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General Dalbir Singh to visit Sri Lanka

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Photp: thewiire.com

New Delhi: Indian Army chief Gen. Dalbir Singh will visit Sri Lanka from Monday to discuss various issues and enhance military cooperation between the two nations, an official statement said.

“During his visit, General Dalbir Singh is scheduled to interact with senior officials of defense forces and the ministry of defense of Sri Lanka to discuss a wide range of issues and to enhance military cooperation,” said the defense ministry statement.

During the visit which lasts till December 3, he would also visit training establishments and formation headquarters.

The “goodwill visit” would further enhance the long-standing ties and cooperation in areas of mutual interest between India and Sri Lanka, including regional security, the release said.

The visit assumed special significance in light of increasing defense cooperation between the two countries, it said, adding that in recent years, the India-Sri Lanka relationship has been marked by high level bilateral exchanges in various fields.

(IANS)

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Lost in Time : The Less Explored Pamban Island and the Rameswaram Island | Travelogue

The land of temples, picturesque locales, architecture, and the home of the 'Missile Man' of India - welcome to the Rameswaram Island!

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Rameswaram island
We take you through a town lost in time, Dhanushkodi in Rameswaram island. Wikimedia

Rameswaram, September 15, 2017 : Off the eastern coast of Tamil Nadu, some 500 km south of Chennai, lies Pamban Island. Seemingly a stone’s throw from neighboring Sri Lanka, this is an island steeped in historical significance, and with some of the most resilient people alive.

One of the longest sea bridges in the country, the iconic Pamban Bridge connects the mainland with the island, also known as Rameswaram Island. With breathtaking views of the Bay of Bengal, the journey to the island over this bridge rewinds one to colonial times, when it was built by the British to improve trade relations with Ceylon (now Sri Lanka).

Built in 1914 as India’s first-ever sea bridge, the 6,700-foot structure is in itself an engineering and historical marvel that has withstood several of nature’s furies — from storms to cyclones.

Rameswaram island
An overview of the Pamban Brindge. Wikimedia

The bridge initially ran up to the southeastern tip of the island, Dhanushkodi, now a ghost town. After a cyclone hit it in 1964, Dhanushkodi was washed away by the sea and is now a mere skeleton of the town it once was.

Remnants of its railway lines, church and the devastated dwellings of people can still be seen, though in very poor shape.

From the tip of the region, cell phone networks welcome one to Sri Lanka.

Visible from here is the Adam’s Bridge — a former land link between India and Sri Lanka, now undersea — that is also known as Rama Setu, the bridge believed to have been built by Lord Rama’s army to rescue Sita from Lanka.

Nambavel, a 50-year-old, says there can be no other home for him than Dhanushkodi, of pristine waters and picturesque views of the Bay of Bengal. Three generations of his family have lived here. Although the deadly cyclone forced many to migrate to villages around, some 50 families, including Nambavel’s, refused to leave.

“This has been our home for as long as we’ve known. We grew up playing in the sea water, then learnt to make our living through fishing or running petty shops,” Nambavel told this visiting IANS correspondent.

Rameswaram island
Residents of Dhanushkodi refuse to abandon their small town; for them the “sea is everything”. Wikimedia

“Even as many people we know migrated to nearby villages, there’s no home like Dhanushkodi for us — the sea is everything,” he said.

With sea levels rising around the world due to global warming, the region is constantly threatened by nature. But that does not deter Nambavel: “Even if another cyclone is close, most of us would like to be here, a land we’ve grown up in.”

Surrounded by sea and sand, the town cannot grow any crops and has no provision for electricity due to the wind velocity in the area. It is only the solar panels, an initiative of late President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam who hailed from Rameswaram, that light up the shacks of the few residents.

With Rameswaram considered one of the holiest places for Hindus, a majority of visitors make temples the focus of their travels.

Aiming to showcase the rich cultural and historical heritage of the island, apart from the much-visited temples, Utsa Majumder, the General Manager of the newly-launched Hyatt Place, Rameswaram, is working extensively on various itineraries that uncover the untrodden places in and around the region.

“There’s a lot more that the Rameswaram Island can offer than just the temples it is mostly known for. We want people to know that Rameswaram can be an experiential destination and not just a pilgrimage spot,” Majumder told IANS.

