eLanka | A Journey to Mannar and the ‘Dancing Islands’ – 1

“Imagine being on one of those legendary islands of ‘Adams Bridge’ or ‘Rama Setu’ of the Ramayana fame! Many centuries ago, this 30 km stretch was a natural bridge connecting Sri Lanka to the southern tip of India; now, the ocean has reclaimed its own, leaving a only a chain of sprinkled islands. On 9 December 2011, I and a few friends were standing on the second island of the chain of limestone shoals between the Rameshwaran Island, off the south-eastern coast of India’s Tamil Nadu and Mannar Island, off the north-western coast of Sri Lanka. If the legends and folklore regarding Rama, Seetha, Ravana and Hanuman are to be believed, this ‘bridge’ is a critical part of the Sri Lanka’s past. 

The Indian Ocean gently lapped my feet; and the warm sand ‘sucked’ at my feet; yet I walked effortlessly across several small islets, all of which were parts of the second island. Sea gulls swarmed, and marine life was plentiful. The marks of crabs and worms on the sand were everywhere, and fish were jumping out of water. The sand dunes are largely devoid of any vegetation, except for the very rare seedling or juvenile plant and are mostly perpetually dry, as the sea is shallow. 

The setting sun, orange in haze, lit the place up, and the sea breeze was strong. The sailors, who accompanied us, waited patiently, giving us time to be ‘sucked in’ by the ambience of the place; and I am glad that India abandoned the Sethusamudran Project….”

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The following narrative is a personal reflection on a visit I made to Mannar, Sri Lanka, in December 2011, accompanied by three friends. All views expressed are personal, but I have conducted some research, seeking information to add value to my own recollections. I have acknowledged those information sources and the few images obtained on-line.

The historical poem Mahavamsa (‘Great Chronicle’) covers the period from Vijaya’s arrival on the island in 543 BC to the reign of King Mahasena (334-361 CE). It begins with an account of Vijaya (544-505 B.C.) and his ministers landing on Lanka-dvipa on the day of the historical Buddha’s passing (Geiger 1912). The author, a senior Buddhist monk Mahanama, composed the chronicle in Pali during the 5th Century A.D., compiling annals of history that had been maintained by the Buddhist monks in the Mahavihara Monastery in Anuradhapura. According to the chronicler, Mahavamsa was, ‘…compiled for the serene joy and emotion of the pious…’ (Mahavamsa, I.84); hence, it may have overstated some events.

The Chronicle (Mahawamsa Chapter VI.34-47) states that Prince Vijaya, the valiant, and 700 of his followers, were expelled by the King (Vijaya’s father – Sinhabahu, from their Vanga Kingdom, which is West Bengal), as a punishment for evil conduct towards villagers. When I visited West Bengal in 2010, I learnt that the area is thought to be the present-day ‘Singur’, a town in the Gangetic delta. It appears that the expellees, shamed by half-shaven heads, may have sailed from a Gangetic port, crossed the Palk Straits, and arrived in a part of the north-western coastline of Sri Lanka. Mahawamsa states that they landed in an area referred to as ‘Thambapanni’ (also, called ‘Tammanava’ in Sinhalese). 

When the Vijayan immigrants landed from their ships, they sat down wearied, resting their hands upon the ground- and since their hands were reddened by touching the dust of the red earth, that region, and also the island, were named ‘Thambapanni’ (Mahawamsa Chapter VII.36). Thambapanni is clearly located in the Mannar District, although the exact landing location may never be known. 

For many years, I had longed to see the area, which was a ‘no-go’ conflict-zone, since the 1980s. We set out to visit ‘Thambapanni’, Mannar and the ‘Mannar Island’, the peninsular off Sri Lanka’s north-western coastline, on the way to the ‘Dancing Islands’ a series of sand islands that separate, Sri Lanka from India across the Palk Straits (see Figure 1). 

