Part of a series of entries retelling Hindu legends about different Gods in my own words. While there are over 330 million Hindu Gods, I’ll just tell stories I encounter.
Rama (avatar of Lord Vishnu) was travelling through India to Lanka with his army of ape men in order to rescue his wife Sita who had been abducted by the Demon Lord Ravenna.
They travelled for a long time, overcoming many obstacles, before reaching the Indian coast line. They could see across the ocean the land of Lanka, where Sita was being held. Now, Hanuman had no problems. With one leap he jumped across the wide gap, but realised halfway through that noone was following him – the distance was too far.
So he came back, to find an incredibly frustrated Rama – he was starting to get annoyed at all the obstacles between him and his wife. After a heated discussion, Rama swiftly pulled out his bow and and an arrow gifted to him by Lord Brahma, and threatened to shoot it into the ocean. This arrow would dry up all the water that it touches, allowing the army to pass.
Before Rama had a chance to shoot the arrow, there was a great churning in the ocean and the ocean-God appeared, begging Rama not to shoot the arrow, and dry up the ocean. Promising to assist the army in crossing to Lanka, he managed to calm Rama down. However, because he had already vowed to shoot the arrow, he needed an alternative place to shoot it. So the ocean-God asked him to shoot it north, where a group of robbers and thieves were using the ocean’s waters there to make mischief. So Rama shot it there, and it is now known as the desert of Malwar in Rajasthan.
Thus, the ocean allowed the monkey army to build a bridge across it to Lanka, by throwing boulders into the ocean and constructing a bridge across these pillars. It took the army three days to build it, and on the fourth day they all crossed into Lanka.
Now, the really interesting thing about this story is that even today there is evidence of a bridge like structure joining India and Sri Lanka.
Here it is on Google Maps:
Scientifically it is defined as a 30 km long series of limestone shoals, formed either by seismic activity or sediment deposits from the ocean.
In 2007 there was controversy about a proposed canal project aiming to dredge the bridge, in order to create a shorter path for ships travelling around India and Sri Lanka. There were protests across India by various Hindu groups, who tried to highlight the spiritual significance of the site. The debate that raged around the issue is very interesting: an example of science versus religion. Scientists were asked to comment on the religious importance of the site, and the ‘evidence’ used to prove the truth of the Hindu text Ramayana was challenged.