Palk Strait
Palk Strait is a strait
A strait or straits is a narrow, typically navigable channel of water that connects two larger, navigable bodies of water. It most commonly refers to a channel of water that lies between two land masses, but it may also refer to a navigable channel through a body of water that is otherwise not...

 between the Tamil Nadu
Tamil Nadu
Tamil Nadu is one of the 28 states of India. Its capital and largest city is Chennai. Tamil Nadu lies in the southernmost part of the Indian Peninsula and is bordered by the union territory of Pondicherry, and the states of Kerala, Karnataka, and Andhra Pradesh...

States and territories of India
India is a federal union of states comprising twenty-eight states and seven union territories. The states and territories are further subdivided into districts and so on.-List of states and territories:...

 of India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

 and the Mannar district
Mannar District
Mannar district is one of the 25 administrative districts of Sri Lanka. The district is administered by a District Secretariat headed by a District Secretary appointed by the central government of Sri Lanka. The headquarters is located in Mannar, Sri Lanka...

 of the Northern Province
Northern Province, Sri Lanka
The Northern Province is one of the 9 provinces of Sri Lanka. The provinces have existed since the 19th century but did not have any legal status until 1987 when the 13th Amendment to the 1978 Constitution of Sri Lanka established provincial councils. Between 1988 and 2006 the province was...

 of the island nation
Island nation
An island country is a state whose primary territory consists of one or more islands or parts of islands. As of 2011, 47 of the 193 UN member states are island countries.-Politics:...

 of Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka, officially the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka is a country off the southern coast of the Indian subcontinent. Known until 1972 as Ceylon , Sri Lanka is an island surrounded by the Indian Ocean, the Gulf of Mannar and the Palk Strait, and lies in the vicinity of India and the...

. It connects the Bay of Bengal
Bay of Bengal
The Bay of Bengal , the largest bay in the world, forms the northeastern part of the Indian Ocean. It resembles a triangle in shape, and is bordered mostly by the Eastern Coast of India, southern coast of Bangladesh and Sri Lanka to the west and Burma and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands to the...

 in the northeast with the Palk Bay and thence with the Gulf of Mannar
Gulf of Mannar
The Gulf of Mannar is a large shallow bay forming part of the Laccadive Sea in the Indian Ocean. It lies between the southeastern tip of India and the west coast of Sri Lanka. A chain of low islands and reefs known as Adam's Bridge, also called Ramsethu, which includes Mannar Island, separates the...

 in the southwest. The strait is 33 to 50 mi (53.1 to 80.5 km) wide. Several rivers flow into it, including the Vaigai River
Vaigai River
The Vaigai is a river in Madurai, Tamil Nadu state of southern India. It originates in the Periyar Plateau of the Western Ghats range, and flows northeast through the Kambam Valley, which lies between the Palni Hills to the north and the Varushanad Hills to the south. The Vattaparai Falls are...

 of Tamil Nadu. The strait is named after Robert Palk
Robert Palk
Sir Robert Palk, 1st Baronet was an English cleric and politician. He is mostly known for his involvement with the British East India Company and his term as governor of the Madras Presidency.-Early life:...

, who was a governor of Madras Presidency
Madras Presidency
The Madras Presidency , officially the Presidency of Fort St. George and also known as Madras Province, was an administrative subdivision of British India...

 (1755-1763) during the Company Raj period.


It is studded at its southern end with a chain
An archipelago , sometimes called an island group, is a chain or cluster of islands. The word archipelago is derived from the Greek ἄρχι- – arkhi- and πέλαγος – pélagos through the Italian arcipelago...

 of low islands and reef
In nautical terminology, a reef is a rock, sandbar, or other feature lying beneath the surface of the water ....

 shoals that are collectively called Adam's Bridge (or the original name Rama
Rama or full name Ramachandra is considered to be the seventh avatar of Vishnu in Hinduism, and a king of Ayodhya in ancient Indian...

's Bridge). This chain extends between Dhanushkodi on Pamban Island
Pamban Island
Pamban Island , also known as Rameswaram Island, is an island located between peninsular India and Sri Lanka. The island is a part of India and is governed by the administration of Ramanathapuram district of the state of Tamil Nadu...

 (also known as Rameswaram Island) in Tamil Nadu and Mannar Island
Mannar Island
Mannar Island, formerly called Manar Island, is part of Mannar District, Sri Lanka. It is linked to the rest of Sri Lanka by a causeway.It has an area of about 50 square kilometres, mainly covered with vegetation and sand.Rama's Bridge or Rama Setu ,[1] is a chain of limestone shoals, between...

 in Sri Lanka. The island of Rameswaram is linked to the Indian mainland by the Pamban Bridge
Pamban Bridge
The Pamban Bridge is a cantilever bridge on the Palk Strait connects Rameswaram on Pamban Island to mainland India. It refers to both the road bridge and the cantilever railway bridge, though primarily it means the latter. It was India's first sea bridge...



As from 1914, there used to be regular trains from Madras/Chennai to Dhanushkodi, a ferry to Talaimannar
Talaimannar is a settlement in Sri Lanka located on the northwestern coast of Mannar Island.- Transport :Prior to the severe destructions by a cyclone in December 1964, it was the terminus of a ferry service to India across the very shallow Palk Bay...

 on Mannar Island, and thence a train to Colombo
Colombo is the largest city of Sri Lanka. It is located on the west coast of the island and adjacent to Sri Jayawardenapura Kotte, the capital of Sri Lanka. Colombo is often referred to as the capital of the country, since Sri Jayawardenapura Kotte is a satellite city of Colombo...

