We are in Sri Lanka. This island nation is separated from southeastern India by the Palk Strait, a 40-mile-wide stretch of sea named for Robert Palk, a governor of Madras in British India.
Yes. Sri Lanka is an island, or at least that’s what they want you to think. The 18-mile gap (about 29 kilometers) between it and India is filled with shoals and sandbanks, that religious tradition holds are the remains of a bridge built by Rama, an avatar of Vishnu, the same character who ordered to build a bridge that connected India to Sri Lanka starting from the city of Dhanushkodi, exactly opposite. Do you remenber? Dhanushkhodi became a ghost town after a devastating 1964 storm that killed 1,800 people in the region. Actually, some scientists now believe that the clerics might have reason.
A thin strand of shoals, some only feet below the sea, stretch from India to Sri Lanka. The British Empire made a sort of steampunk Chunnel, going from rail to steamship, a century ago.
The rationale for the project was that such a channel would avoid circumnavigation of Sri Lanka (of an additional distance of over 400 km) in the voyage between the east and west coasts of India.
However, plans to blast open the rocks for shipping have run aground on something unexpected: the so called Adam’s Bridge or Ram Setu.
Ram Sethu and Adam’s Bridge are names derived from Hindu and Islamic mythologies respectively, the former from the epic Ramayana wherein Rama (venerated as God by Hindus) is supposed to have built this bridge with the help of his allies (the Vanara Sena) to reach Lanka and rescue his abducted wife Sita, thus giving rise to the belief among Hindus that the island chain is man-made. According to the Islamic account, Adam used the bridge to reach Adam’s Peak in Sri Lanka where he stood in repentance for 1,000 years. An Islamic tradition tell that the Garden of Eden was located in Sri Lanka. Sri Pada, a Sri Lankan mountain with a footprint-shaped mark at its peak, is often called Adam’s Peak, and is identified with the place where the first man fell to Earth after his expulsion from Eden. (In several Muslim hadiths, Adam is described as standing 60 cubits tall, about 27 meters, which explains his giant footprint.) Adam’s Bridge, then, was the path he took as he journeyed to mainland Asia.
Religious Hindus also believe it to be a relic from the Ramayana epic. The story goes that Rama set an army of monkeys to work building a bridge to the island redoubt of the demon king Ravana. The Indian end of Ram Sethu, near the town of Rameswaram, is one of the holiest places in Hinduism and a popular pilgrimage site. Of course, It may sound far-fetched in current days, but there are records from as late as the Medieval era that describe an international walking path. So, India’s ruling party has refused to permit construction of the shipping channel.
Satellite imagery is clear: a filament connects the landmasses just under the surface. Photographs or videos aren’t enough to make any case closed. Religion or obstruction, history or legend, it’s matter of opinion, but the underwater land link is really there.
By India’s official count, Adam’s Bridge consists of 103 tiny reefs and sandbanks that curve gracefully toward the northwestern tip of Sri Lanka. At low tide, many emerge from the waves, and the annals of a nearby temple say that the chain was an unbroken causeway until, it seems, it was destroyed by a fierce tropical storm in 1480.
Lot of tour agencies have taken advantage of the barely submerged islands, putting the rocky outcroppings on the “Rama Trail” of Sri Lanka’s Hindu legacy.
Images from Web.