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What Connected India & Sri Lanka Till 1480? Rama Setu or Adam’s Bridge?

by Nabjot Kaur

What Connected India & Sri Lanka Till 1480? Rama Setu or Adam’s Bridge?

June 12, 2021

Sri Lanka, originally known as Ceylon until 1972, is a pearl-shaped island country in South Asia. Due to its pearl shape, it has been called The pearl of the Indian Ocean. Sri Lanka is separated from peninsular India through the Palk Strait, an inlet of the Bay of Bengal between northern Sri Lanka and south-eastern India. But did you know that Sri Lanka was connected to India until 1480?

Rama Setu or Adam's Bridge?

According to geological evidence, Sri Lanka was connected to mainland India through Adam’s Bridge, also known as Rama Setu or Rama’s Bridge. Rama Setu bridge or Adam’s Bridge is a long chain (50kms) of  Limestone shoals, stretching from Mannar Island off of the north-western coast of Sri Lanka to Rameshwaram island (Pamban Island) in the south-eastern coast of Tamil Nadu, India. According to the Rameshwaram temple records, until the 15th century, it was passable on foot until a cyclone destroyed it in 1480. The Bridge went below sea level due to this cyclone and many other similar storms. It acted as a link between India and Sri Lanka. The Rama Setu bridge did re-emerge from the sea but as small islands and sea banks, which is far different from the original structure.

ram setu research Image 6 14 01 2021
Sri Lanka is separated from peninsular India through the Palk Strait, an inlet of the Bay of Bengal between northern Sri Lanka and south-eastern India.

Historical analysis suggests that Rama Setu Or Adam’s Bridge is historically mentioned in two books. The first one is Ramayana which is an Indian Sanskrit Epic written by Valmiki. It mentions that God Rama constructed the Bridge with the help of his Vanara Sena (Ape-men Army) to reach Lanka to save his wife Sita Mata from King Rakshasa, Ravana. Present-day Sri Lanka is widely interpreted as the Lanka in Ramayana. However, apart from botanical, geographical and folkloristic evidence, no archaeological evidence has been found. The second historical book which mentions Rama Setu or Adam’s Bridge is “The book of Roads and Kingdoms” by Ibn Khordadbeh. But in this, the Bridge is mentioned as Set Bandhai, which translates to The Bridge of sea. According to early Islamic sources, there was a mountain in Sri Lanka known as Adam’s Peak, supposedly where Adam fell to Earth. Sources explain that Adam crossed from Sri Lanka to India through a bridge after his expulsion from the Garden of Eden, which gave the Bridge its name as “Adam’s Bridge”.

Scientific Structure Formation

With minimum evidence available to date, there’s a lot of confusion surrounding the nature and origin of this structure (Rama Setu or Adam’s Bridge). Its geological evolution consists of the two most prominent theories from the 19th century. The first theory suggests that this Bridge is formed by the rising of the land or by the process of Accretion. While the other theory suggested that the Bridge was formed as Sri Lanka broke away from Mainland India due to a cyclone which further made calcareous ridges breaking into large rectangular blocks of limestone. This might have made those limestone chunks look like it’s constructed by humans.

"Reconstruction of the geological evolution of the island chain is a challenging task and has to be carried out based on circumstantial evidence".

V. Ram Mohan of the Centre of Natural Hazards and Disaster Studies of the University of Madras.

According to volume 23 of the Journal of Geological Society of India, issued on 8 August 1982, the Highland Group is an extremely metamorphosed assemblage of marine deposited volcano-clastic, volcanic and sedimentary rocks which dates back to 3000 Ma (Mega Annum or Millions of Years) through Permobile phase into the evolution of Earth’s crust which later got downfolded, leading to the formation of Highland basin filled with volcanic and marine sediments. While another study suggests that this structure might have formed due to the continuous sand deposition and sedimentation.

Supernatural Plausibility?

Rama Setu or Adam’s Bridge is surrounded by numerous controversies relating to its origin. Many survey authorities logically discard the religious beliefs of it being constructed by Rama. “As the carbon dating of the beaches roughly matches the dates of Ramayana, its link to the epic needs to be explored,” stated S.M.Ramasamy. Apart from this, many National and international scientists have constantly rejected the supernatural explanation related to the origin of Rama Setu or the Adam’s Bridge.

Despite so many studies and theories, the formation of Rama Setu or Adam’s Bridge is still a mystery.

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