The Lost Continent of Kumari Kandam

The Lost Continent of Kumari Kandam

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Most people are familiar with the story of Atlantis, the legendary sunken city as described by the ancient Greek philosopher Plato. Till this day, opinion is still divided as to whether this story should be understood literally or taken merely as a morality tale. Further east in the subcontinent of India is a similar tale, though it probably is less well known compared to that of Atlantis. This is the ‘lost continent’ of Lemuria, frequently connected to the legend of Kumari Kandam by speakers of the Tamil language.

The term Lemuria has its origins in the latter part of the 19 th century. The English geologist Philip Sclater was puzzled by the presence of lemur fossils in Madagascar and India but not in mainland Africa and the Middle East. Thus, in his 1864 article entitled ‘The Mammals of Madagascar’, Sclater proposed that Madagascar and India were once part of a larger continent, and named this missing landmass ‘Lemuria’. Sclater’s theory was accepted by the scientific community of that period as the explanation of the way lemurs could have migrated from Madagascar to India or vice versa in ancient times. With the emergence of the modern concepts of continental drift and plate tectonics, however, Sclater’s proposition of a submerged continent was no longer tenable. Yet, the idea of a lost continent refused to die, and some still believe that Lemuria was an actual continent that existed in the past.

One such group is the Tamil nationalists. The term Kumari Kandam first appeared in the 15 th century Kanda Puranam, the Tamil version of the Skanda Puranam. Yet, stories about an ancient land submerged by the Indian Ocean have been recorded in many earlier Tamil literary works. According to the stories, there was a portion of land that was once ruled by the Pandiyan kings and was swallowed by the sea. When narratives about Lemuria arrived in colonial India, the country was going through a period when folklore was beginning to permeate historic knowledge as facts. As a result, Lemuria was quickly equated with Kumari Kandam.

Bhagavata-Purana, 10th Skanda

Bhagavata-Purana, 10th Skanda. Image source .

The story of Kumari Kandam is not regarded as just a story, but seems to be laden with nationalistic sentiments. It has been claimed that the Pandiyan kings of Kumari Kandam were the rulers of the whole Indian continent, and that Tamil civilisation is the oldest civilisation in the world. When Kumari Kandam was submerged, its people spread across the world and founded various civilisations, hence the claim that the lost continent was also the cradle of human civilisation.

So, how much truth is there in the story of Kumari Kandam? According to researchers at India’s National Institute of Oceanography, the sea level was lower by 100 m about 14,500 years ago and by 60 m about 10,000 years ago. Hence, it is entirely possible that there was once a land bridge connecting the island of Sri Lanka to mainland India. As the rate of global warming increased between 12,000 and 10,000 years ago, the rising sea levels resulted in periodic flooding. This would have submerged prehistoric settlements that were located around the low-lying coastal areas of India and Sri Lanka. Stories of these catastrophic events may have been transmitted orally from one generation to another and finally written down as the story of Kumari Kandam.

One piece of evidence used to support the existence of Kumari Kandam is Adam’s Bridge (also called Rama’s Bridge), a chain of limestone shoals made up of sand, silt and small pebbles located in the Palk Strait extending 18 miles from mainland India to Sri Lanka.  This strip of land was once believed to be a natural formation, however, others argue that images taken by a NASA satellite depict this land formation to be a long broken bridge under the ocean's surface. 

The location of Adam's Bridge between India and Sri Lanka

The existence of a bridge in this location is also supported by another ancient legend.  The Ramayana tells the tale of Sita, Rama’s wife, being held captive on the island of Lanka. Rama commissions a massive building project to construct a bridge to transport his army of Vanara (ape men) across the ocean to Lanka. 

As with most so-called myths, it seems likely that there is at least some truth to the ancient Tamil legends of Kumari Kandam, but just how much, is yet to be determined.

By Ḏḥwty


Jayakaran, S. C., 2011`. The Lemuria Myth. [Online]
Available at:

Mahalingam, N., 2010. Lemuria and Kumari Kandam. [Online]
Available at:


When we don't have enough information, we should decide that "we don't know."

Why is there a division, here? Should there be? For those who think Atlantis was pure fiction, show your proof! For those who think that Atlantis was real, again, show your proof!

We have startling evidence that proves an Atlantis-like event occurred right when Atlantis supposedly sank into the ocean. This alone doesn't prove Atlantis, but it holds open the door. Perhaps the door should be held open so long as we don't have proof against it.

The article errs by saying that with the existence of "the modern concepts of continental drift and plate tectonics, however, Sclater’s proposition of a submerged continent was no longer tenable." Really? How does plate tectonics make such a lost island untenable? A major convergent boundary occurs south of India and Sri Lanka. Mountains (and islands) occur where plates converge.

The movement of tectonic plates is extremely slow, making the time when Madagascar and India touched long before lemurs existed. By about 65 Ma, when lemurs first evolved, Madagascar and the Indian island were separated by about 1,000 miles.

There is still a great deal we do not know. Too many jump to unfounded conclusions. Even I do, on occasion. We need to be aware of this and err on the side of restraint (not skepticism).

There is an exceptional book on Atlantis written by the Late Prof. Santos called, Atlantis - The Lost Continent Finally Found. He was a nuclear physicist from Brazil who actually set out to prove once and for all that there never was any Atlantis & that it is only myth. He researched on this topic for over 10 years after which he came to the conclusion that not only was Atlantis a real continent, but he gave very, very good & plausible reasons to where its location was. And if that is to be believed then Atlantis & Kumari Kandam would be the same continent that was lost beneath the seas. Interesting, isn't it? :)

There is likely more than one 'lost continent" especially if the Bering Land bridge theory is correct. If the waters were low enough for that land to have been exposes, the Mid-Atlantic mountain range would have been exposed (Atlantis). Lemuria would have been exposed. the Polynesian Islands would have been Mountain tops on a larger Continent (as their native legends claim). Japan would have been connected to China as their legends claim.

I just wanted to say, that we all must keep an open mind, for we do not know truly what the history of this planet is. And thank you for your well stated comment.

I agree with you and we can't know what could have happened in the past unless we were there.So we shouldn't be judgemental


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