Millions of years ago, the supercontinent Pangeia fragmented, generating several subcontinents, until reaching the current 6 continents of the planet. However, a strip of land between India and Sri Lanka, in Asia, has been arousing curiosity about this connection between the two for centuries. This curious passage makes us think that, perhaps, they are in fact – or were, at some point – connected.
THE Rama Bridge or Setubandha, also known as the Adam’s Bridge, is a chain of sandbanks that stretches between the island of Mannar, off the northwest coast of Sri Lanka, to Pamban Island, India. With about 48 km in length, no part of this huge sand bank reaches depths greater than 1.2 m at high tide, being considered a very dangerous place for navigation. Despite this, it is not walkable.
But what is the explanation for the existence of this mysterious bridge? We can find one of the answers in Ramáiana, the Sanskrit epic attributed to the poet Valmiki.
This set of verses tells the story of a prince, Rama de Ayodhya (hence the name Ramáiana, whose translation is “Rama’s journey”). His wife Sita is abducted by the demon Rakshasa, king of Lanca, Ravana. Dating from approximately 500 to 100 BC, Ramadan has an enormous importance in the cultural consciousness of India, being as faithful and solid in popular belief as the bridge itself.
The story begins by telling that Prince Rama lost his right to the throne. During a 14-year exile in the forest, his wife was kidnapped by the demon king, Rakshasa. Rama loved his wife very much and, in order to rescue her, he would need to cross almost 50 km of ocean – and he succeeded, thanks to his army of anthropomorphic (human-like) and literate monkeys.
According to the epic, the monkeys wrote Rama’s name on stones and threw them into the ocean. Gradually, they came together and formed a floating bridge, which allowed the prince to reach the other side and save his beloved. Rama was applauded by the population and won back the right to the throne, being crowned king shortly after his return.
The bridge, however, remained in place for use by the population. Records point out that, until the 15th century, it was actually used for intermittent crossing, which disappeared according to the tide, as indicated by writings kept at the Rameswaram temple in India.
What does science say?
Several studies describe the passage as a chain of bars, coral reefs, sand and even a remnant of a period in which Sri Lanka had detached itself from the mainland of Asia. According to scientists, the geological process that gave rise to it has been attributed to the movement of the earth’s crust, tectonic faults and activity in the mantle.
Other theories claim that, in fact, its emergence is linked to the natural process of sedimentation and the continuous deposition of sand, which forms the coastal strands with the rise in sea level.
Although several speculations have been made, the emergence of the bridge remains a mystery. To this day, it is not possible to determine whether the bridge is a natural structure or was actually made by human (or monkey) hands.