Ram Setu: bridge of Lord Rama
According to Ramayana, the famous biography of the Hindu god Rama, Ram-Setu is a 49 km long stretch of limestone shoals. It is connecting the Southern part of India, Rameswaram to the Northern part of Sri Lanka. This beautiful bridge is situated over the Indian Ocean.
If legends are to be believed, then this bridge was constructed under the orders of Lord Rama as a passage for his army to enter the land of Ravana. He had kidnapped Lord Rama’s wife Goddess Sita. It is said that this bridge was built by an army of monkeys who were devotees of Lord Hanuman.
This bridge is of high religious significance to the Hindus because of the belief that Lord Rama has built it to save his wife. According to the Ramayana, the construction was assisted by Lord Nala who helped him to reach the kingdom of Lanka. According to the Ramayana, the army had written the word Ram on every stone in order to make it float.
The bridge was valued high by the Britishers during the time they were ruling India. At that time this bridge was named as ‘Adam’s Bridge’. They believed that the bridge was made by Adam to reach the Adam’s Peak. It is believed that he was standing here on one foot for more than 1000 years, because of which he left a huge hollow mark in the shape of a foot print. The Indians never believe this story and called this bridge Ramasetu, Setumandiram or just Setu.
This 49km long bridge that separates the Gulf of Mannar from the Palk Strait, could actually be walked on till the 15th century. According to the temple of Rameshwaram, this bridge was above water until it was destroyed by a cyclone that occurred in AD 1480.
There have been a lot of arguments regarding the existence of this bridge. Some say that it was formed due to the process of accretion which led the land to rise. Others believe that it was formed when the land between SriLanka and India broke due to a natural calamity.
Whereas some studies have calculated the age of the bridge to be somewhere between 125,000 to 3500 years, which is incidentally the age of Lord Rama. In 2003, a team from the Centre for Remote Sensing claimed, that the bridge could be only 3500 years old, proving the above observations false. However we need to keep in mind that the study that was conducted that year was for the corals in the water and not the bridge.
The future of this bridge seems in the dark at the moment. People in the shipping business started to see this bridge as a barrier in their way to success. The depth of the bridge is somewhere between 4ft- 30ft, which makes navigation very difficult. Hence, in 2001, the Indian government agreed on a multi-million Sethusamudram Shipping Canal Project. To start this project the limestone shoals of the Ram SetuBridge would have to be removed. It is said to save up to 360kms and 32 hours of detouring. But then again it holds a religious value in the hearts of a lot of people.
Some people are against this project, whereas some believe that it is very practical. Well this argument can go on for years and years. Therefore, you should definitely visit this magnificent bridge and see for yourself the beauty it holds.