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Ram Setu – Myth or Reality

Credits: Charith Gunaratna, Flickr

There’s hardly a soul in India who hasn’t heard of the legendary Ramayana and the countless myths that make for this epic. The tug of war between the good and the evil, where justice prevailed and ‘dharma’ was victorious is a tale passed down several generations. A king turned deity, Lord Ram needs no formal introduction. Neither does his victory against the demon king Ravana. A battle of epic proportions between the Indian king against the Lankan ruler, Ram Setu is the bridge that binds legends. The importance of this bridge is unparalleled for India, and it goes miles when it comes to defining the relationship between India and Sri Lanka. Let’s explore this magnificent myth together! 

Credits: Wikimedia Commons

The tale begins after the abduction of Seeta, Lord Ram’s wife. After Ravana kidnaps her and flies to his Lankan kingdom, Lord Ram is left grasping at straws. A ferocious sea separates him from his wife. His army of Vanaras (apes/monkeys) are left helpless and saddened at their Lord’s dismay. After praying for several days to the god of sea, Lord Ram finally gets his audience.

The God of Sea tells him to build a bridge; every stone should be etched with Lord Ram’s name, and the stones won’t sink. Lord Ram and his army do as they’re instructed, and miraculously, the stones remain afloat, thus helping them to construct the bridge to Lanka. This is the popular myth and the story behind Ram Setu, Setu translating to ‘bridge’. Most of us know this story, however, scientific evidence has cast some new light on this bridge of myths. 

Ram Setu or Adam’s bridge was declared to be man-made by scientists and geologists. After new evidence was provided by NASA, this 30 km long bridge which was constructed 1.2 million years ago, went against the then-popular belief that it was a natural phenomenon, created by the corals. The sea separating India and Sri Lanka is called ‘Seethusamudram’ or the ‘sea of the bridge’.

Till 1480, the bridge was still said to be passable on foot, due to the sea being extremely shallow in that area. However, a storm increased the water level and flooded the channel, sinking the bridge and making it impossible for people to travel by foot. The present-day location of Ram Setu or Adam’s bridge starts from the tip of India’s Pamban bridge and ends at Sri Lanka’s Mannar Island. 

Ram Setu is said to be visible from Dhanushkodhi, a place in Rameswaram in Tamil Nadu. This bridge, although mythical or not, is a long severed tie between India and Sri Lanka. Its importance is unequivocal in establishing the geographical importance of the two countries in ancient times. In Sri Lanka, the Adam’s Bridge is a source of great interest for the tourists, and efforts to establish a shipping channel have already started.

Credits: Charith Gunaratna, Flickr

Despite the not-so-nice aftertaste for the Sri Lankan population when it comes to Ram Setu, it’s undeniable that this geographical or man-made wonder can finally be a positive bridge that connects India and Sri Lanka. Regardless of the outcome, it cannot be denied that this bridge holds tremendous importance for India, and in the coming years, with scientific developments, there might be more concrete evidence to suggest the long and perilous journey our Lord Ram undertook was possible due to this bridge.  

Curated by Yashodhaan Burange