On the southern tip of Mannar Island, just outside of its main town, Mannar Fort offers stunning views over the ocean between itself and the mainland of Sri Lanka. The square-shaped fort was built in the mid-16th century by the Portuguese, but it was captured by the Dutch in 1658. The Dutch made no changes to the building once it was in their possession other than to reinforce it from further attacks. In 1795, the Dutch surrendered to the British, and the fort was subsequently occupied by British forces.
The Fort During its Heyday and Today
The fort bastions reach a height of around 3.5 meters, with thick walls that measure approximately 1.5 meters, and ramparts that stretch for a length of approximately 14.5 meters each. The fort turned a tidy profit from the practice of pearl fishery within its waters, but the depletion of the area’s pearl oysters led to a decline of the structure’s old grandeur. It is currently occupied by Sri Lanka’s Department of Archeology. The remains of what looks to be a church can be found within the fort’s walls, as well as two watchtowers that stand at its corners.
Best Time to Visit
The fort is open to the public, but visitors should take care to plan trips between the months of July and September, and between December and February, in order to take advantage of agreeable weather. The Northern Province endures exceedingly hot temperatures between the summer period of April to June.