. In 1964, a cyclone
In meteorology, a cyclone is an area of closed, circular fluid motion rotating in the same direction as the Earth. This is usually characterized by inward spiraling winds that rotate anticlockwise in the Northern Hemisphere and clockwise in the Southern Hemisphere of the Earth. Most large-scale...

 destroyed Dhanushkodi and the railway and caused severe damage along the shores of Palk Strait and Palk Bay. Dhanushkodi was not rebuilt and the railway from Talaimannar to Mahawilachchiya in Sri Lanka was given up. There was a ferry between small piers in Rameswaram and Talaimannar, but this was discontinued till date.

Proposed canal

The shallow waters and reefs of the strait make it difficult for large ships to pass through, although fishing boats and small craft carrying coastal trade have navigated the strait for centuries. Large ships must travel around Sri Lanka. Construction of a shipping canal through the strait was first proposed to the British government of India in 1860, and a number of commissions have studied the proposal up to the present day. The most recent study of the Sethusamudram Shipping Canal Project
Sethusamudram Shipping Canal Project
Sethusamudram Ship Channel Project proposes linking the Palk Bay and the Gulf of Mannar between India and Sri Lanka by creating a shipping channel through the shallow sea sometimes called Setu Samudram, and through the chain of islands variously known as Ramar Palam , ram sethu and Adam's Bridge...

, as it is now called, was an environmental impact assessment
Environmental impact assessment
An environmental impact assessment is an assessment of the possible positive or negative impact that a proposed project may have on the environment, together consisting of the natural, social and economic aspects....

 and a technical feasibility study
Feasibility study
Feasibility studies aim to objectively and rationally uncover the strengths and weaknesses of the existing business or proposed venture, opportunities and threats as presented by the environment, the resources required to carry through, and ultimately the prospects for success. In its simplest...

 commissioned by the Tamil Nadu government in 2004.

However, the plan encountered opposition from various religious circles. The Indian epic poem
Indian epic poetry
Indian epic poetry is the epic poetry written in the Indian subcontinent, traditionally called Kavya . The Ramayana and Mahabharata, originally composed in Sanskrit and translated thereafter into many other Indian languages, are some of the oldest surviving epic poems on earth and form part of...

The Ramayana is an ancient Sanskrit epic. It is ascribed to the Hindu sage Valmiki and forms an important part of the Hindu canon , considered to be itihāsa. The Ramayana is one of the two great epics of India and Nepal, the other being the Mahabharata...

, written thousands of years ago in Sanskrit
Sanskrit , is a historical Indo-Aryan language and the primary liturgical language of Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism.Buddhism: besides Pali, see Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit Today, it is listed as one of the 22 scheduled languages of India and is an official language of the state of Uttarakhand...

 and an important Hindu text
Hindu scripture
The Literature regarded as central to the Vedic and Hindu literary tradition was originally predominantly composed in Sanskrit. Indeed, much of the morphology inherent in the learning of Sanskrit is inextricably linked to study of the Vedas and other early texts....

, recounts how Rama
Rama or full name Ramachandra is considered to be the seventh avatar of Vishnu in Hinduism, and a king of Ayodhya in ancient Indian...

, with the help of an army of vanara
Vānara popularly refers to a group of ape-like humanoids in the Hindu epic Ramayana who were brave and inquisitive by nature. They possessed supernatural powers and could change their shapes...

s, built a bridge of stones across the sea to Lanka
Sri Lanka is the name given in Hindu mythology to the island fortress capital of the legendary king Ravana in the great Hindu epics, the Ramayana and the Mahabharata...

 to rescue his wife Sita
SITA is a multinational information technology company specialising in providing IT and telecommunication services to the air transport industry...

 from the Asura
-In Hinduism:In Hinduism, the Asuras constitute a group of power-seeking deities, sometimes considered sinful and materialistic. The Daityas and Danavas were combinedly known as Asuras. The Asura were opposed to the Devas. Both groups are children of Kasyapa...

 king Ravana
' is the primary antagonist character of the Hindu legend, the Ramayana; who is the great king of Lanka. In the classic text, he is mainly depicted negatively, kidnapping Rama's wife Sita, to claim vengeance on Rama and his brother Lakshmana for having cut off the nose of his sister...

. The Ram Karmabhoomi
Ram Karmabhoomi
Ram Karmabhoomi is the area composing of Rameshwaram, Dhanushkodi, Adam's Bridge, also known as Rama's Bridge where the Hindu deity Rama is believed to have conducted his fight against Ravana to rescue Sita...

 movement, encouraged by a NASA
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration is the agency of the United States government that is responsible for the nation's civilian space program and for aeronautics and aerospace research...

 satellite photograph of Adam's Bridge, was formed to prevent the shipping canal from being built.

Rahul Gandhi, a leader of the Congress party, sparked controversy by saying that Rama does not exist. This statement was later taken by Congress as 'Current Government said so'. Later the Government of India, in an affidavit in the Supreme Court of India, stated that there was no historical proof of the bridge being built by Rama.

External links

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