Other Red Dot Sites: Maldives

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Jaffna Islands

The Jaffna islands are fascinating to explore. Spend a day out at Delft Island with its small village homes, wild horses that roam the plains, and ruins of a Portuguese Fort. Nainativu Island is easier to access and is home to the ancient Nagadeepa Buddhist temple and the Naga Pooshani Ambal Hindu temple.

Getting there

The Sri Lankan Navy runs a daily ferry to the island of Delft which leaves at 09:00 from the pier in Punkudutivu (located one hour away west of Jaffna town) and arrives at Delft by about 10:00. The return ferry from Delft is daily at 14:30. Get to the pier early as only a 100 passengers are taken on board. Be prepared for an adventurous and at times choppy, ferry ride packed with villagers. It is not for the fainthearted. The island of Nainativu can be accessed by a privately run boat service which also docks at the Punkuditivu pier. This half an hour boat ride costs Rs. 20/- per head and is usually full of pilgrims heading to Nainativu.

Delft Island

Located about an hour’s ferry ride away from the Punkuditivu pier, the Delft Island is equal distance to southern India and Sri Lanka. It spans across 4,700 hectares and is home to about 1,800 families. The limestone terrain here is scattered with Palmyra palm, coconut trees, and extensive plains where wild horses graze. This charming island has narrow roadways lined with small village homes fenced with coral stones piled one on top of another; a couple of old churches, the Delft post office, a hospital, schools and a few wayside shops selling the bare essentials. Except for one bus that runs when the ferry lands at the pier, there are only a couple of other vehicles on the island. Villagers go about on their bicycles; all know each other well and live in harmony. Spend a morning exploring this charming island where time has stood still. Red Dot can make arrangements for guests to be met at the pier, taken on a conducted tour in a vehicle and have traditional rice and curry meal in a village home. Interesting sites to explore in Delft are the ruins of the 17C Portuguese Fort, the Baobab tree with its massive trunk (native to Ethiopia, this species was introduced to the island by Arab traders. The only other Baobab trees on the island are found in Mannar on the North West coast); and the old stables. Head to the grassy plains and watch herds of wild horses as they graze and even strut on the beach. A truly memorable site. These horses were originally introduced to the Delft Island by the Portuguese.

Nainativu Island

Located on this island is the ancient Nagadeepa Buddhist Vihara with a stupa, Bo tree and image house that commemorates Lord Buddha’s third visit to Sri Lanka. According to the ancient scriptures, Lord Buddha visited the island to resolve a dispute between warring Naga kings. Located at the other end of Nainativu Island is the ancient Naga Pooshani Ambal Kovil dedicated to the worship of the serpent god. Devotees come from all over the island, especially families with children or couples wanting to have children, to be blessed by the Naga Pooshani Amman – the patron goddess of the kovil. This colourful kovil with a tall and elaborate Gopuram (entrance tower), hold its annual festival in July.

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