In the earlier parts of the fifteenth century, the present area of the Ramanathapuram district having the taluks Tiruvadanai, Paramakudi, Kamuthi, Mudukulathur, Ramanathapuram and Rameswaram were under the rule of the Pandyas. For a very small period, this area was also under the rule of the Chola Kings when Rajendra Chola brought it under his territory in A.D. 1063. In A.D. 1520, the Nayaks of Vijayanagar Empire took over this area under their control from the Pandiyan dynasty for about two centuries. Marava chieftains-Sethupathis who were Lords under the Kings of the Pandiyan dynasty reigned over this part. In the early eighteenth century, family disputes over succession led to the division of Ramanathapuram. With assistance from the King of Thanjavur in A.D. 1730, one of the chieftains deposed Sethupathy and became the Raja of Sivaganga. Acting upon the drawbacks of the Nayak rules, the local chieftains became independent. Chand Sahib captured Ramanathapuram and in 1741, the area came under the control of the Marathas and then under the Nizam in A.D. 1744. The rule of the Nawabs made displeasure in the mind of those chieftains and they declared the last Nayak as ruler of Pandiya Mandalam against the Nawab in A.D. 1752. By that time, throne of Carnatic had two rivals, Shanda Sahib and Mohamed Ali, and this district formed a part of Carnatic. The British and French supported Chanda Sahib and Mohamed Ali respectively which resulted in a series of conflicts in the southern part of the continent.
The temples of the district of Ramanathapuram are famous centres of religious importance. The temples in this district are visited by a large number of devotees from different parts of Tamil Nadu and various other parts of Indian throughout the year. Some of the most prominent temples in this district are Ramanathaswamy temple, Badrakali Amman temple, Kothandaramasamy temple, etc. The Vishnu temple at Thiruppullani is dedicated to Lord Adi Jaganathaperumal and the temple is situated at a distance of sixty four kilometers from Rameswaram. Situated at a distance of seventy two kilometres from Rameswaram is Uthirakosamangai. At this place an ancient Shiva temple is located, where the presiding deity is carved in Emerald. The annual festival celebrated here is known as `Arudhra` in the month of December. This festival attracts a large number of devotees. Satchi Hanuman temple is another well-known religious place where Lord Hanuman was said to have delivered the good news of the well being of Sita to Lord Rama with an evidance choodamanai (jewel) of Sita. Another temple in this district called the Five-Faced Hanuman temple where Lord Hanuman is adorned with senthooram. The Patham Priya Koil is located in Thiruvetriyur in R.S. Mangalam block of the district. This temple is located over a large area and possesses a big tank. Another major temple of this district is located at a distance of eighty five kilometres from Rameswaram. It is the Veyulugantha Vinayagar Alayam and there is a belief that Lord Ram worshipped Lord Vinayagar in this temple on his journey to Sri Lanka. Apart from the temples there are various other places of religious importance in the district of Ramanathapuram in the Tamil Nadu state. One of the most notable centers of pilgrimage for the believers of Christianity all over the world is Oriyur. It is home to the martyrdom of St. John De Britto, a Portuguese Jesuit famously called `Arul Anandar`. Another place of religious importance in this district is Erwadi which holds the tomb of Sultan Ibrahim Syed Aulia, who came from Arabia through Cannanore, is about eight hundred years old. Pilgrims from countries like Malaysia, Sri Lanka and Singapore visit this tomb. The Santhanakoodu festival is celebrated in February-March at Erwadi attracts thousands of pilgrims every year.