The Mannar peninsular consists of Mannar Town, and smaller townships of Thoddavelli, Talaimannar, Arippu and Pesalai. Being the closest proximity to India, across the Palk Straits, Mannar was caught in the middle of the Civil War for at least three decades, and was a LTTE stronghold. Our retired Brigadier friend: Hiran Halangode, of the Gemunu Watch (1 GW), had once been the Area Commander in-charge of security at Mannar during January to July 2000. 

After the war ended in 2009, the Mannar Island still retains a large Army and Navy presence. We travelled to Mannar via the Mannar-Madawacchiya Road (A14), after spending a night at Anuradhapura. Having been informed of the visit, we were welcomed by the security forces at a number of locations, and assisted through all the checkpoints. However, the alertness of the armed forces did underscore how recent the war was.

On 9th December, 2011, travelling for about 2 hours from Anuradhapura, we arrived at Mannar, and then crossed the causeway to enter the ‘Mannar Island’. The causeway, which is about 3 km long, crosses the Mannar Lagoon and is quite spectacular. 

The surrounding sea is calm and misty. There is salt marsh vegetation on both sides. The Armed Forces are on guard, and have several bunkers by the side of the road. The railway bridge, which had been blown up by the LTTE was visible in the distance.

The road has been re-laid and was in excellent condition. However, Brig. Hiran reminded us of its state in early 2000, during the height of the conflict, when the road had no maintenance al all, and was full of pot-holes. 

We proceeded to Talaimannar for some lunch with the Army at Pesalai. The Armed Forces maintain a strong presence in the Mannar Island, for security reasons.

Our objective was to visit the ‘dancing islands’, the perpetually shifting sandy islands that connect Sri Lanka’s north-western coastline with India (see Plate 2 and Figure 2). 

These sandy islands, between India and Sri Lanka, comprise the renowned “Adam’s Bridge” or Rama’s Bridge (Rama Setu), which were described by Valmiki in the legendary Indian epic Ramayanaya.

I checked on line sources for the origin of the name “Adam’s Bridge”. I didn’t find the original source, but it appears that according to Islamic tradition, ‘Adam’ crossed these shoals in order to stand on one leg for 1,000 years on the mountain of Samnala (Adam’s Peak) as a penance for his indiscretion in Eden. 

In the Ramayana epic, Rama built the bridge, with the assistance of the monkey god Hanuman, to allow passage of his army in the rescue of Sita from a multi-headed demon King – Ravana of Lankadeepa.

The actual ‘Bridge’, which is 18 miles (30 km) long, is a chain of limestone shoals between the Rameshwaran Island, off the south-eastern coast of Tamil Nadu and Mannar Island, off the north-western coast of Sri Lanka (Figure 3).

 

 

 

The bridge separates the Gulf of Mannar (south-west) from the Palk Straits (north-east). Geological evidence suggests that the bridge is a former land connection between India and Sri Lanka.

There are 16 sand islands, eight of which belong to Sri Lanka, and the other eight, to India. It seems that our maritime boundary is at the middle point.

The well-known ferry service, from Talaimannar to Dhanushkody, used to operate through the Palk Straits, until it was suspended in 1983, due to the conflict.

Brig. Halangode reminisced about his visit to the eighth island in 2000, accompanied by the Sri Lanka Navy. On that occasion, he had left from Mannar and had also contacted the Indian coast guard. He narrated how he had hoisted the Sri Lankan National Flag on the eighth island, which is the border of Sri Lanka’s jurisdiction. There is a photograph of the event at his home, showing the eighth island, and his group, standing proudly next to the Sri Lankan flag.

By mid-afternoon, we were at the Urumali beach, which is guarded by the Navy. The Navy has also established a small-scale, commercial venture, which allows tourists to the area, like us, to take a journey in a naval craft to see the ‘Bridge’ for a fee of Rs. 600 per person. You get a Navy escort, life jackets to wear (just sufficient for my increasing girth!), a bottle of water, a packet of nibbles, and a piece of cake in a paper bag, as part of the deal. 

