Mannar island lies just off the north west of Sri Lanka and is connected to mainland by a causeway. The most western tip of the island is only 30kms from India to which it was once connected.
The landscape is flat and barren bar some palmyra palm plantations, most of which seem unattended. Mannar is also famous for its donkeys, which aren’t originally native to the country. It is believed that they were brought over by Arab traders a few centuries back, as the smell of their dung kept insects away from the palmyra palm plantations. More modern methods are used nowadays and the donkeys are now mostly wild and often found roaming around Mannar town.
Donkeys and the shadow of a palmyra palm
Nowadays fishing is the main industry of the island.
Fishermen from the small town of Pesalai clearing the nets of all fish
Mannar port just after sunset
Mannar has had a large Muslim population since the 9th century with the arrival of Arab traders. It was also once a safe haven for Tamil Muslims expelled from the Indian Portuguese Territory in the 16th century. However, during the civil war it was long occupied by the LTTE who drove the Muslim population out in 1990, most of which walked the 50 kms to the safety of Puttalam through Wilpattu National Park.