Explore Adam’s Bridge, Sri Lanka
Explore Adam’s Bridge, Sri Lanka
We’ve all heard the saying, “Getting there is half the fun”. But where exactly is “there”? Our Explore series tells you where to go, how to get there, and what to do when you arrive. Happy travelling!
Adam’s Bridge, Mannar, Sri Lanka
Step into the pages of an ancient epic at Adam’s Bridge — a 30 kilometre-long stretch of limestone shoals that stretches between India’s Dhanuskody and the Mannar island in Sri Lanka. The history associated with this bridge, also known as Rama Setu or Rama’s Bridge, is literally of mythical proportions. It is believed to have been built by Lord Hanuman and the vanar sena to help Lord Ram cross the mighty Indian Ocean into Ravana’s Lanka.
A deserted lighthouse, straight out of Richard Bach’s Jonathan Livingston Seagull, marks the start of the bridge in Mannar and further adds to the aura of mystery surrounding the ancient landmark. Adam’s Bridge has become an integral part of the Ramayana trail, started by travel agencies across Sri Lanka to help tourists visit spots significant to the epic. It was perfectly passable till violent cyclones in the 15th century deepened the channel. Today, one has to take a navy boat to one of the shoals to view the bridge.
The Bridge Of The Sea
The West woke up to the mysteries of Adam’s Bridge in the 9th century when Persian geographer, Ibn Khordadbeh, referred to it is as the Set Bandhai or “The Bridge of the Sea” in his Book of Roads and Kingdoms. However, it was first referred to as Adam’s Bridge when a British cartographer prepared a map of the area in the year 1803, basing the name on an Abrahamic myth, according to which Adam used the bridge to reach a mountain in Sri Lanka.
What Makes It Unique
The very fact that myths and legends come alive at this spot makes Adam’s Bridge unique. With the cool ocean breeze wafting around and the seagulls circling over the lighthouse, it’s very easy to visualise the vanar armies crossing in hordes to help Rama vanquish the demon king. Also, the fact that actual age of the bridge is still not fixed adds to its mystique. Investigation by the Centre for Remote Sensing of Bharathidasan University, Tiruchi, dates the structure to 3,500 years while another study of coral samples in the area gives a radiocarbon age of 4,020 plus/minus 160 years.
What To See & Do
#1 Step Into A Legend
Drive down to the abandoned lighthouse and reach headquarters of the navy, which now occupies most of the area and runs boat trips to the bridge. Tourists from across the world line up at the pier to explore limestone shoals that make up those parts of the Adam’s Bridge which belong to Sri Lanka. You could spend time at the sandbanks, chase noisy seagulls or look out for a herd of dugongs, a fast depleting species of marine mammals found in the area.
#2 The Mysterious Baobab Tree Of Mannar
The mysteries of Mannar don’t just stop at the Adam’s Bridge. 1.2 kilometres away from the town lies a big, exotic baobab tree, measuring a whopping 19.5 metres in circumference. There are many theories about how this tree, belonging to a species native to Africa and Madagascar, found itself in Sri Lanka. The most popular theory is that it was planted by Arab traders over 700 years ago, much before the Portuguese arrived on the shores of this island nation.
#3 The Land Of Shiva Temples
A centuries old temple, with an imposing gopuram, lies 13 kilometres away from Mannar. This is one of the five legendary Shiva temples found across Sri Lanka, known to protect the island from natural disaster. The Thiruketheeswaram temple and the sacred tank alongside have been venerated in hymns through the ages.
How To Get There
A 30-kilometre-long causeway connects Mannar to the mainland and can be reached by bus or taxi. It is best to take a taxi or a jeep to the start of the Adam’s bridge, with the journey taking you through local temples and the picturesque countryside. You could take a navy boat to the shoals to get a glimpse of history.
Best Time To Visit
Ideally, one should plan a trip to Adam’s Bridge between November and March when the weather has cooled a bit.