Linked to the mainland by a causeway, Mannar feels fairly remote, perhaps because the original bridge was blown up in the bomb attack in the 1990s and it took until 2010 for a permanent replacement structure to be completed. Mannar town, located in the southeast corner of the island, is the main settlement. Its principle attraction is a Portuguese Fort, near the town’s entrance, which was later reinforced by the Dutch.
Catholicism is prevalent in this area and the St Sebastian Church, with slightly Moorish appearance, is especially revered by the community. Mannar is also famous for its baobab trees, believed to have brought to Sri Lanka by the Arabs. There are some huge specimens, including one located to the north of town. It is said to have been planted in the 15th century.
At the island’s western end is Talaimannar, from where ferries formerly shuttled between Sri Lanka and India. Towards the west of Talaimannar is Adam’s Bridge, a series of sandbanks that extend all the way to India. According to the Indian epic Ramayana, the makeshift bridge was constructed by the monkey god Hanuman in order to cross the sea between India and Sri Lanka. These days, the army runs boat trips out to these sand islands. more