Exploring Mannar; Best Ways to Understand Local Culture and Heritage
Located in the north western coast of the island, Mannar is an island that is considered to be the closest to India and was once a major terminal for travellers journeying between both countries. Due to the Civil War, Mannar was overlooked by many, however, has quickly risen to prominence since the end of the war in 2009. Mannar is an interesting place that allows one to understand the culture, and history of the island, while also having the opportunity to relax in picturesque places. Here is a simple guide to exploring Mannar.
Visit the Places of Worship
The island of Mannar is home to several places of worship that allows you to understand the diverse cultures that live in the area. Two major places that should be included in your itinerary are the Thiruketheeswaram Kovil and the Church of Our Lady of Madhu. The Thiruketheeswaram Kovil is considered to be one of the five Pancha Iswaram (five designated temples for the worship of Lord Murugan), thus making it one of the most sacred Hindu temples in the entire island. On the other hand, the Church of Our Lady of Madhu is an example of how there is a strong Catholic community as well. Many interesting festivals are organised by these places of worship, in which you can participate as well.
A Stroll through Heritage
During the days of Dutch colonialism in the 17th century, Mannar was an island that was heavily fortified since it was used as a stronghold to maintain the trade monopoly, and the offshore pearl banks. All this can be seen when you explore the Mannar Fort, as the complex still has quite a few remnants, such as the chapel, dungeon, and the bell tower. The Mannar Fort is also known for its splendid views of the Indian Ocean and the surrounding town. There are several other colonial monuments that are scattered across the island that narrates quite a story to anyone who is interested, thus making it a good opportunity for you to discover an interesting past.
Revel in the Views of a Mythical Bridge
The northernmost point of the Mannar lies the lighthouse that allows you to witness a series of islands that is believed to be the remains of a bridge that is steeped in mythology. Believed to have been an ancient bridge that connected the island to India, these islands are heavily featured in the Ramayana chronicles as the very bridge used by Lord Hanuman to crossover to the island of Lanka and help out his friend Prince Rama during his conflict with the demon King Ravana. Although such a bridge no longer exists, it is here that you can witness some of the finest sceneries in the entire western coast, since it gives unhindered views of the horizon. Strolling along the golden sands near the lighthouse with an amazing view in the distance as the sun sets is the perfect way to unwind and relax in Mannar.
Relax on a Quiet Beach
Keeri Beach is the perfect place for those looking for a quiet stretch of golden sands to themselves. Hidden away from the crowds, the quiet beach is a great place to witness the sunset from too.