaishnavites and Smarthas. The presiding deity, the Lingam of Ramanathaswamy (Shiva), is believed to have been established and worshipped by Rama, an avatar of the god Vishnu, to absolve the sins created during the Ramayana war at Sri Lanka. According to the Ramayana, Rama, the seventh avatar of the god Vishnu, prayed to the god Shiva to absolve him of the sin of killing a Brahmin, committed during his war against the demon king Ravana in Sri Lanka. Rama wanted to have a large lingam to worship Shiva. He directed Hanuman, to bring a lingam from the Himalayas. When Hanuman was delayed in bringing the lingam, Sita, the wife of Rama, built a small lingam out of the sand available in the sea shore, which is believed to be the lingam in the sanctum. There are sixty-four Tīrthas (holy water bodies) in and around the island of Rameshwaram, According to Skānda Purāṇa, twenty-four of them are important. Bathing in these Tīrthas is a major aspect of the pilgrimage to Rameshwaram and is considered equivalent to penance. Twenty-two of the Tīrthas is within the Rāmanāthasvāmī Temple. The number 22 indicates the 22 arrows in Rama’s quiver. The first and major one is called Agni Theertham, the sea (Bay of Bengal). The temple is one of the holiest Hindu Char Dham (four divine sites) sites comprising Badrinath, Puri and Dwarka. Though the origins are not clearly known, the Advaita school of Hinduism established by Sankaracharya, who created Hindu monastic institutions across India, attributes the origin of Char Dham to the seer. The four monasteries lie across the four corners of India and their attendant temples are Badrinath Temple at Badrinath in the North, Jagannath Temple at Puri in the East, Dwarakadheesh Temple at Dwarka in the West and Ramanathaswamy Temple at Rameshwaram in the South. Though ideologically the temples are divided between the sects of Hinduism, namely Saivism and Vaishnavism, the Char Dham pilgrimage is an all Hindu affair. As per Shiv Mahapuran, once Brahma and Vishnu had an argument in terms of supremacy of creation. To test them, Shiva pierced the three worlds as a huge endless pillar of light, the jyotirlinga. Vishnu and Brahma split their ways to downwards and upwards respectively to find the end of the light in either direction. Brahma lied that he found out the end, while Vishnu conceded his defeat. Shiva appeared as a second pillar of light and cursed Brahma that he would have no place in ceremonies while Vishnu would be worshipped till the end of eternity. The jyotirlinga is the supreme partless reality, out of which Shiva partly appears. The jyotirlinga shrines, thus are places where Shiva appeared as a fiery column of light. Originally, there were believed to be 64 jyotirlingas of which 12 are considered to be very auspicious and holy. Each of the twelve jyotirlinga sites takes the name of the presiding deity each considered a different manifestation of Shiva. At all these sites, the primary image is the lingam representing the Stambha pillar, symbolising the infinite nature of Shiva (without beginning or end). The twelve jyotirlinga are Somnath in Gujarat, Mallikarjuna at Srisailam in Andhra Pradesh, Mahakaleswar at Ujjain in Madhya Pradesh, Omkareshwar in Madhya Pradesh,Kedarnath in Himalayas, Bhimashankar in Maharashtra, Viswanath at Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh, Triambakeshwar in Maharashtra, Vaidyanath at Deoghar in Jharkhand, Nageswar at Dwarka in Gujarat, Rameshwar at Rameswaram in Tamil Nadu and Grishneshwar at Aurangabad, Maharashtra. The temple is one of the most famous pilgrimage sites and has several historical references about it. The Maratha kings who ruled Thanjavur established rest houses throughout Mayiladuthurai and Rameshwaram between 1745 and 1837 CE and donated them to the temple.