The Indian Government is getting ready to blow up the bridge of rocks that runs between Sri Lanka and India.. that many Hindus believe was built by Ram’s Army. It is a significant piece of historical artifact that should be studied in great detail to undedrstand its creation…. rather than just blowing it up.
If you are reading this please campaign against the destruction of Ram Setu!
Sethusamudram, a project to create alternative shorter route for ships to cross the Gulf of Mannar, is a wonderful idea — one which is more than 150 years old. The channel, originally an idea of a British commander named A D Taylor was put forth in 1860. In 1955, the Government of India set up the Sethusamudram project committee to look into the feasibility of the project and five routes were discussed till 2001 but nothing happened. The National Democratic Alliance government sanctioned a few crore rupees to study the project but before a final decision on the route could be taken, the government lost power.
The official web site of the project says, ‘Ships originating from the west of India and destined for Chennai, Ennore, Vishakapatnam, Paradeep, Haldia and Kolkata have to travel around the Sri Lankan coast resulting in increase of travel distance and time. Apart from this ships belonging to Indian Navy and Coast Guard need also to traverse around Sri Lanka. In order to reduce the steaming distances between the east and west coast of India and to improve the navigation within territorial waters of India, a navigation channel connecting the Gulf of Mannar and Palk Bay through Adam’s Bridge has been envisaged so that the ships moving between the east and west coasts of India need not go around Sri Lanka.’ The total cost of the project is Rs 2,427 crores (Rs 24.27 billion).
But due to political expediency and a pathetic problem of a ‘secular amnesia’ about heritage matters, it has got a controversial hue, which could have been avoided if some transparency was maintained and points of collective sensitivities and faith were not ignored. The project is fine, but the present route is not, as it involves destruction of a bridge believed to have been built by Lord Rama and Muslims and Christians believe it to be Adam’s creation.
Foreigners and Indians alike have described it as Rama’s bridge since ancient times in their maps and travelogues. The first time someone called it Adam’s Bridge was in 1804 by James Rennell, the first surveyor general of the East India Company. Even if the Government of India prefers to use the name Adam’s Bridge, it simply proves that not only Hindus but Muslims and Christians too have a reverence for the bridge it is going to destroy.
Now when the media and political leaders are busy with the Uttar Pradesh election and exit polls, the Sethusamudram dredgers are busy destroying a great world heritage site India has.
The Ram Setu or Adam’s Bridge connects India’s Rameshwaram to Sri Lanka’s Talaimannar. A movement has begun to safeguard it at the shores of Rameshwaram on April 18. Two former judges of the Supreme Court, Justice K T Thomas and Justice V R Krishna Iyer, none of them close to the saffron side, have warned the government against destroying the Ram Setu.
It is ironical that a government which changes the metro rail route to protect the Qutub Minar, built with the material of destroyed temples, stops a corridor to protect the Taj Mahal’s surroundings and spends crores of rupees to showcase ancient potteries and jewellery in heavily guarded museums, is destroying a unique symbol of national identity and an icon well preserved in our minds since ages. Even a child knows that a bridge was built by the friends of Lord Rama using floating stones and Rama’s army marched over it to Lanka to rescue Sita and destroy the evil regime of Ravana.
Hence during Dussehra every year and in dance dramas depicting Rama’s life enacted across the globe, specially in East Asia, they never ever fail to mention the Setu Bandhan or the construction of Rama’s bridge. Apart from the Ramayana, the Mahabharata also refers to the continued protection of Nala Setu following Sri Rama’s command. Kalidasa’s Raghuvamsham also refers to the Setu. So does the Skanda Purana (III 1.2.1-114), the Vishnu Purana (IV 4.40-49), the Agni Purana (V-XI), the Brahma Purana (138.1-40).
That is the memory so beautifully adopted by the Geological Survey of India in its logo, which describes India in this line etched at the bottom of its insignia — Aasetu Himachal, meaning India is spread between the Bridge and the Himalayas. That is the Ram Setu Bridge on the southern tip of our motherland, an identity of the nation, under destruction now.
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