Mannar is world famous ancient town for pearl fishing. As it was mentioned in ”The Periplus of the Erythraean Sea” a Greek 2nd century navigation and trading chart and A French author Jules Verne has written about the area and Ceylon (Sri Lanka) in his science fiction adventure novel, 20,000 leagues under the sea, which was published in 1870 in English. From there onwards the town and the Mannar area went through a lot. Being captured by Portuguese, Dutch and English and also Became a battlefield and held up by LTTE during the civil war. Regardless the colorful past, Mannar is still holding some key features that attract tourists in large numbers.
Adams Bridge, also known as Rama’s Bridge or Rama Sethu, made out of limestone between Rameshwaram (Southeast coast of Tamil Nadu, India) and Mannar. Geologists suggests that this may be a land connection in past between two countries. It is 50Kms long and separates the Gulf of Mannar from the Palk Straight of Northeast. Sea along the bridge is very shallow. Only between 1 to 10 meters in depth in most places which made difficult to navigate through. Ancient records say the bridge was completely above sea level until 1480 when storms broke and deepen it.
Mannar is popular among pilgrims of many religions. The Buddhist temple, Thanthirimale Rajamaha Viharaya which is a surrounded by thick forest and large boulders also in the area. King Devanmpiyatissa was built in 3rd Century BC for Arahath Snagamitta Theri to rest when she was on her way to Anuradhapura. It was developed from small temple to large monastery by the end of the Anuradhapura era. This area was one of the first civilizations in Sri Lanka. The village was built by a minister of King Vijaya called Upatissa, therefore the village was called “Upatissa Gama” at the beginning. Then it has changed as Thivnaka Bamunu Grama and finally to Thanthirimale. King Devanmpiyatissa has chosen the place to plant one of first eight offshoots spring off from Jaya Siri Maha Bodhi.
The Church for Our Lady of Madu is may be the most hallowed Christian monument in Sri Lanka. The Virgin and Child statue brought here in 1670 by Catholics who was fleeing persecution when Protestant Dutch get hold Mannar. The Statue is known for miracles or people believing those. Present church has been dated from 1872. The Madu complex has been served as a refugee camp for those fleeing the civil war. Pilgrims are coming here every day of the year but comes in huge numbers to its annual festivals.
Mannar is famous for its Dutch Fort, Built by Portuguese in 1560 and completed by Dutch in 1658. The interior of the Fort is destroyed by time but its ramparts and bastions are intact. Sea at Mannar has always been an important area for all ancient rulers of Sri Lanka. The Fredrick North, the first British Governor to then Ceylon, Built his mansion called Doric, and converted the Dutch fort in to a bungalow for the officers who managed the pearl fishing business in Mannar.
Thirukketeeswaram Temple is a Hindu temple just 10 Kms East to the Mannar town. It is one of the Pancha Ishwaram, The five historical Shiva temples in Sri Lanka established to protect the country from the natural disasters.
“Baobab” tree or Adansonia tree is a native tree in Africa and Australia. It may have planted in here by the Arab traders. This tree has circumference of 20m and believed to be aged over 700 years.
Even though Mannar Island is not blessed with beautiful stretches of sandy beach, Keeri Beach provides good swimming and enjoyable place. It is located 5 Kms West to Mannar town.
Mannar is a place that heavily beaten by human war since the ancient times. Lately this area was like a ghost town
because of the LTTE activities during civil war. Once nearly forgotten or restricted, Religious, Cultural and Historical place now slowly recovering to where it should be.
Attractions Places & Activities for Tourists Mannar
- Mannar fort
- Baobab Tree Pallimunai
- Keeri Beach
- Shrine of Our Lady of Madhu
- The Doric at Arippu
- Mannar Fort
- Adam’s Bridge
- Yodha Wewa
- Thiruketheeswaram Kovil