The Ramayana has an exciting story about how Lord Rama managed to cross the sea from India to reach the island of Lanka. He wanted to get there to rescue his wife Sita who had been kidnapped by the Demon King Ravana. The story goes that 10 million monkeys, supervised by the monkey architect-engineer Nala, built a bridge from the tip of India to Lanka. They used huge trees, rocks and other material and built it in five days.
If you go to a place named Dhanushkodi at the tip of Pamban Island in India, you will see a broken line of limestone pieces. They go up to Mannar Island belonging to Sri Lanka. Many believe that these limestone shoals, as they are called, are part of the bridge built by the monkey army. It is known as Ram Sethu, and sometimes Nala Sethu. Sethu means ‘bridge’.
Old temple records indicate that the whole ‘bridge’ was above the water level till a huge cyclone in the 15th Century broke it up and parts of it sank.
The area is considered sacred by Hindus. But other religions too feel it is important. In Sri Lanka, there is a mountain with a huge footprint on it. Buddhists believe it is Lord Buddha’s footprint, Hindu’s believe it is Shiva’s. Muslims, Christians and Jews believe it is the footprint of Adam, the first man that God created. And so the Ram Sethu is also known as Adam’s Bridge.
Many studies have been conducted to find out if the limestone shoals were created by nature, or whether someone put them there. No one can say for sure yet. All we know is that the shoals are very, very old. Geologists (who study how the earth was formed) and historians find them very interesting.