Mannar Island in the Northern Province of Sri Lanka is home to several attractions, and was once said to act as a connection to the southern tip of India. Known for its sunny weather and ancient baobab trees, it was also a key player in the country’s pearling fisheries.
Located on the northeastern tip of Mannar Island, approximately 1.2 kilometers away from the main town, the famed baobab tree stands at a height of 7.5 meters tall with a circumference of 19.5 meters. In Africa, where it is indigenous, baobab trees are known as upside-down trees because their branches look like roots; in Sri Lanka, the baobab tree in Mannar is known to locals as the “Ali Gaha”, or the “Elephant Tree”, because its rough bark resembles the skin of an elephant.
Origins of the Old Tree
This tree is said to have been brought to Sri Lanka by Arab traders several centuries ago. In a study conducted in 2003, the tree was found to be more than 700 years old. It is one of around 40 surviving baobab trees in the country, all of which are protected because of the species’ rarity.
Visits to Mannar should be conducted between December and February, or between July and September, to take advantage of the area’s weather. The months between April and June can burn rather hot in the Northern Province, so care should be taken to avoid traveling here during that summer period.