The Pamban Channel at Rameswaram

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 The Portuguese at Pamban and connections to Malabar

Some years ago, I mentioned the Pamban bridge, while writing about the Ceylon boat mail, a bridge that was an engineering marvel when it was constructed in 1914, over 108 years ago. The Pamban bridge was planned as the first phase of the linkage between India and Ceylon. However, the second part of the link, connecting Dhanushkodi to Talaimannar, i.e., the Palk straits, never reached fruition and what we still see, are the remnants of the ancient Adam’s bridge, the Rama Setu bridge constructed by Hanuman and his troops. Now comes the clincher. Did you know that the original Pamban channel was man-made, and that too not so long ago? In fact, the isthmus at Pamban which had been breached in a violent storm in 1480, was dug up and converted into a channel by workers, under Portuguese direction in 1549!

The purpose and the effects of this work in the vicinity of the holy town of Rameswaram had a number of violent consequences involving even the powers in Malabar, and their connections interestingly continued during the Pamban bridge construction in 1904 and more recently in 1964!