Sunday Morning in Mannar Fort

It’s only 6 a.m. on this barmy Sunday morning. Our drive up and down the Mannar causeway in search of flamingos was futile. Except for some waders and an awesome sunrise reflecting off the water, there was nothing much to see. 

Since the day was still young, we decided to drive into the Mannar Fort, which is located right off the causeway.

A man raises dust as he vigorously sweeps the ground clear of last evening’s leaves. A couple more stand around, brushing their teeth and getting ready for the day. They are workmen from the Archeological Department who have been entrusted to restore this crumbling Fort. From across the lake, the sounds of the choir at Sunday mass drifts over. It’s another beautiful day in Sri Lanka. 

This crumbling Fort was once upon a time an imposing Portuguese-Dutch stronghold. Built by the Portuguese in 1560, this quadrangular Fort once contained a chapel, living quarters, prison cells, etc., all surrounded by a moat.  

Despite the deterioration, several gravestones can be seen where the chapel once stood.  

In 1658, the Portuguese surrendered the Fort to the Dutch who rebuilt it in 1686. On October 5, 1795, the British took command of the Fort after the Dutch surrender. The British were especially drawn to Mannar because of the country’s nascent pearl fisheries. 

Two watch towers still stand the test of time.  

Mannar draws crowds during the early part of the year because of the flocks of Flamingos and amazing birdlife. But apart from that, Mannar has some wonderful sea bathing spots and interesting history

For comfortable, and affordable accommodation, you must try El Shaddai. Run by a young family, El Shaddai is clean and quirky, the food is tasty and the location is perfect.

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