The Navy informed us that presently the tourists are only allowed to go to the second of the sandbanks, referred to as the ‘second island’ and not beyond. All crafts are escorted by a second craft, with a Life Saver crew of young sailors, some of whom are trainee recruits of the Navy. 

The naval Officer’s remark that the sea journey would take 45 minutes in each direction was a bit off the mark; it took only about 25 minutes in each direction!

The journey in the boat was delightful; despite the inevitable drenching that one gets as the craft moves at high speed (30 knots) through the water. It is a must to have your camera well covered, because everything gets dripping wet.
The sailors thankfully knew where we were headed; they had no compass or GPS, and were basically ‘following their noses’.

 

 

As far as we could see, it was just the vast Indian Ocean surrounding us in all directions, and the fast diminishing view of the Mannar coastline, behind us.
Then, all of a sudden the distant series of sand dunes come into view. One is mesmerised by the approaching vista of the sand dunes in the middle of the ocean.
We stopped the boat engines about 200 m short of the second island in shallow water that was only a metre deep. The sailors then jumped off the boats, and dragged the boats onto the sandy shores, so that we could safely disembark.

Imagine being on one of those islands! The sand dunes are mostly perpetually dry (see Plate 3), as the sea in the area is very shallow, being only 1 m to 10 m deep in places. They are largely devoid of any vegetation, except for the very rare seedling or juvenile plant (like a Scaevola – a mangrove species).

Around half past four, the setting sun lit the place up, and the sea breeze was strong. The Indian Ocean gently lapped my feet, as I walked; the warm sand sucked at my feet; yet I crossed several small islets, all of which were parts of the second island. Hundreds of sea gulls swarmed and moved from one islet to the other, as I approached. We saw that marine life was plentiful, as evident by the marks and patterns that crabs and worms had made on the sand, and some fish were jumping out of water.

The sand dunes apparently keep ‘shifting’; hence, the term ‘dancing’ islets. Natural ocean processes were visibly at play, shifting and rolling the sand from one location to another. The series of islets was reportedly passable on foot up to the 15th century until storms deepened the channel. Some historical, temple records found in India apparently state that Rama’s Bridge was completely above sea level until it broke in a cyclone in 1480 A.D!

Brig. Hiran explained that during the height of the conflict, refugees used this route to escape the trauma. People paid good money to be brought in by boats and to be dropped off at certain points, after which they walked across the islands to India, probably stopping and resting at some islands, from time to time.

We spent a memorable 45 minutes on the island, and enjoyed the little snack while chatting away, and being mesmerised by the ambience of the surroundings. We thought the paper bag, in which the snack was provided, was a good idea. But the Styrofoam container which held the small piece of cake was totally excessive; a small paper wrapping would have been much better, perhaps with a printed message – please return all litter back to the main shore. A similar message could be emphasised to all visitors, as part of an ‘induction’ at the beginning of the journey.
At some shoreline edges, the sand, mixed with some sort of clay, stuck to our feet and slippers; this could not be washed off, but had to be rubbed off. The sand was also tinged strongly black with ilmenite, the iron-black, titanium-containing mineral.

By about 5:00 pm, we returned to the Urumali beach. Again, the Navy crafts were efficient; the sailors extremely courteous. The return trip drenched us completely as the sea was choppy that afternoon, and the craft, moving at speed, ‘rolled’ with the waves. As we approached the beach, the young sailors revved up the motor, taking all of us by surprise when we saw the beach ‘coming at us’ at high speed! When we disembarked safely, the sailors explained: this is the ‘practical’ method of getting the boat high-up as possible on the beach, so that it can be relatively easily hauled further up.

Before we left, we chatted with the Naval Officers and the sailors, who were doing a fantastic job. Our feedback, particularly on the ‘food packaging’, was likely appreciated. They all appeared to be happy and cheerful, despite living in some ordinary-looking lodgings (some dwellings looked like simple huts or sheds). I felt elated that our coastline was being looked after in this way, and the Navy must be congratulated for the job they are doing.

We must also thank ‘God’ for India abandoning the Sethusamudram Canal Project! 

