What’s Ram Setu and why is it being explored now?
It’s difficult to attest mythology. History and mythology have always almost stood heads on at each other. But for the first time, Indian scientists have decided to verify the mythological accuracy of a historical feature. Indian scientists will undertake a scientific expedition to date the chain of corals and sediments forming the Ram Setu.
The legendary bridge
Ram Setu — also known as Rama’s Bridge or Adam’s Bridge or Nala Setu — is a chain of limestone shoals, between Pamban Island off the south-eastern coast of Tamil Nadu, India, and Mannar Island, off the north-western coast of Sri Lanka.
The mythological importance
The 48-km long bridge-like structure has been mentioned in the Ramayana but little about its formation is known or proven, scientifically. Mythologically, the Ram Setu was built by vaanar sena under the guidance of lord Hanuman to reach Lanka where Sita was confined after being abducted by Raavan. Lord Ram crossed this bridge and defeated Raavan to bring back Sita home.
The three-year project involves an underwater exploration that will determine the age of the setu (bridge) and how it was formed. The research will begin this year itself. The central advisory board on archaeology, functioning under the Archaeological Survey of India, approved the project proposal submitted by CSIR – National Institute of Oceanography (NIO), Goa to study the sediments and determine its origin. Carbon dating techniques, which are now available in India, will be primarily used to determine the age of the sediments. Broadly, the explorers will apply a number of scientific techniques while attempting to date the Ram Setu, study its material composition, outline the sub-surface structure along with attempting to excavate remnants or artifacts, if any, from the site.
Did you know?
The city of Dwarka is also mentioned in Mahabharata. A part of Dwarka, along coastal Gujarat, is underwater, confirming the sea-level rise. The NIO has been studying this site, and so far, traced large amounts of scattered stones which were retrieved at the depth between three to six metres beneath. Stone anchors, too, were found at the site, suggesting it to be part of an ancient harbour.