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Mannar

Travel Guide Asia Sri Lanka Mannar

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Introduction

Mannar district is one of the five districts of the Northern Province of Sri Lanka. It has a unique terrain - very dry with salterns along the coast. The mythological bridge from the Indian epic Ramayana is said to have been built from Rameshwaram, India to Talai Mannar. Currently, this place is not open to tourists as it has experienced successive conflicts and frequent displacements of people. There is a lot of refugee movement from Mannar to Rameshwaram.

The place is unique because many of its areas have very unique names directly from the Ramayana, e.g: the path through which Rama walked etc. Apart from the literary interest in the district, it is interesting for the difference in topography. The harsh, sparse land with donkeys roaming about the streets - the donkeys are said to have been brought by Arab traders in the past. The inhabitants of this district are Tamil speaking and come from different religious backgrounds: Christians (RC and non RC), Hindus and Muslims.

There have been rumours of oil in the districts and talks of oil explorations[1] being undertaken. Currently, the larger part of the district is empty due to the heavy fighting that took place last year and most of the people are confined to two divisions within the district as internally displaced people.

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Sights and Activities

  • Thiruketheeswaran: an ancient Shiva temple believed to have been built around 300 BC is one of the famous three ancient Shiva temples built around this period and is described in the devotional lyrics of the poet saint Thirugnanasampanthar of South India. The temple was destroyed during the Portuguese invasions in the 16th century and excavations in the temple complex in the 1950s restored the temple to its former glory. An annual pilgrimage by devotees is undertaken from all parts of the country during the Mahasivarathri festival but has been curtailed during the conflict.
  • Madhu church: a special pilgrimage place for Catholics in Sri Lanka.

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Getting There

By Bus

This is the current mode of transport to Mannar as there is no train service beyond Medawachiya to the Northern districts. However, due to the numerous checkpoints and the necessity of getting defence ministry clearance for non-residents of the district to travel there, it is not possible for the casual traveller to visit there now.

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Eat

There are a few cheap eateries in the town center. There is a special cafe with delicious Indian food, made by a returnee/former refugee in India.

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Sleep

The Government guesthouse is currently the only accommodation available for the public and it is around USD 20 per night.

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This is version 4. Last edited at 5:43 on Apr 14, 09 by dr.pepper. No articles link to this page.

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