Updated: March 25, 2017 11:42:37 am
The Indian Council of Historical Research (ICHR) is set to wade into the controversy surrounding the origins of Ram Sethu. Ram Sethu, also known as Adam’s Bridge, is a continuous stretch of limestone shoals from Pamban Island near Rameshwaram in Tamil Nadu to Mannar Island off the northern coast of Sri Lanka. According to Ramayana, this was a bridge built by Ram and his army of apes to reach Ravana’s kingdom.
The Council, which is the apex body for funding of historical research in the country, will conduct a pilot study later this year to determine whether the ridge is natural or man-made. Speaking at a press meet on Friday, ICHR chairman Y S Rao said, “There has been a lot of debate on whether it is a natural phenomenon or not without any scientific exploration. We want to find out if there is any material evidence to support the theory of human intervention.”
According to ICHR’s new member-secretary Anand Shanker Singh, the Council will rope in about 20 research scholars with an interest in marine archaeology and train them for two weeks in May. Singh said former ASI director and marine archaeologist Alok Tripathi has agreed to train the research scholars. “Tripathiji has worked on the subject of Ram Sethu and is keen to help us,” he said.
Following the two-week training, the team will attend diving lessons in Puducherry and then explore the Ram Sethu for two months in October and November. “This is just the first step. It is completely an ICHR initiative but we may approach the Centre (for help) if needed. Based on our findings in the two months, we will decide whether it should be pursued further,” Rao said.
The origins of Ram Sethu have been contentious and many, including the BJP, believe that the “bridge” was built by Lord Ram. The BJP in 2007 was among the opponents of the Sethusamudram Shipping Canal Project under which the then UPA government had proposed to create a ship channel by dredging through the limestone shoals.
But there are others who have dismissed this as mythology and said that the ridge is a natural result of a process of accretion and the rising of the land in the ocean space between India and Sri Lanka.
In 2008, the UPA government had told the Supreme Court, “There is no bridge. It was not a man-made structure. It may be a superman-made structure, but the same superman had destroyed it. That is why for centuries nobody mentioned anything about it. It (Ram Sethu) has become an object of worship only recently.”
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