Ram Setu was man-made, says Science Channel: All you need to know about prehistoric Adam's Bridge

An American science channel on Tuesday restarted the debate on the Ram Setu, saying that there exists evidence suggesting that the bridge connecting India and Sri Lanka was man-made not natural.

Science Channel, as part of a promo for an upcoming show titled What on Earth, has interviewed an archaeologist who says, "The rocks on top of the sand actually pre-date the sand. So there is more to the story."

This adds credence to the Hindu mythological text in the Ramayana which claims that the Ram Setu bridge was constructed under the guidance of Lord Rama. The bridge currently connects Pamban island in India's Tamil Nadu state with Sri Lanka's Mannar island (which was man-made).

All of this hints that while the sand formation was natural, the rocks (that are said to be 7,000 years old) have been placed there.

The Ram Setu, also known as Adam's Bridge, is wrapped in mystery and mythology. As mentioned in a Hindustan Times report, it's a series of limestone shoals bridging the 30-kilometre gap between India and Sri Lanka across the Gulf of Munnar.

 Ram Setu was man-made, says Science Channel: All you need to know about prehistoric Adams Bridge

An image of the Ram Setu as seen from space. Courtesy: Twitter/@ScienceChannel

Raging debate over Ram Setu

There are different views on the history and legacy of the Ram Setu. One version says that there was a legitimate land connection between India and Sri Lanka during the Ice Age, while another has said that Sri Lanka was part of the mainland Indian sub-continent, and broke away about 1,25,000 years ago. Hindu mythology has it that followers of Lord Rama built the bridge to felicitate the rescue of his kidnapped wife Sita.

A report by News18 said that the depth of the sea in this stretch varies between three feet and 30 feet.

In 2008, the then Congress-led central government told the Supreme Court that there exists no bridge between India and Sri Lanka, and that if Lord Ram built one, he must have also destroyed it later. As reported by The Times of India in July 2008, the Centre acquiesced with ally DMK's position in the Sethusamudram case.

"There is no bridge. It was not a man-made structure. It may be a superman-made structure, but the same superman had destroyed it. That is why for centuries nobody mentioned anything about it. It (Ram Setu) has become an object of worship only recently," the government had said, as per the report.

Sethusamudram shipping canal project

It acquired political prominence when the Indian government planned the Sethusamudram shipping canal project, meant to create a shipping route through the Gulf of Munnar. Ships that currently sail from the West coast of India bound for the eastern hemisphere currently have to circumnavigate Sri Lanka because the Gulf of Munnar is shallow and cannot be used by ships. The Sethusamudram project aims to reduce the distance the ships have to travel.

The News18 report said that this would reduce the distance between India's west and east coasts by about 350 nautical miles, saving about 10-30 hours of sailing time. A bridge would also add to India's exchequer through shipping fees, it was felt.

However, doing so would damage the Adam's Bridge section of the maritime border between India and Sri Lanka. The matter reached the Supreme Court, with several petitions challenging the government's plan of dredging the Ram Setu to construct its shipping channel.

To resolve this dispute, the Indian Council of Historical Research (ICHR) was tasked with researching if the chain of islands were man-made or historic, said a report on The Telegraph. The BJP, which was in the Opposition at the time the project was first conceived, had been opposing it citing people's beliefs that Lord Ram created the path to reach Lanka to rescue Sita and that the islets should be protected.

In March this year, ICHR chairman Y Sudershan Rao said their research could influence the government's plans for the future of the Sethusamudram project. "We will look for material confirmation on whether it was a natural phenomenon or some human efforts were there," Rao was quoted as saying in the report.

The problem, however, Rao said, is that there was a "dark period" in history — between 4th Millennium BC and the 1st Millennium BC, and that they were trying to analyse this period in greater depth.

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Updated Date: Dec 13, 2017 11:21:51 IST