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|Year and Month||December 2009|
|Number of Days||Eight Day Trip|
|Accommodation||Friend’s House in Chavakacheri|
|Transport||Volvo Bus / Van|
|Activities||Exploring / Photography|
|Route||A3 / A12 / A9|
|Tips, Notes and Special remarks||
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To Chavakacheri on A9 road
First I would like to dedicate all my travelogues written about Jaffna Penisula to all the people suffered from war, lost their lives, lost their houses, lost their children and for people who lost everything in front of their own eyes. Also I would like to dedicate this to all the soldiers who sacrificed their lives and who were injured. Because of you we were able to travel freely. So all the credit of my travelogue goes to brave soldiers stationed in Jaffna peninsula. Also I would like to dedicate my travelogue to my fiancé. Without you nothing would have been possible.
Thank you very much Mathu & Family…
A big thank goes to my Sister & Brother in Law for gifting me the wonderful camera.
We booked the Luxury AC bus in advance and it starts near Isipathana College and costs 4000 Rupees Return. (Believe me it’s worth every cent we paid) We went there by 9.30PM although bus starts at 10PM they checked IDs and then we packed our bags in to bags compartment in the bus. Bus left around 11PM. The bus is super luxury with reclining seats and headrest. But the bus has seal type windows.
I am going to insert few of the pictures I took on the way for the benefit of people who haven’t traveled to Jaffna. So if you have already traveled to Jaffna bear with me. Our main objective was not just to visit but to Experience Jaffna peninsula (We enjoyed their food, dressed like them, we learnt their traditions and most of all we respected the people and their culture) and luckily we were able to complete our objective as we traveled with one of our best friend from Chavakacheri.
Bus was traveling fast and it made the first stop in Putthalam its 131.97KM from Colombo and we freshened up and continued the journey. The second stop was made in Madawchiya which is 233.35KM from Colombo. When we reached Madawachiya it was around 5.00AM and the next stop was Vavuniya Checkpoint. We had to spend around 1 hour in check point. (As government opened A9 road there are lots of vehicles enter Jaffna Peninsula) If you are traveling in a Private vehicle it might take more time. By the way it is STRICTLY PROHIBITED to take pictures in this checkpoint.
Omanthai is a town in Vavuniya District and it was the last check point in government controlled area during civil war for many years and now they have removed Omanthai checkpoint as well as Madawachiya Checkpoint.
After Omanthai it’s prohibited to stop the vehicle, because Land mines clearing process is yet to be completed. But military has marked most of the areas which has mines. But it is wise to be careful. As “Prevention is better than cure”
All the images captured on the way to Jaffna was taken from a moving vehicle and through sealed glass window so the quality is bit low… bear with me..
According to the information we got last few days there were heavy showers and most of the area was flooded. Though I have many pictures of damaged vehicles and damaged houses I m not going to insert them. While traveling on A9 route I felt really sad while seeing the remains of war.
We passed elephant pass around 10AM and knowing that we have entered Jaffna peninsula for the first time gave us a great feeling… We reached Chavakacheri around 11AM. First day we went exploring Chavakacheri area after Lunch. Chavakacheri area was completely destroyed during war in 2000. But now people have rebuild the town and chavakacheri is a town that high cast / wealthy people live.
We have spoken to the army personal on duty that area and they are protecting the area 24/7. Most of the officers are from down south and Kandy area. They were very happy to meet us.
People in this area were very friendly but 99.99% people don’t understand English or Sinhalese. So it’s better to travel with a companion who can speak Tamil. Seeing broken buildings and after knowing what they have gone through during war period I felt really sad.
The town has all the facilities which include banks, shops, fish market, vegetable market and fuel station. But at night there are some electricity failures which are regular to the people living in that area.
By the way there are lots of cows and goats in this area. If you are a fan of fresh milk you will definitely love this place.
After spending the noon in Chavakacheri we decided to visit my friend’s father’s village in B75 Road which is the Chavakacheri – Pt Pedro Road. There were lush green paddy fields and also there were banana farms and cabbage farms.
Also we visited some of the most famous kovils in that area and got blessings. If you plan to go inside the kovil(temple) gents have to remove their shirt. Also remember most kovils it is prohibited to take pictures inside the kovil and their rituals. (Specially Nallur in Jaffna)
After getting blessings from the temples we headed back to our friend’s house had dinner and had a good night sleep. Although we traveled across Jaffna several occasions but we didn’t had time to cover Jaffna and we kept our last day in Jaffna Peninsula to cover Jaffna town.
While traveling to Jaffna on A9 road one of the most significant land mark is “Kaithady Bridge” .In 2000 troops enforced Kinihira IV Stage 1 to liberate Kaithady bridge and the bridge was completely destroyed by rebels. While writing the travelogue I m going to insert some link I found from the internet. Because people know what happened in Killinochi and how and who captured. But they mostly don’t know who and how Jaffna peninsula liberated in the past.