“From historic places that have stood the test of time to some incredible architecture and engineering like the Pamban Bridge, there’s a lot a tourist can see here,” she added.

The hotel offers these itineraries to travelers according to their interests, allowing them to explore different facets of the region, along with menus that present the cuisines of the land — from kuzhi paniyaram (rice batter dumplings) to kara kozhumbu (a spicy tamarind gravy).

Rameswaram Island
Local cuisine at Dhanushkodi. Wikimedia

The region also celebrates its much-beloved son Abdul Kalam. His two-storeyed house on Mosque Street is filled with thousands of his books and is always bustling with people.

A Rs 15-crore memorial to India’s “Missile Man”, inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on July 27, has also grown rather quickly as a tourist attraction. The memorial houses a copy of the last speech Kalam delivered at IIM-Shillong on July 27, 2015, a number of pictures of his meetings with world leaders, and a host of other objects.

As an island that is yearning to receive a boost to its tourism, even a bottle of water bought from a shack in Dhanushkodi goes towards supporting a family.

FAQs:

Reaching there: Flights to Madurai, the nearest airport, from all major cities. From Madurai, Rameswaram can be reached in 3 hrs 30 min (160 kms) by road.

For the picturesque views from a train, pick one that is available almost every hour to Rameswaram from Madurai Railway Station.

Stay: There are four-star, three-star hotels and smaller lodges in the town.

Best time to visit: October to March as the temperatures drop and stay between 20 to 30 degrees C, making travel easier. (IANS)

 

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Ram Sethu: Why the Spiritual Importance attached to it is Debatable!

 A team of Indian archaeologists is planning to board on an underwater expedition to explore the shallow strait separating India from Sri Lanka

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Ram Sethu
Ram Sethu: There is a debate regarding its construction. Google Map

June 30, 2017: Standing on the shores Tamil Nadu, Ram, an avatar of the god Vishnu, calls upon an army of warrior monkeys to help him bridge the two coastlines by building a pathway.

A team of Indian archaeologists is planning to board on an underwater expedition to explore the shallow strait separating India from Sri Lanka. There, a submerged 50-kilometer chain of limestone shoals Ram Bridge has become a pivotal fixture in the continuing debates between secular and religious India. The chief interrogation lies is Ram Bridge natural or man-made?

In 2005, the Sethusamudram Shipping Canal Project proposed cutting a path through Ram’s Bridge to open a shipping lane deep enough for cargo ships to pass through.

ALSO READ: These 10 Points to Keep in Mind While Planning for Indian Pilgrimage Sites

The plan did not get much support, particularly among Hindu groups. Protestors petitioned the government to reject the project and declare Ram Bridge a national monument. Subramanian Swamy, a parliament member, prompted the government to protect the “historic and sacred place.”

But the Archaeological Survey of India overseeing India’s heritage sites argued in an affidavit that Ram’s Bridge is little more than a ridge of sandbanks produced by sedimentation.

In 2013, the canal project was discarded and the reason being, the projected destruction of the local ecosystem, and a forecast of an increased tsunami risk. With dredging off the table, the debate over Ram Bridge was placed on hold—until now.

– by Naina Mishra of Newsgram, Twitter: @Nainamishr94

 

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Tibetan spiritual leader Dalai Lama offers prayers for the victims of floods in Sri Lanka

In a letter to Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, the Dalai Lama expressed sympathy for the loss of life and damage to the property

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Buddhist
The Dalai Lama gestures before speaking to students during a talk at Mumbai University February 18, 2011. REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui, VOA

Dharamsala, May 31, 2017: Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama has offered prayers for the victims of floods in Sri Lanka and financial assistance for the relief and rescue work there, a statement said on Wednesday.

In a letter to Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, the Dalai Lama expressed sympathy for the loss of life and damage to the property.

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“I offer my condolences,” he wrote, “and prayers for all the families who have lost loved ones or have been affected by this devastating natural disaster. As a token of my sympathy and concern, I have asked the Dalai Lama Trust to make a donation to the relief and rescue work.”

The UN said based on previous emergencies, drinking water and non-food items were identified as immediate needs by the National Disaster Relief Services Centre in the island-nation.

It was the worst flooding in Sri Lanka since 2003 that claimed more than 180 lives. A total of 545,243 people were affected by the disaster. (IANS)

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