Rameshwaram, as a temple town and one of the post important pilgrim centres in India, is pretty famous for its temples and religious sites. From the world famous Ramanathaswamy Temple to lesser known temples like Gandamadana, it has many attraction for Hindu pilgrims. The Five faced Hanuman Temple (or Panchmukhi Hanuman Temple) is another relatively lesser known but a unique destination for Hindu pilgrims, specially Hanuman bhakts.
About The Temple
The Five Faced Hanuman Temple is located at a distance of about 2 km from Rameshwaram Temple and has an idol of Hanuman fully covered in Senthooram (vermillion. In 1964 after the cyclone of Danushkodi, idols of Lord Rama and Goddess Sita were brought from Dhanushkodi and placed in this temple. It is believed that the floating stone used for making the bridge across the sea to Lanka (Sri Lanka) is the same stone that is kept outside this temple floating in a water tank. These stones are oval in shape and have coarse texture with small craters.
The temple is open on all days from 6 am to 7 pm and its proximity to the main Rameshwaram temple means that it is a must have destination in the itinerary of all pilgrims visiting Rameshwaram.
The Story Behind Five Faced Hanuman Temple
The origin of the Five Faced (or panchmukhi) Hanuman can be traced to a story in Ramanayana. When Lord Rama was engaged in the final war with Ravana, Ravana asked Ahiravana, the king of Patala, to take Rama and Lakshmana to Patala Lok. Ahiravana, in the disguise of Vibhishana, the noble brother of Ravana, took Rama and Lakshmana to Patala to kill them.
When Hanuman got to know about this he entered Patala in search of Rama and his brither. There he discovered that the life of Ahiravana was hidden in five lamps which were placed in different directions and Ahiravana could only be killed by extinguishing these five lamps at the same time. To accomplish this, Hanuman took the form of Panchamukha Hanuman and blew out the five lamps in five directions. Along with Hanuman, the other four faces are Hayagriva, Narasimha, Garuda and Varaha.
It is this Five Faced Hanuman idol that is kept in the temple at Rameshwaram.
The five faces of Hanuman also signify the five senses (panch indriyas) over which Hanuman has mastery, as he was a great yogi. They also represent the five elements (wind, water, earth, fire and sky) which are the basis of creation.