 

Imagine what would have happened if India’s “Sethusamudram Project” idea had gone ahead! The somewhat atrocious suggestion from a senior Indian naval strategist was that a “shipping by-pass” should be constructed through ‘Adam’s Bridge’ by dredging the Gulf of Mannar straits. This would allow ships to get across the Mannar Straits to Bay of Bengal by a shorter distance.

As pointed out by Sivaram (2004), writing as ‘Taraki’ in the Daily Mirror, if it went ahead, the Sethusamudram Project would have given India a firm grip on one of the world’s most strategic and busiest sea-lanes. All the Middle East’s oil supplies are shipped from ports in the Red Sea or the Persian Gulf to Southeast and East Asia through the sea lanes that converge in the Arabian Sea and then pass through the Gulf of Mannar and curve off the western, southern and south-eastern coast of Sri Lanka. This sea-lane then turns northeast through the Bay of Bengal towards the Malacca Strait (see Figure 4).

 

It is easy to understand why the Indian naval strategists would want this project to occur. It appears that 80% of Japan’s oil supplies and 60% of China’s oil supplies are shipped on this sea-lane. Almost half of the world’s container traffic also passes through the choke points of this sea-lane and its branches in the Indian Ocean. If India paid for the by-pass, it would eventually give India remarkable leverage in its relations with China, Japan and the US. 

Without putting too much emphasis on geo-politics, advantages of the Sethusamudram Project have been hailed in India mostly on economic grounds as obtaining ”…a navigable sea route, reducing travel distance between the western and eastern coasts of peninsular India by about 350 nautical miles – avoiding having to circle about the island of Sri Lanka…”. The Tamil Nadu Government has steadfastly supported the Project, announcing that it would build 13 sea ports and fishing harbours around the south-eastern and south-western coastline, to support shipping and fishing industries.

Critics of the proposed project point out the lack of need of a sea route between the western and eastern coasts of India in the first place, as it is much cheaper in terms of money as well as time to simply transport goods through land on the Indian peninsula. 

Apart from these criticisms, the Project was controversial as most Hindus hold the ‘Ram Setu‘ as a sacred structure and oppose any Project that will damage and desecrate it. The Web Site promoting the Project (see http://sethusamudram.info/content/blogsection/6/33/) says “…Epics should be read as epics, not as authentic histories…”

Ironically, there has been little debate on rational grounds on the substantive, critical issues involved: namely, the questionable economic viability of the canal, and the environmental destruction its construction is likely to cause. Historians, geologists, and marine scientists have said that the Ram Setu cannot be considered a man-made entity, in the absence of material evidence. Responding to this India’s Bharatya Janatha Party (BJP) railed, claiming that any denial of God Rama’s existence constitutes “blasphemy and an insult to the Hindus“. 

The known biodiversity values of the straits (extensive whale and fish populations and other marine resources) are so important in the region. It is difficult to believe that the environmental impact that might have resulted from the proposed dredging of the entire straits to make it navigable by large ships would not have been immense.

However, I am glad that the Project has been stultified, largely due to the politics being played out in India. Wearing my ‘environmental scientist’ hat, I remind myself that we are supposed to evaluate very rigorously all projects from the point of view of: Environmental, Social and Economic benefits; not just evaluate for the sake of evaluation, but base the developmental decisions also on the true findings. Religious beliefs – one could argue- fall within the “social” realm. So, I am not disappointed. In fact, despite being a Buddhist-atheist, I ‘thank God’ with all my heart!

Whilst all of this was played out, Sri Lanka, deeply buried in the conflict, had very little time to be involved and kept away from the controversy to a large extent. 

It is also interesting to note that in this controversy, the Tamil Nadu folk version of the legendary story celebrates Ravana as a hero and Rama as the villain who treated women unfairly! It appears that in the Tamil version of Ramayana, the Kamba Ramayanam, Ravana is highly venerated as a Vedic scholar, a connoisseur of music, a warrior—as an epitome of everything moral. In short, Ravana is a tragic hero, not a villain. Wasn’t he supposed to be Lankadeepa’s demonic “Yakka King”? I do wonder.

