Probably the name sounds too exotic and foreign to many but then the Gulf of Mannar is an arm of the Indian Ocean lying between the southern tip of India and the west coast of Sri Lanka. Today Gulf of Mannar is declared as an important biosphere reserve, which is home to the world’s richest and rarest marine life and is renowned for its coral reef systems, seagrass, and algal life.

A couple of months ago, I was on a road trip driving down the coastline of Tamil Nadu with a couple of friends from Mumbai. One of our objectives on this road trip was to find suitable winds for kite surfing and maybe even world-class surf breaks around the Gulf of Mannar’s extensive reef system. Although the winds weren’t so conducive for kite surfing with no big swells either for surf, We ended up doing a bit of exploration to experience the beauty of the Gulf of Mannar and tried to understand the potential of its geographical location which definitely holds true prospects of our future ambitions.

Well, there is more to the Gulf of Mannar, this region used to be the world’s foremost source of finding natural pearls until the 20th century, and today you can still find some exotic shells and ornamental corals which gets taken out of these fragile eco-systems.

As a lensman, I had a great time capturing the beauty and life at the Gulf of Mannar. In fact, I got lucky in shooting the famous landmark, the railway crossing bridge which is built upon the turquoise blue ocean. Obviously, one cannot miss the ancient Rameswaram temple and the surrounding area, the temple itself is amazing with its symmetrical pillars and riot of colors it possessed. We tried to make it to Dhanushkodi which is at the tip of Rameswaram Island, but we couldn’t since our’s wasn’t a 4×4 vehicle, but the nonetheless we could sense the ghost town with no life around after 1964 super cyclone which completely destroyed this tiny town which is just 29km west of Talaimannar in Sri Lanka. It is also considered a pilgrimage site where Lord Rama built the bridge to cross the ocean with his army to Lanka.

Our stay for the entire duration was in an old colonial bungalow called BISON (British Indian Steaming Oriental Navigation) house, which was only 150 years old with a perfect backdrop for shooting a horror movie. Everything about this old bungalow was spooky, that it made us read the visitor book just to make sure that no one left any caution or their strange experiences. This bungalow was in a small town called Mandapam which is known for its refugee camp for many Sri Lankan Tamils.

As I write this little blog post of my brief experience from the Gulf of Mannar after a couple of months, my friends from the road trip are already down there once again at Gulf of Mannar kite surfing the best winds of their life !! The rumor is that they have even found a couple of good surf breaks.


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