Extending between the south-eastern tip of India and the western coast of Sri Lanka, the Gulf of Mannar is famous for its marine biodiversity. Its unique biological richness consists of over 4000 different species of animals & plants that make it a treasure house of global significance. From ornamental fishes to seagrass beds, from endangered marine animals to mangroves, this place’s biodiversity is unparalleled.
The Gulf of Mannar Biosphere Reserve extends over 10000 sq. km of ocean, islands, and the adjoining coastline. Seagrass and highly productive coral reefs form a nursery for the growth of diverse flora and fauna in the area. The religious place of Rameshwaram in the Gulf of Mannar makes it culturally significant and a major tourist attraction.
Gulf of Mannar Marine National Park
The Gulf of Mannar Marine National Park, a group of 21 small and mesmerizing islands, is the epicenter of marine biodiversity in India. Located about 1 to 10 km away from the eastern coast of Tamil Nadu, the National Park extends for around 160 km between Dhanushkodi and Tuticorin in the Indian Ocean. With a total area of 560 sq. km, the National Park is the core area of the Gulf of Mannar, and the 21 small islands mark up 6.23 sq. km.
Gulf of Mannar Marine National Park, established in 1980, boasts three surreal aquatic ecosystems – mangroves, seagrass, and coral reef. Due to its exquisite biodiversity, the National Park forms a protected area, and the tourist activities are available only through glass-bottom boats. Nevertheless, a visit to the National Park makes up an ultimate travel experience that lasts a life-long.
How to Reach Gulf of Mannar Marine National Park
The Gulf of Mannar Marine National Park lies on the Madurai Road in Ramanathapuram, Tamil Nadu, and has a well-connected road network. Rameshwaram Railway Station, at a distance of about 7 km from the National Park, is the nearest railway station. Alternatively, tourists can opt from private or government-operated vehicles.
Best Time to Visit Gulf of Mannar Marine National Park: October to March
Gulf of Mannar Marine National Park Timings: 09:30 AM – 12:30 PM; 01:30 PM – 05:30 PM
Biodiversity at the Gulf of Mannar Marine National Park
The breath-taking flora and fauna of the Gulf of Mannar Marine National Park also referred to as the Underwater Tropical Rain Forest, is unlike any other place in the world. From algal communities to beaches, from forests to salt marshes, the Gulf of Mannar Marine National Park showcases the beauty and serenity of nature in all its uniqueness. Some of the most peculiar characteristics of the Gulf of Mannar National Park are:
Although mangroves and seagrass dominate the ecosystem around the National Park, the broad-leaved tropical forests and pristine beaches are quite popular among tourists. The vegetation at the National Park includes flowering herbs and different seaweed species that provide feeding ground to animals of the region.
Dugong, an endangered marine mammal, is the main attraction of the Gulf of Mannar Marine National Park. This place is home to different vulnerable whales like humpback whales, blue whales, fin whales, etc. Other notable vertebrates at the National Park include green turtles, olive ridley turtles, spinner dolphins, Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins, etc.
Among invertebrates, the National Park is an important habitat for several rare lobsters, crabs, shrimps, oysters, and many more. Over 100 species of hard coral make this place one of its kind. The National Park also witnesses a variety of migratory birds throughout the year. Exclusive birds like Broad-billed Sandpipers, Crab plovers, flamingos, and other seabirds make this place a paradise for bird-lovers.
Places to visit near Gulf of Mannar Biosphere Reserve
Below are some best places to visit near gulf of Mannar biosphere reserve.
The serene island of Pamban, situated between Sri Lanka and the Indian Peninsula, is the perfect place to unwind. Breath-taking beaches with coconut trees, crystal clear water, and lush green surroundings make this island a nature lover’s paradise. Pamban Island overlooks the confluence of the Indian Ocean and the Bay of Bengal and houses the sacred pilgrimage destination of Rameshwaram.
The mythology of the Ramanathaswamy Temple dates back to the Ramayana era. According to Hindu mythology, Lord Rama, while returning from Sri Lanka after killing Ravana, installed a Shiv Ling at the temple site. Later, a Pandya King constructed the Shiva temple in the 12th century. The temple has a 1000-pillared hall and is one of the most sacred pilgrimage destinations in India.
The 50 km long natural bridge connects India to the neighbouring country of Sri Lanka. Also known as the Rama Setu, Adam’s Bridge is an age-old, natural structure made from a chain of sandbanks and coral reefs. According to Hindu mythology, the bridge dates back to the Ramayana era when the Vanara army of Lord Rama constructed it.
The quaint town of Dhanushkodi is a unique beach town in India where you can take a break from the hustle-bustle of your daily life. The Dhanushkodi beach, a white sand beach, is the perfect way to cut off from the world. Take a stroll on the beach or sit back and appreciate nature in its raw form – the surreal experience on the beach lasts lifelong.
Hotels near the Gulf of Mannar Biosphere Reserve
Below are the best hotels to stay in when you are visiting the Gulf of Mannar Biosphere Reserve.
Blue Coral Cottage, Rameshwaram
Perfect place for your vacation on a budget.
- Hotel Facilities: 24-hour front desk, AC rooms, Wi-Fi, room service, Parking, etc.
- Price Range: INR 740 per night onwards
- Location: 11 km from Gulf Of Mannar Biosphere Reserve
Hotel Rameshwaram Grand, Rameshwaram
Whether you are on a business trip or holiday, this top-rated hotel offers modern amenities and excellent service in its price range.
- Hotel Facilities: 24-hour front desk, Conference Room, AC rooms, Wi-Fi, Restaurant, etc.
- Price Range: INR 2062 per night onwards
- Location: 9.1 km from Gulf Of Mannar Biosphere Reserve
Daiwik Hotels, Rameshwaram
Located at the heart of the Rameshwaram, this hotel offers top-class amenities without burning a hole in your pocket.
- Hotel Facilities: 24-hour front desk, Conference Room, AC rooms, Gym, Spa, Wi-Fi, etc.
- Price Range: INR 3500 per night onwards
- Location: 8.2 km from Gulf Of Mannar Biosphere Reserve
Hyatt Place, Rameshwaram
Experience luxury at its best as you unwind in this 5-star hotel
- Hotel Facilities: 24-hour front desk, Gym, Spa, AC rooms, Wi-Fi, Business Centre, Swimming Pool, etc.
- Price Range: INR 5192 per night onwards
- Location: 8.7 km from Gulf Of Mannar Biosphere Reserve