Mannar (Manthota) and Talaimannar

The Mannar District, in the North-West of Sri Lanka (see map in Figure 1), is surrounded by Puttalam District in the South, Anuradhapura District in the South-East, Vavuniya District in the East, Mullaitivu District in the North East, Kilinochchi District in the North and the long coastal area in the Western Part of the District. Talaimannar is 27 km from Mannar.

 

Due to the 30 years of conflict, the economic infrastructure in Mannar is in a very run-down state. However, re-building has commenced, and there is evidence of re-construction everywhere. 

Japanese aid, through the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) has funded the improvements in transport infrastructure in the Mannar District, which included the new Mannar bridge, and the causeway (see Plate 4). 

It is estimated that the new Mannar bridge, re-built at a cost of $ 19 million, will benefit over 50,000 people as it is the only connection between the mainland and Mannar island. 

 

 

The ancient port of Mannar was known as Mahaota, Mantota, and Mahatheetha in Sanskrit, which means the ‘great port’. The Tamil names by which the port has been referred to include Mathoddam or Manthai (Tamil = Mango Gardens). The Mannar Port (We did not quite see it) is steeped in Sri Lanka’s history. According to the Mahawamsa, the Mantota was in use fairly soon after Vijaya established himself as the leader in the area, founded the city of Thambapanni and dwelt there, together with Kuveni. 

During the consecration of Vijaya (see Mahawanmsa, Chapter VII), he required a queen to be ‘imported’ from India. The chronicle states that the daughter of the King of Madura (present day Madurai, south of Chennai) was sent as a queen for Vijaya, along with a large number of other ladies, who were betrothed to Vijaya’s men. 

If we are to accept the Mahawamsa’s recording of the ancient events, which occurred 2400 years ago around the area of Mannar Island, what a genetic mixture the “Sinhala” Race must be! The origins of the “Sinhalese” race must be intricately linked to the West Bengali Prince Vijaya and his men, marrying and mixing with Tamils from South India.

 
In Talaimannar, the landscape is largely sandy and the terrain is flat. The climate is hot and humid, and breezes or hot winds are common. We drove past large areas of scrub jungle, salt-marsh vegetation, rice-fields and extensuive groves of Palmyrah (Borassus flabellifer). 

Just like Coconut trees (Cocos nucifera) dominate the vegetation in many areas of Sri Lanka, the Palmyrah (Plate 5) is an iconic tree that characterises the dry zone vegetation of northern Sri Lanka. In the Mannar District, the groves of Coconuts and Palmyrahs are often seen in associations, in amongst large tracts of rice-fields. 

Mannar Fort

The Mannar Fort, not far away from the causeway that connects Mannar with the Mannar Island, has been built by the Portuguese in 1560. The Portuguese surrendered the Fort to the Dutch on 22 February 1658; the fort was rebuilt by them in 1686. On 5 October 1795 the Dutch surrendered to the British (See Marco Ramerini’ Website: www.colonialvoyage.com). 

We were in for a rude shock when we saw its decayed, dilapidated state. Trees were growing through and many sections and walls were crumbling. There was evidence of relatively new plastering, which indicated recent efforts at restoration, but they appeared crude and fultile.

The conflict in Sri Lanka dominated this landscape for three decades, and ensured that no attention had been paid to this historical icon. In fact it had been used (or abused) by the LTTE separatists, and possibly used by the Armed Forces as well, at various stages of the war. When we visited, there were some occupants in a section of the Fort; apparently they were the Police! (We did see a Police motorbike leave). 

The internet does not have a great deal of information on the Mannar Fort. It’s likely that the information I was seeking is buried in literary texts on the Colonial Period, and Sri Lankan archival records. Certain nationalist elements suggest that we should forget our colonial past. In my view, this is an unjustifiable and untenable position, when moving forward as a Country. All societies learn from history, and grow with those learnings. Mannar and the Mannar Island are not just part of the authentic history of the Sinhala race, but are also amongst the earliest territories of the Portuguese (by mid-1500s), and then of the Dutch (by 1660s). 

