Tam: மன்னார் maṉṉār – Sin: මන්නාරම mannārama

‘Sandy Causeway’   NP,  Sri Lanka

From Tam: mann, ‘sand, gravel’; and ar/aru, ‘way, road, path’.

Mannar Island is connected to the mainland by a causeway which at one time had a chain ferry which hauled visitors over the wet sands.

It is linked to Rameswaram in India by ‘Adam’s Bridge’, a line of limestone shoals which some say was a walkable land link up to the 15thC.

A ferry used to run between Rameswaram and Talaimannar (Tam: talai, ‘head, tip, point’) until the Civil War.

Mannar has been a pearl-fishing centre for nearly 2,000 years and for 500 of those it has had a fort: built by the Portuguese in the 16thC, rebuilt by the Dutch in the 17thC, and now in ruins.

Tennent was less than impressed with the region calling it:

“sterile and repulsive, covered by a stunted growth of umbrella trees and buffalo thorns”.

For related place names see Sri Lanka Place names.


Mannar Fort

Mannar Fort           David Stanley