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Ram Setu a man-made structure or natural? Historical research council to explore

While some claim the Sethu was a bridge was built by Lord Rama’s “Vanar Sena” and hence cannot be touched, others insist it is a naturally formed chain of lime shoals. It is a 30-km-long stretch of limestone shoals that runs from Pamban Island near Rameshwaram in South India to Mannar Island off the northern coast of Sri Lanka.

india Updated: Mar 24, 2017 21:28 IST
Neelam Pandey
Some claim the Sethu was a bridge was built by Lord Rama’s “Vanar Sena” (army of apes and monkeys) and hence cannot be touched.
Some claim the Sethu was a bridge was built by Lord Rama’s “Vanar Sena” (army of apes and monkeys) and hence cannot be touched.(Raj K Raj /HT Representative Photo)

Is Ram Setu a natural phenomenon or a man-made structure? The Indian Council of Historical Research (ICHR) under the HRD ministry will conduct an underwater exploration study to find out.

ICHR chairman Y Sudershan Rao said no underwater exploration has so far been done to find out whether Ram Setu or the Adam’s Bridge is a myth or artificial phenomenon.

A theoretical training under a pilot project will begin in May and exploration will be done in October.

The bridge between the coasts of Tamil Nadu and Sri Lanka has been at the centre of controversy since the Sethusamudram shipping canal project was planned, requiring dredging in the area.

While some claim the Setu was a bridge was built by Lord Rama’s “Vanar Sena” (army of apes and monkeys) and hence cannot be touched, others insist it is a naturally formed chain of lime shoals. It is a 30-km-long stretch of limestone shoals that runs from Pamban Island near Rameshwaram in South India to Mannar Island off the northern coast of Sri Lanka.

The development assumes significance as it comes in the wake up fresh demand being made from many quarters to build Ram Mandir in Ayodhya after the BJP came to power in Uttar Pradesh.

Read more: ‘Ramayana no basis for Ram Setu debate’

The matter reached Supreme Court with petitions challenging the government’s decision to construct the Sethusamudram Canal by dredging a portion of the Ram Setu.

The project is being commissioned under the marine technology training programme of ICHR dealing with under-water archeology and research scholars will be given training for this purpose.

“It has been found that even Helen of Troy did exist through research. So unless we make an enquiry how will we know whether something exists or not? To know whether it is a myth or aberration or it did exist we need to undertake a physical study. The aim of the project is to collect material evidence,” said Rao.

Depending on the success of the project and the material gathered, a decision on further exploration will be taken by ICHR. A group of 15-20 research scholars will be selected across the country and will be trained to conduct the research.

Read more: Photos no proof of Ram Setu: NASA

The project will be headed by former Archeological Survey of India (ASI) director Alok Tripathi for underwater exploration. ICHR officials said they also will seek help of other maritime experts from ASI and maritime institutes.

India has very few maritime archeologists and whether ICHR will be able to get help from such experts is a big question, sources said.

When quizzed that in the past a number of studies have been done for Ram Setu, Rao said this is the first such effort being made by the council to find out whether ‘what is being said exists’.

“We will only speak about the artifacts and not get into whether it was built by Lord Rama or not,” clarified Rao.

Read more: Centre refuses to take stand in Ram Sethu plea

Officials said that a board of studies will be constituted to select the students for this project and the research findings will be published by ICHR.

“We will prepare a detailed plan as to what exactly is the research project going to look at. The theoretical two-week long training will be done in Delhi and rest of the work will be done at the site. We will approach the government if a need arises,’ said a senior official.