Mannar in Sri Lanka.


Mannar is located 325 north of Colombo

Reaching Mannar

The regular route to Mannar from Colombo is via Anuradhapura and Madwachchiya.

Mannar District

Mannar district of the Northern Province of Sri Lanka consists of an area that is part of the mainland and Mannar island, the largest islet in the country. The road to Mannar is through the dry zone region of Sri Lanka. While the landscape in Mannar district varies from wooded jungles to paddy fields and palm trees.

Mannar Island

Mannar Island, a dry, barren peninsula located in the district of Mannar, though called an islet, is in fact a peninsula formed in a shape of a tongue. At Talaimanar, the westernmost tip of the island, it is almost connected to the Dhanuskodi, the easternmost tip of peninsula of Southern India by a reef of corals submerged in the Palk Straits.

Apart from the thin strip of land that joins the peninsula to the mainland, Mannar island is also connected by the causeway over the shallow waters forming a 3 km stretch of A14 Madawachchiya –Talaimannar main road

The small fishing port of Mannar is located on the southeastern shore.

Mannar Island has been known historically by names of “Manthei”, “Mathota”, “Mahathiththa”, “Mahaputu” “Mawatuthota”. Mannar.
Mannar Sri Lanka                 
Mannar Sri Lanka
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Mannar Highlights

St. Mary’s Church at Madhu

St. Mary’s Church at Madhu (Shrine of Our Lady of Madhu) is located 50km south-east of Mannar. It is a 12 km drive ( A 378 Madu Road) inland off A14 Madawachchiya –Talaimannar main road at the Madu Road junction.
The Portuguese style church built in the nineteenth-century is home to the statue of Our Lady of Madhu, which is belived to bring blessings upon all who visit the church. The statue was brought to Madhu in 1670 by Catholics fleeing persecution by the Dutch. The remote village of Madhu has been sacred to Buddhists for more than 1860 years, that is since the period of King Gaja Bahu I (114-136 CE) , who introduced the Hindu Pattini cult to ancient Lanka.

It is very significant to note that the Pattini cult wasn’t accommodated in Anurdhpura , the capital and then glorious Asian scholastic center of Theravada Buddhism. Pattini Devale shrine built at Mannar 90 km north-west of Anuradhapura. During the period of the Portuguese in Sri Lanka, the Hindus called it the Amman Kovil. The nearby tank is still called Kovil Kulam (tank of the devale) after the Tamil name of the site.
The congregation of pilgrims is mainly in view of their belief in the healing powers attributed to the deity Pattini Amma. Pattini Amma’s blessing is also sought by childless women. Mr. E.B. Denham the author of the Census Report of 1911 says: “It is essentially a forest pilgrimage…the earth of Madu is considered to possess special medical properties, hence the sanctity, resulting in the reputation that `Madhu Medicine’ effects cures in cases. It is interesting to note in the year 1911 there were no permanent residents at Madhu. On the Census day of March 10th 1911, the only people present at Madhu were 320 pilgrims: 230 of them being Sinhalese from Colombo City and the Chilaw District.

In his Manual of the North Central Province, British civil servant R.W. Ievers recorded the following: “At the present day the offerings are generally taken to St. Mary’s Church at Madu, which is considered by the Buddhist and a great many of the Tamil pilgrims, who resort there, as the Temple of Pattini Amma (Amman Kovil).”

By building a church there starting in 1876, the Catholic bishop of Jaffna conveniently appropriated the popular age-old belief in the healing powers of Pattini Amma for the edification of Virgin Mary of the Christian faith. However the site is still sacred to Buddhists and Hindus.

Madhu Feast

Madhu feast is held in the middle of the month of August. 15th August being the day of Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary is expected to draw over half a million devotees from all over the Sri Lanka. The Day of Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, according to the Roman Catholic Church, celebrates the day that Virgin Mary, having completed the course of her earthly life, was assumed body and soul into heavenly glory.

Boabab trees

Mannar Island is one of the few places in Sri Lanka where Boabab trees thrive. Boabab is a unique specie of trees: the enormous barrel like trunk (could grow up to a diameter of 9 meters) that tapers into the branches is hollow. When the leaves are shed, the dry the tree appears as if it is planted upside down. The rough and grayish bark of the tree resembles the hide of an elephant. The fruit of Baobao tree loved by the monkeys. Catholics in Mannar named the fruit Judas Bag: the fruit contains 30 seeds.

The name baobab comes from the Arabic plant name Buhibab, while the scientific name is after the French Botanist M. Adanson (1727–1806). The Arabs traders together with the camels, also brought Boabab tree and planted in the hot sandy lands of Mannar. Baobab tree, native to Africa, was brought in for the sole purpose of feeding Arabian Camels. The Baobab Adansonia digitata L. belongs to the family Bombacaceae.

Giant’s Tank

The cultivation in Mannar district is sustained by 347 minor ancient irrigation reservoirs and three major ancient reservoirs called Giant’s Tank, Akathimuripu tank and Viduyakulam tank.

Giant’s Tank, the largest ancient irrigation reservoir in the district of Mannar, sprawls over an area of 3800 hectares by the side of A14 Madawachchiya –Talaimannar main road. Bordering the tank from the north-east to south-east is the Giant’s Tank Sanctuary that has its southern boundary skirting the main motor road all the way: evergreen dry zone densely wooded jungle. On the other side of the road are paddy fields.

Giant’s Tank feeds 162 minor tanks irrigating over 11,000 ha of paddy land. At the end of the monsoon season, tank upstream (Tekkam Anicut) is brimming with excess water that helps to irrigate an additional 2,500 ha. Giants Tank affords sustenance to no less than 2,560 farming families.

Thiruketheeswaram Kovil

Tiruketeeswaram Hindu Kovil is located at the port town of Manthai in the northern area of Mannar Island. The Kovil lies inland about a half an hour drive from the A14. Ketheeswaram is one of five Ishwarams dedicated to the Hindu deity Shiva and is venerated by the Hindus. The main festival is held on Maha Shiva Rathri. Also venerated at Thiruketheeswaram Kovil is Hindu Goddess Gowri Ambal, another form of Goddess Paththini.

Map of Mannar


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