Talaimannar once served as the gateway for travel and transport of goods between India and Sri Lanka. It is an hour bus journey away from Mannar town. It looks isolated with just a few trees and traditional homes built with palm leaf roofs and clay walls. It was a town badly hit by the civil war but slowly developing into a tourist destination.
The pier that still exists had consisted of a double railway track which was built by the British in 1915, and once served passenger ferries where people used to embark on a ferry service from the end of the railway line, crossing the Palk Straits to Dhanushkodi, India and vice versa. The pier was run by a station of the Sri Lanka Railway. Unfortunately a strong cyclone in 1964 had damaged the pier and disrupted the ferry service which continued until the civil war broke out in 1983, thereby closing the railway service to India. The railway line was rebuilt and restored from Medawachchiya to Talaimannar resulting in the Mannar railway line being opened in 2015.
The pier looks breathtaking with its abandoned rail line extending towards the turquoise waters of the Indian Ocean. A lighthouse sits on the side of the railway line, which was also built by the British in 1915 and it stands tall at 19 metres, a white cylindrical structure that was used for seafarers and navy guiding boats. It was neglected during the civil war but was restored and is open to the public. The isolated pier and lighthouse is a clear reflection of what Mannar has been through but it is the people of Mannar and Talaimannar that make a visit to this undiscovered place much more worthy for it is a destination so different from the rest of the island.
The beach that surrounds the pier is beautiful and has been declared safe for swimming. It is an ideal spot for an off the beaten track experience exploring the coasts of Sri Lanka.
Talaimannar is 18 miles away from the eastern coast of India at Dhanushkodi, there is a chain of sand banks and islets that form a very small land border between the two countries and legend has regarded this border to be Adam’s Bridge.
To date, Talaimannar has been considered a kite surfing destination due to its strong winds. It is also an attraction for birds hence Mannar is bird watching hotspot.