In last night’s post I mentioned that the Hindu hero Rama ordered his monkey army to build a footbridge across the Gulf of Mannar that would allow them to march into Sri Lanka. The bridge referenced in the Ramayana actually exists. India and Sri Lanka are connected by a thin shoal made of sand and coral which, when viewed from the sky, looks perfectly uncanny and probably man-made. Consensus among geologists is that it most certainly is not. Science proves ostensibly that ocean currents deposited the sand and the stone that make up the shoal and its islands, but there is no agreement as to how this actually would have happened. Temple records from the area indicate that the bridge was and had always been traversable by foot until about 1500 AD when a typhoon washed a much of it away. In the years since, the bridge has become a barrier to maritime commerce. The shoal is very shallow in most places and cannot be crossed by large vessels. Recently, an effort has been underway to dredge a portion of the bridge to cut a lane that would permit passage. This undertaking has been met with considerable resistance from the local Hindu community which maintains that the bridge was indeed built by Rama and that dredging any portion of it would amount to defilement of a sacred place.