samedi 26 juillet 2014

NW-67. Adam's Bridge (a chain of 16 sand islands between Sri Lanka and India)

Adam's bridge between Sri Lanka and India

Adam's Bridge (Tamil: ஆதாம் பாலம் ātām pālam), also known as Rama's Bridge or Rama Setu (Tamil: இராமர் பாலம் Irāmar pālam, Sanskrit: रामसेतु, rāmasetu),[1] is a chain of limestone shoals, between Pamban Island, also known as Rameswaram Island, off the southeastern coast of Tamil Nadu, India, and Mannar Island, off the northwestern coast of Sri Lanka.

There are 16 sand islands, eight of which are said to belong to Sri Lanka, and the other eight, to India. The maritime boundary is at the middle point (source: Sundays time of Sri Lanka). In 2012, it was reported that on Urumali beach, the Navy has established a small-scale, commercial venture, which allows tourists to take a journey in a naval craft to see the ‘bridge’ for a fee of Rs. 600 per person. No information if this facility remains available in 2014.

Adam's bridge between Sri Lanka and India
The bridge was first mentioned in the ancient Indian Sanskrit epic Ramayana of Valmiki.[7] The name Rama's Bridge or Rama Setu (Sanskrit; setu: bridge) refers to the bridge built by the Vanara (ape men) army of Lord Rama in Hindu theology with instructions from Nala,[8] which he used to reach Lanka and rescue his wife Sita from the Rakshasa king, Ravana.[7] The Ramayana attributes the building of this bridge to Rama in verse 2-22-76, naming it as Setubandhanam, a name that persists until today.
According to Islamic tradition, ‘Adam’ crossed these shoals in order to stand on one leg for 1,000 years on the mountain of Samanala (Adam’s Peak) as a penance for his indiscretion in Eden; hence, the name “Adam’s Bridge”.

The actual ‘bridge’, is about 30 km long. Geological evidence suggests that the 'bridge' is a former land connection between India and Sri Lanka. It was reportedly passable on foot up to the 15th century until storms deepened the channel: temple records seem to say that Rama’s Bridge was completely above sea level until it broke in a cyclone in AD 1480. Certain historical inscriptions, old travel guides, old dictionary references and some old maps have been said to reinforce a religious and geographical belief that this is an ancient man-made bridge. Some Sri Lankan historians have condemned the undertaking as "a gross distortion of Sri Lankan history". A former director of the Geological Survey of India, S. Badrinarayanan, claims that such a natural formation would be impossible. He justifies the same by the presence of a loose sand layer under corals for the entire stretch. Corals normally form above rocks.

Between 1914 and 1964, there was a train and ferry link from mainland India via Dhanushkodi and Talaimannar to Colombo, but this was not resumed after the disastrous damages caused by a cyclone in 1964.

Map of the old liaison by train and ferry