Friday, June 9, 2023

Tourism      Wildlife      National Parks      Tamil Nadu     Ramanathapuram    

Gulf of Mannar, Marine National Park




Ramanathapuram District, Tamil Nadu

Main attraction


Coral Reefs, Turtles

Best season


October to March

Nearest Town


Rameshwaram (5km)

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GOM BR is located in the southeastern tip of Tamil Nadu extending from Rameswaram in the North to Kanyakumari in the south. It is the first marine biosphere reserve (BR) in India. Spreading over an area of 623 hectares (10,500 km²), the area described as the Pamban-to-Tuticorin barrier reef was declared a National Park in 1986 and later converted into a Biosphere Reserve in 1989. The Gulf of Mannar Marine National Park (GOM MNP) comprises of 21 islands surrounded by coral reef areas along with shallow water habitat of unique marine biodiversity. Sea horse, Sea Cow, Dolphins, sea cucumbers etc. are seen here. As all the 21 islands come under the Marine National Park sphere, tourism and other related activities are NOT allowed.

The park which runs along the coasts of Ramanathapuram and Tuthukudi (Tuticorin) districts near Mandapam, 150 kms away from Madurai area, is a part of the Indian Ocean and lies between India and the west coast of Sri Lanka at a width between 160 and 200 km.

A chain of low islands and reefs known as Rama's Bridge (based on the epic Ramayana), also called Adam's Bridge, separates the Gulf of Mannar from the Palk Strait, which lies to the north between India and Sri Lanka. Tambaraparani River from the coast of India and the Aruvi Aru from the coast of Sri Lanka merges with the Indian Ocean on both sides of the park.

Of the 21 islands, seven islands belong to Mandapam group, seven islands to Keelakarai group, three islands to Vembar group and four remaining islands to Tuticorin group. The Marine National Park, one of the richest coastal regions in Asia, contains over 3,600 species of flora and fauna most of which are in their virgin form. There are beaches, estuaries and tropical dry broadleaf forests in the park, and three distinct marine ecosystems such as sea grass, coral reefs and mangroves along with algal communities and salt marshes.  Around 11 species of sea grass, totally recorded in India, and nearly 117 species of Hard coral are found in the Gulf of Mannar. The Kurusadai Islands, off Mandapam boasts of a vast expanse of shallow waters. The reef is home to sprats, herrings, barracuda, sea horses, dolphins, Balano-glossus, sea cucumbers, pearl oysters and turtles. The sandy shores of the islands provide a nesting habitat for about 5 species of marine turtles. Migratory birds also visit these islands. But due to destructive fishing and pollution, coral reefs, dolphins, Dugongs (Dugong Dugon), whales and sea cucumbers are among the species which figure in the endangered list.

Nearest Attractions
Pamban Rail Scissors Bridge, Devipatnam
The island of Rameswaram is connected to the mainland by a 2.06KM long Pamban bridge, which was built in the year 1930 on 145 stone pillars. This bridge can be opened like a pair of scissors when large vessels need to cross through the strait. A part of this bridge got damaged during the 1964 cyclone which was rebuilt exactly in the same manner.

Rameswaram Temple
Rameswaram is an island situated on the northeastern side of the Gulf of Mannar. It is believed that pilgrimage to Kasi will be finished only after worshipping at Rameswaram temple.

It has a vast stretch of sandy shores, which forms a marsh in the middle of the northern side of the island. This marsh gets a little water from the inundation during the spring tides and supports nearly 6 species of migratory birds which comes from Europe and Australia during October to January every year. Ruins of the church and other government buildings constructed during British reign are present here.

Kodandaraman Temple
It is situated on the way to Danushkodi from Rameswaram at a distance of 30KM from Rameswaram. This is a temple built at the place where Vibhishana, Ravanasura s younger brother was believed to surrender himself to Lord Rama and eventually got enthroned by Lakshmana.

A coastal village is also known as Navashabashanam. It is believed that Lord Rama worshipped Navagraha  (Nine planets) here. The temple near by here is dedicated to Devi, who is said to have killed the demon Mahishasura at this spot. Hindus perform religious rites for their ancestors here.

A place of Puranic importance, Sethukkarai (meaning the Sethu Coast) is an important pilgrim centre having religious significance owing to the belief that Lord Ram is said to have constructed a bridge from here over the sea waters to reach Sri Lanka