In this sea of the pearl-fishery there is an island called Manaar, over-against Ceylon, inhabited by Christians who were formerly Gentiles, and in which island there is a small fort belonging to the Portuguese. Between this island and Ceylon there is a narrow channel with a small depth of water, through which only small ships can pass at the full and change of the moon, when the tides are high, and even then they must put their cargoes into lighters to enable them to pass the shoals, after which they take in their goods again, and proceed on their voyage. But large ships going for the eastern coast of India pass by the coast of Coromandel, on the other side of this gulf, beside the land of Chilao, which is between the firm land and the isle of Manaar. On this voyage ships are sometimes lost, but they are empty, as ships going this way discharge their cargoes at Periapatam into small flat-bottomed boats named Tane, which can run over any shoal without danger, as they always wait at Periapatam for fine weather. On departing from Periapatam, the small ships and flat-bottomed boats go always together, and on arriving at the shoals about thirty-six miles from that place, they are forced through by the winds, which always blow so forcibly that they have no means of taking shelter during the passage. The flat boats go through safely; but if the small ships happen to miss the proper channel, they get fast on the shoals, by which many of them are lost. In coming back from the Indies, instead of this passage, they take the channel of Manaar, which has an ouze bottom, so that even in case of grounding they are generally got off again without damage. The reason of not using this passage on the outward voyage is, that the prevailing winds between Ceylon and Manaar frequently occasion that channel to have so little water that it cannot be navigated. From Cape Comorin to the island of Ceylon, the distance is 120 miles.
[Footnote 149: By this account of the matter, the land of Chilao appears to be the island of Ramiseram, between which and the island of Manaar extends a reef of rocks called Adams Bridge. The deep channel is between Ramiseram and the point of Tanitory on the Coromandel coast.—E.]
Of the Island of Ceylon
In my judgment, the island of Ceylon is a great deal larger than Cyprus. On the west side, facing India, is the city of Columba, the principal hold of the Portuguese, but without walls or enemies. In this city, which has a free port, dwells the lawful king of the whole island, who has become a Christian, and is maintained by the king of Portugal, having been deprived of his kingdom. The heathen king to whom this island formerly belonged was named Madoni, who had two sons named Barbinas and Ragine. By acquiring the favour of the soldiers, the younger