Gulf of Mannar Marine National Park


As one of India’s prized biodiversity hotspots, the Gulf of Mannar Marine National Park has a core area of about 560 sq. kms that extends all the way from Rameswaram to Tuticorin. Nestled deep inside the Gulf of Mannar Biosphere Reserve on the southeast coast of India, it is separated from the Palk Strait by Adam’s Bridge (Rama Bridge).

Gulf of Mannar Biosphere Reserve is one of the richest areas in terms of marine biodiversity. It has the distinction of being the first Marine Biosphere Reserve in Southeast Asia. There are at least 3600 plant and animal species here, including the rare and endangered Sea Cow (Dugong dugong). It also boasts of six mangrove species prevalent in peninsular India.

This treasure trove of marine life has 21 islands that abound in estuaries, mudflats, beaches and forests that flourish along the coast. If that was not enough, there’s more! Algal communities, sea grasses, coral reefs, salt marshes and mangroves the potential for new and wild experiences at this national park are infinite.

The coral reefs that border the islands are very productive and home to many beautiful marine ornamental fish. The beauty and richness of the reefs is such that they are often called ‘Underwater Tropical Rain Forest’.

In and Around

The Gulf of Mannar Marine National Park will delight nature and wildlife enthusiasts as it is a one-of-its-kind destination. There are dolphins swooshing gracefully through the water. You can enjoy the biodiversity of the place by viewing different types of ecosystems including coral reefs, mudflats, beaches, islands, shallow waters and mangrove forests. There are 11 varieties of sea grass here and 147 species of sea weeds including the Sea Cow, which is the flagship species of this protected area. Then there are sea anemones and 137 types of coral reefs.

The sandy beaches of the many lovely islands serve as feeding ground for five species of endangered marine turtles – the Olive Ridley, Hawsbill, Green, Leatherback and Loggerhead. It is also the breeding ground for Olive Ridley and Green turtles.

The Gulf of Mannar Marine National Park will delight bird lovers too because it is a stopover point for many beautiful migratory birds. Around 180 types of birds can be spotted here with seabirds and warders being very common. What thrills bird watchers is the prevalence of many rare birds like Crab plovers, Bar tailed Godwit, Broad billed Sandpiper, Red knot, Eastern knot, Dunlin, Red Necked phalarope and Long toed stint. A memorable sight is that of thousands of gorgeous flamingos during winter.

There is a great museum at the Park where you can get to enjoy and comprehend the many wonders of this biodiversity hotspot. Take a glass-bottomed boat, available for tourists, to truly enjoy the breath-taking beauty and diversity of the region. You will need permission to visit the islands.

Best Time

The Park is open the year round and there is no separate season for visiting the area. However, the best season considered is from October to March. The best days, though, will be on Sundays and national holidays. Visiting the islands require at least three days.

How to Reach

By Air
Nearest airport is in Madurai 150 kms away.

By Rail
Nearest station is Mandapam, Rameshwaram (7km) and Tuticorin.

By Raod
Rameshwaram is 5km away from the park and Ramanathapuram is 40 km away. There are plenty of buses available from both these places to the National Park.

Stay / Eat

Where to Stay
There are hotels in Rameswaram and Mandapam. Some of the hotels in Rameswaram are:
Daiwik Hotel
NH- 49, Madurai Rameswaram Highway,
Near Rameswaram Bus Stand,
Rameswaram, Tamil Nadu 623526

Hotel Sunrise View
1/3G, East Car Street,
Rameswaram, Tamil Nadu 623526

Hotel Queen Palace
N.H. Road, Near Bus Stand,
Rameswaram, Tamil Nadu 623526

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