06 Places to see in Mannar

Mannar  is the main town of Mannar District, Northern Province, Sri Lanka. It is governed by an Urban Council. The town is located on Mannar Island overlooking the Gulf of Mannar and is home to the historic Ketheeswaram temple. In the Tamil language Mannar means the raised place [of sand] which is though to have come from the geology of Mannar Island which was formed by the accumulation of sand.

Mannar is known for its baobab trees and for its fort, built by the Portuguese in 1560 and taken by the Dutch in 1658 and rebuilt; its ramparts and bastions are intact, though the interior is largely destroyed.

Visually, the modern town is dominated by its churches, Hindu temples and mosques. The Catholic Church has a diocese headquartered in the town. By rail the town is connected to the rest of Sri Lanka by the Mannar Line.

Mannar is located in the Northern province of Srilanka and 283 km from Katunayake international airport - 6 hours drive

Mannar district which belongs to the Northern Province of Sri Lanka consists of an area that is part of the mainland and Mannar island – the largest islet in the country. The road to Mannar is through the dry zone of Sri Lanka. The landscape in Mannar district varies from wooded jungles to paddy fields and swaying palm trees.

Mannar Island is a dry and barren peninsula located in the district of Mannar. Though called an islet, it is in fact a peninsula formed in the shape of a tongue. Talaimannar, the westernmost tip of the island, is almost connected to the Dhanuskodi, the easternmost tip of the peninsula of Southern India by a reef of corals submerged in the Palk Straits.

The best time to visit Mannar Island and its attractions are between the months of July and September, or between December and February. The area is best avoided between April and June, when the weather in Sri Lanka’s Northern Province burns exceedingly hot,

01. Thantirimale Buddhist Temple

The Thanthirimale Rajamaha Viharaya  is now surrounded by huge boulders and thick forest covers. One could only imagine what the monastery had looked like nearly 2300 years ago but the peace and serenity still prevails.Built in the Third Century BC and used by King Devanampiyatissa as a one-day stop to Arahanth Theri Sangamitta on her way to Anuradhapura, Thanthirimale Rajamaha Viharaya seems to have developed from a small temple to a large monastery by the end of the Anuradhapura period. Thanthirimale was not Thanthirimale at the beginning. The area was first civilized by a minister of King Vijaya called Upatissa, who chose this ground surrounded by Malwatu Oya and Kanadara Oya by three sides to build his future town then named Upastissa Gama.

Note to remember

This is an Ancient Buddhist temple. Please be caution of your dress.

When we enter to a Buddhist temple we need to remove our hats and shoes. you can use temple socks if you want

Highly Recommending to hire a site guide to get the maximum output of the tour

02. Shrine of our lady of Madhu

St. Mary’s Church at Madhu (Shrine of Our Lady of Madhu) is located 50km south-east of Mannar. It is a 12 km drive (A 378 Madhu Road) inland off the A14 Madawachchiya –Talaimannar main road from the Madhu Road junction.

The Portuguese style church built in the nineteenth-century is home to the statue of Our Lady of Madhu, which is believed to bring blessings upon all who visit the church. The statue was brought to Madhu in 1670 by Catholics fleeing persecution by the Dutch. The remote village of Madhu has been also sacred to Buddhists for more than 1860 years, that is since the period of King Gaja Bahu I (114-136 CE) , who introduced the Hindu Pattini cult to ancient Lanka.

Note to remember

The Madhu Feast is held in the middle of the month of August. The 15th of August being the day of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary is expected to draw over half a million devotees from all over Sri Lanka. 

03. Wilpattu National Park

Wilpattu National Park (Willu-pattu; Land of Lakes) is a park located on the island of Sri Lanka. The unique feature of this park is the existence of “Willus” (natural lakes) – natural, sand-rimmed water basins or depressions that fill with rainwater. Located on the northwest coast lowland dry zone of Sri Lanka. The park is located 30 km (19 mi) west Anuradhapura and 26 km (16 mi) north of Puttalam (approximately 180 km (110 mi) north of Colombo).

The park is 1,317 km2 (508 sq mi) (131, 693 hectares) and ranges from 0–152 m (0–499 ft) above sea level. Nearly one hundred and six lakes (Willu) and tanks are found spread throughout Wilpattu. Wilpattu is the largest and one of the oldest National Parks in Sri Lanka. Wilpattu is among the top national parks world-renowned for its leopard (Panthera pardus kotiya) population. A remote camera survey was conducted in Wilpattu from July to October 2015 by the Wilderness and Wildlife Conservation Trust.

Note to remember

Contact and book a safari experience provider before you go there

04. Mannar Bird Sanctuary

The Mannar Bird Sanctuary (also known as the Vankalai Lagoon or Vankalai Sanctuary) Across an area of more than 4,800 hectares, is home to a vast array of migratory birds. The area was declared a sanctuary by the Department of Wildlife Conservation in 2008. This sanctuary provides a variety of different ecosystems (mangroves, salt marshes, lagoons, waterholes, grasslands and more) for the birds to peacefully live in. The area is known to provide exceptional feeding and living habitats for its large water bird population, hosting more than 20,000 water birds during the migratory season.

In 2010, the sanctuary was declared a Ramsar Site, marking it as a wetland site of international importance under the Ramsar Convention

Note to remember

When the thousands of birds that migrate to Sri Lanka arrive, their first stop is the Mannar region – particularly the bird sanctuary. Vankalai Lagoon is also their last staging point before they leave the country at the end of the season.

05. Adam's Bridge

This magnificent creation is located in Sri Lanka’s Northern Province, Adam’s Bridge is a chain of limestone shoals that connects the northern end of the country’s Mannar Island to the southeastern coast of Pamban Island in India. Measuring a distance of approximately 48 kilometers, geological evidence indicates that the bridge may have once existed as a land connection between the two neighboring countries which means India and Srilanka.

This bridge is also known as Rama’s Bridge due to Hindu legends that claim their own story of its origins. Ravana, the demon king of Lanka, is said to have kidnapped the wife of Rama, a major Hindu deity. Brahma, the creator god of Hinduism, is said to have created an army of warrior monkeys (called “vanara”) to aid Rama on his quest to reclaim his wife. Legend has it that the vanara constructed Rama’s Bridge to connect the two lands within five days.

Note to remember

The landmark is known as Adam’s Bridge because some early Islamic sources claimed that Adam landed on Adam’s Peak in Sri Lanka when he first fell to earth, before undertaking to cross to India via the bridge.

06. Talaimannar Light House

The Talaimannar Lighthouse was built in the early 20th century, in the year 1915.This Landmark is situated approximately 30 kilometres from Mannar’s main town on Mannar Island. It stands at 19 meters tall, featuring a round cylindrical tower with a painted white frontage, topped with a lantern and gallery. It is attached to the Thalaimannar Pier, which once served as the terminal of a ferry service to India. But, a cyclone in 1964 destroyed the terminal, and the route was afterward finished. Today, all that remains of a connection to India is Adam’s Bridge, a stretch of limestone shoals that begins at Mannar Island and disappears under the water in the direction of Pamban Island in India. During ancient times, when Mannar’s pearl fishery industry was booming, the town was known as one of the biggest suppliers of pearls in the world

Note to remember

The best time to visit Mannar Island and its attractions are between the months of July and September, or between December and February. The area is best avoided between April and June, when the weather in Sri Lanka’s Northern Province burns exceedingly hot, which could make for an unpleasant visit.

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