The Indian Council of Historical Research will undertake a two-month pilot project on ‘Ram Setu’ this year to archaeologically “ascertain” if the structures were built naturally or were “man-made”.
The Indian epic of Ramayana describes the Adam’s bridge – often linked to the chain of limestone shoals at the Palk Straits linking the Tamil Nadu coast to Sri Lanka – as an artificial bridge created to facilitate Lord Ram’s journey to Lanka to rescue Sita.
ICHR will start this archaeological journey with a 14-day training-cum-course workshop on Under-water Archaeology in May. It will later undertake the pilot project on a coastal site at an opportune time.
The Setu called Adam’s Bridge is a chain of limestone shoals found between Pamban Island or the Rameswaram Island, off the south-eastern coast of Tamil Nadu, India, and Mannar Island, off the north-western coast of Sri Lanka.
Many organisations have challenged geological theories on the formation of Ram Setu. While scientists say it is a naturally formed chain of lime shoals, there are those who believe that it was built by Lord Rama’s ‘Vanar Sena’ (army of apes) and hence cannot be touched.
ICHR plans to provide theoretical and practical training to select young archaeologists and inspire them to take up explorative initiatives along our coast obtaining necessary clearances from all the concerned.
The project will be headed by former Archeological Survey of India (ASI) director Alok Tripathi for underwater exploration and is being commissioned under the marine technology training programme of ICHR dealing with under-water archeology.
ICHR is a flagship research-based institution that functions under the Ministry of Human Resource Development.
Controversies around Ram Setu:
The Sethusamudram project that intends to dredge up the shallow sea in Palk Straits so as to enhance a shipping route along the Indian peninsula had run into trouble with Hindutva organisations protesting. They claimed the dredging would destroy the remnants of Ram Setu.
The Government of India, in an affidavit in the Supreme Court, said that there is no historical proof of the bridge.
In 2007, a publication of the National Remote Sensing Agency said that the structure “may be man-made”. Archaeological Survey of India found no evidence for it being human-made.