Perhaps, one day the Fort could be restored to a reasonable state. My first thought was that Sri Lanka’s Cultural Ministry should seek funds from the Dutch Government to restore the Fort. Needless to say, it should be done with a proper archaeological study, possibly with some input from Dutch architects, followed by serious restoration planning and implementation controls. 

Arippu

Having left Mannar, travelling south along the north-western coastline, we visited Arippu, which I believe is an extremely important village or area in Sri Lanka’s history (see Figure 5). Robert Knox, the famous British prisoner of the Kandy King during a nineteen year period (1660 to 1679), finally escaped by reaching the Dutch-administered territory of Mannar, through Anuradhapura and presumably, along Malwatu Oya. 

Knox reached the Dutch Fort at Arippu after walking through thick jungle infested with wildlife (Wilpattu!) on a Sunday in October 1679 and stayed there for several days, recovering, before he was transferred to the Mannar Fort, and eventually, by ship to Colombo. His vivid 1681 account of the arduous escape that he undertook provides first hand insights into what the terrain, including the Wilpattu jungles and area was like – from Anuradhapura to the north-central coastline, at that time. Knox’s book is must read for all Sri Lankans, to gain a better understanding of life in general in the island 400 years ago. Unfortunately, we did not see the ruins of the Arippu Fort or the Lighthouse. Nor did we get a chance to see the Arippu Seaport.

In an informative article, by M.U.A. Tennekoon, published in the Island in December 2010 (see Reference, which I found online) draws attention to the special interests the British Administration had at Arippu, which lasted until the second half of the 19th century. This was due to Arippu’s role as the main seaport that was used for the importation of ‘indentured labourers’ from India to work in Sri Lanka’s Tea plantations. 

R.W. Ievers, a Government Agent of the North Central Province (NCP) during the early 1890s has given authentic descriptions of the status of Arippu in his book, Manuals of the North Central Province, published by the Government Printer in 1899. Apparently, Ievers’ manuals give vivid descriptions of the hardships suffered by the indentured South Indian 

Tamil labourers after disembarkation at Arippu, and the trials and tribulations they were subjected to in their long march from Arippu to the central highlands through Wilachchiya, Medawachchiya, Rambewa, Kekirawa, Dambulla, Naula and Matale.

I have not had a chance yet to read this material, but it appears that many wayside Sinhalese villages in the Mannar District and the NCP were wiped out by cholera epidemics, a likely consequence of large numbers of sick Indian labourers disembarking at Arippu, who were marched through those villages. As a result, it seems that many ancestral villages were abandoned and Sinhalese people moved far in to the jungles to escape the cholera epidemic and establish safe, new settlements. As Tennekoon (2010) points out, villagers in the NCP paid a high price for the development of plantation agriculture in the Hill Country under the British colonial rule. The untold sufferings of the Tamil labourers (ancestors of today’s plantation workers in the up-country) during this long march must be frightful. 

In his article, Tennekoon (2010) praises the mapping done in the 20th century by the Survey Department, which was established under the British administration. According to him, the Survey Department produced and published ‘…some of the finest topographical surveys and various maps of the island, including the one-inch-to-one mile scaled topographical sheets…’ In many of the maps Arippu is located and named. If not for this, by now, nobody would know where the ancient seaport of Arippu was. 

Personally, I had been aware of what the Survey Department did, and how dedicated they were; I grew up watching and listening to stories of map-making as my father was a Senior Draftsman (Map-maker) at the Survey Department. He retired in mid-1980s as Chief-Drawing Office Assistant (DOA), the Head of Draftsmen of the Survey Department. Well-trained in the job they did, he was so proud of the map-makers. 

