Adam's Bridge, which separates the Gulf of Mannar from the Palk Strait, is a string of sand islands, that once connected Talaimannar to Rameswaram Island in India.
The town of Mannar
is quickly becoming a reputable tourist destination, thanks to a range of beautiful sites and attractions in the area. Adam's Bridge is one of them. Not too far from Mannar town, at the end of the Medawachchiya-Talaimannar Highway in Talaimannar, you'll find a small Sri Lankan navy complex near the Old Pier and the Talaimannar lighthouse. It is from here that the Sri Lankan Navy operate public boat tours to Adam's Bridge. If the weather conditions are ok and the sea is not too rough, the navy operates the service from 8am to 4pm, every day.
The morning time is the best to take the tour, before the sun is too hot, and while the sea is calmer - we took the boat trip around 9.30 am and by the time we were out to sea, it was getting hot and steamy. We boarded our small boat with just two of us, and two navy personnel, who were polite and more than accommodating. We were given all that we needed, a dry, safe place to keep our valuables, life jackets plus a paper carry-bag with food (peanuts and chocolate), drinks (milk packet and bottled water) and tour brochure.
As the boat took us south towards the sandy islands, we watched as Rameswaram Island (India), drew closer, and I realised just how close the two nations are. Less than 50 kilometres separates India from Sri Lanka. The boat took us around a few of the islands, including one that is especially designated for birds like gulls and terns, of which there were hundreds! All together the tour takes you about 15 kilometres out to sea and usually takes about three hours, including a stopover on one of the islands where you bathe in the crystal clear waters, providing there are no stingers at the time. After an hour or so in the boat, and a stroll around the island in the hot sun, a swim in the sea is just what you need!
There's no development on the islands, except for one small, wooden hut. The landscape is simply breathtaking. Small waves breaking on the white sands, shallow ponds of salty water, and sand grasses with beautiful flowers. Though the boat broke down twice, we didn't have to wait long before another 'rescue' boat arrived to help get us going again.
For those seeking thrills, established tourist facilities or luxuries, this probably isn't the best tour for you. But for nature lovers and those in search of a unique experience in a largely undiscovered place, a tour to Adam's Bridge is perfect. For just Rs. 600 for a three hour tour to such a beautiful part of the country, we think it's great value.
Don't forget to take your bathers, and good sun protection; with the heat, and the reflection from the water, you'll need both. It's worthwhile to contact the Navy at Talaimannar before planning your boat trip – tours are not provided in rough seas. Construction of the railway line to Talaimannar is near completion, which means that soon,people will once again be able to travel easily from Colombo to Talaimannar by train. There are also talks of the ferry service from Talaimannar to Rameswaram Island (India) resuming in the near future.