India-Sri Lanka shipping lane will break coral bridge ‘built by Hindu god’

Published: February 26, 2013
Adam's Bridge opposition

The Indian government’s ongoing desire to cut a shipping lane through ‘Adam’s Bridge’ has historically caused an uproar among Hindu leaders, as evidenced by this file photo from December 2007 that shows protesters in Hyderabad voicing their opposition to the plan. Noah Seelam/AFP/Getty Images


India is to press ahead with plans to build a deep-water shipping lane to Sri Lanka which will break “Adam’s Bridge,” a coral link between the two land masses which Hindus regard as the work of Ram, the creator of the universe.

The decision provoked uproar in the Indian parliament where MPs from the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party, the main opposition, accused the government of showing “no faith in God” and warning it will block its plans.

According to Hindu scriptures, Adam’s Bridge, or the Ram Sethu, an 18-mile expanse of coral just below the surface of the Gulf of Mannar and Palk Strait, was built by the monkey god Hanuman. He wanted to cross over to Sri Lanka to rescue Sita, wife of Lord Rama, an avatar of the Supreme God Vishnu, after she was kidnapped by the evil king Ravanna.

S.P. Muraleedharan

The distance between India and Sri Lanka is tiny, relatively speaking, given that long-distance swimmer S.P. Muraleedharan from India crossed from one country to the other via the waters of The Palk Strait on March 20, 2012. STRDEL/AFP/Getty Images

Palk Strait

‘Adam’s Bridge’ is illustrated another way in this map. The coral reef runs under the Palk Strait and Gulf Mannar between India (left) and Sri Lanka. Submitted photo/Google Maps

Rama’s defeat of Ravanna is one of Hinduism’s most revered scriptures and represents the triumph of good over evil celebrated in the annual Dussehra festival.

The secular Congress-led government said it disagrees with the opposition and will push ahead with plans to dredge parts of Adam’s Bridge and its sandbanks. This will allow large container ships to pass through and cut 30 hours from the current journey south of Sri Lanka. The project is being overseen by Chennai Port in Tamil Nadu.

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