“The Doric” Building

At Arippu, we visited an early 19th century building, ‘The Doric’, a residence of the first British Governor of Ceylon: Fredrick North (1798-1805), the 5th Earl of Guildford (He was the younger son of a British Prime Minister also of the same name Fredrick North, 2nd Earl of Guildford, usually referred to as Lord North). 

Perched on a cliff, about 1.5 km south of Arippu’s port (or estuary) and facing the Indian Ocean, many of Doric’s columns and structures are fast succumbing to the power of the continually changing ocean currents and sea erosion. Shifting sands and, at times, fierce north-westerly winds, blowing from the Palk Straits wreak havoc on the remaining ruins. The building was crumbling in front of our eyes!

A scholarly article on ‘The Doric’ by Dhanesh Wisumperuma (Wisumperuma, 2005), which I found online, is also a must read. The article enlightens us with a fascinating account on the history of the building and conflicting (and confusing) views regarding its plausible history. It also provides copies of early drawings of what the two storey mansion, based on Greek Architecture, looked like. The author explains that ‘Doric’ is one of the three column types of Ancient Greek Architecture. 

A Journey to Mannar and the ‘Dancing Islands’ - 1As the signboard at the site reads, the Governor’s residence was built on a low cliff at a stone’s throw distance from the then prevailing beach (see Plate 5). 

Extant records indicate that ‘The Doric’ was built by Sir Frederick North as his residence during visits to the pearl fishing that took place in Kondachchi near Arippu. 

The mansion, completed in 1804, had four bedrooms, a large dining hall, a staircase leading to the upstairs of the mansion from the central hall and many other utility areas.

 

 

It had been used by a few successive governors, government agents, and other officials, including superintendents of pearl fishery. Despite its historical significance, the Doric is now a building in ruins, in a state of complete dilapidation. Abandoned afterwards, The Doric has decayed over time owing to extreme climatic conditions and lack of maintenance and repairs (Wisumperuma, 2005). 

Centuries of sea erosion has not only eroded that land space between the then beach and the mansion, but it has caved in the very basement of the building, making a half of it to collapse in to the sea. The process is still continuing unabated. As Tennekoon (2010) quite rightly points out, not just the Doric, but the whole Arippu village itself is largely forgotten! 

Tennekoon’s article provides other interesting facts of the site – It appears that a part of foundation, very near the Governor’s Bungalow, was of a building that might have been used by the Governor to address the native pearl fishermen. 

Further inland from the Bungalow, the remains of a partially destroyed small Chapel points to the Governor spending considerable and continuous periods of time, possibly the entire pearl fishing season of about seven months of the year at this residence, until the onset of the rough southwest monsoon in May (Tennekoon, 2010).

References

AmazingSriLanka.com; http://amazinglanka.com/tanks/yoda-mannar/index.php

Encylopaedia Brittanica (2007). “Adam’s bridge”.2007. Retrieved 2007-09-14.

Geiger, W., 1912, The Mahavamsa: The Great Chronicle of Ceylon, Buddhist Cultural Centre, Colombo.

Knox, Robert (1681) An Historical Relation of the Island of Ceylon. Chiswell Publishers, London. (Sinhala Translation: “Eda Hela Diva” by David Karunaratne; first published in Sri Lanka in 1958; reprinted by M.D. Gunasena & Co.).

Ramerini M. (undated). Colonialvoyage.com; http://www.colonialvoyage.com/eng/asia/sri_lanka/
remains.html
.

Tennekoon, M.U.A. (2010). Arippu: The Abandoned Ancient Seaport, Ruined and Forgotten. The Island, 10 Dec 2010. http://www.island.lk/index.php?page_cat=article-details&page=article-details&code_title=13116 (Accessed 10 Jan 2011). 

Sivaram, Dharmeratnam (2004). Geo-Strategic Implications of Sethusamudram. Daily Mirror, 6 October 2004 (http://tamilnation.co/forum/sivaram/041006.htm).

Wisumperuma, D. (2005). The Doric at Arippu: Its Date and Identification. Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society of Sri Lanka, Vol 51: 79-96.

 



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