Credit goes to the Sri Lankan Army
Frankly speaking Jaffna town is one of the busiest towns I have ever seen, I didn’t thought of that before going to Jaffna. It has all the facilities you needed and very friendly people. Town area most people speak all 3 languages. Also there are lots of Austin Cambridges, Vauxwagen in this area for taxis and most wealthy person own this kind of vehicles in this area.
By the way if you want to buy sweets and dry fish you can get it from Jaffna. If you are interested in genuine “Palmerah” products there is a shop near Jaffna Post Office.
After our lunch which was the best biriyani I ever had in my life our destination was Jaffna Library. When we arrived there I was so happy as well as sad.
The Jaffna library was built in many stages starting from 1933, from modest beginnings as a private collection. Soon with the help of primarily local citizens, it became a full fledged library. The Library also became a repository of archival material written in Palm leaf manuscripts, original copies of regionally important historic documents in the contested Contest political history of Sri Lanka and newspapers that were published hundred of years ago in the Jaffna peninsula.
Eventually the first major wing of the library was opened in 1959 by then Jaffna mayor Alfred Duraiappah. The architect of the Indo-Saracenic style building was one Narasimhan from Madras, India. Prominent Indian librarian S.R. Ranganathan served as an advisor to ensure that the library was built to international standards. The library became the pride of the local people as even researchers from India and other countries began to use it for their research purposes. (source: http://www.en.wikipedia.org )
While browsing the library we met chief librarian and what a coincidence he was a best friend of an Uncle who traveled with us…
Destruction of the Library
An organized mob went on a rampage on the nights of May 31 to June 2, 1981, burning the Jaffna public library. It was one of the violent examples of ethnic biblioclasm of the twentieth century. The library at the time of destruction was one of the biggest in Asia containing over 97,000 unique books and manuscripts. (source: http://www.en.wikipedia.org)
We asked the current librarian whether any books left after destruction but it is sad to know that nothing was left. At time of the destruction it is said that it was the biggest library in Asia. We felt the emptiness of the library while we were browsing the library; there are so many shelves and but so little books. I couldn’t bear after seeing the below pictures. Shame on the people who did it and who supported it.
After browsing the library for few hours we planned to visit Jaffna University but we were not able to visit inside and also there were few attractions left to visit so we had to hurry.
JAFFNA UNIVERSITY ( UoJ )
The University of Jaffna was first established in 1974, as the Jaffna Campus of the University of Sri Lanka, offering courses in science and humanities. First batch of 104 students were admitted in October 1974. In 1978, with the implementation of the universities Act no. 16 of 1978, it became an independent and autonomous university as the University of Jaffna. Faculty of Medicine was established at Kaithady in October of 1978, and 70 students were admitted to it.
Next attraction was Jaffna fort; we passed this several times but didn’t had time to see it properly. But when we went there to see it properly it was sad to know that it is a high security area. Still I was able to capture lot of images of the fort thanks to my new Camera.
JAFFNA DUTCH FORT
The original Portuguese fort, where the remaining Portuguese had assembled after the fall of Colombo, had been captured by the Dutch in 1658 after a three and a half month siege. Since 1680 until the takeover by the British in 1795 the fort went though several phases of development. Thus making it one of the strongest forts in Asia. Unlike the Colombo and Galle Forts, which were fortified towns, the Jaffna Fort had an almost exclusively military and administrative purpose. All the civilians lived in the residential town of Jaffna, adjoining the fort. (Source: http://www.en.wikipedia.org)
SRI NAGA VIHARA TEMPLE
Many people confused this vihara with Nagadeepa. Nagadeepa Purana Viharaya is located in Nainathiv and you have to take a ferry from Punkuduthiv Jetty to reach Nagadeepa. (I m planning to write nagadeepa travelogue as my next travelogue)
Naga Viharaya was destroyed during war and now it is fully reconstructed.
NALLUR KANDASWAMY TEMPLE
Due to political reasons the Temple was shifted from place to place in Nallur area. Although it is believed that the first Temple was originally built in 948 A.D. at the land called ‘Kurukkal Valavu’, due to foreign invasion the Temple had to be re-constructed number of times in different places.
The third temple was established by Chempaka Perumal a ruler in the services of the southern Kotte kingdom when he defeated the local Jaffna Kingdom ruler. The third temple was destroyed by the Portuguese catholic colonials after their arrival in 1505 A.D. in Sri Lanka. (Source: http://www.en.wikipedia.org)
We visited Nallur in the evening. Nallur is the biggest Hindu temple in Sri Lanka. Nallur Murugan Kovil is owned and maintained by one family. They are the people who decide the festival dates and etc…
When you see the walls of Nallur Temple you can imagine how big it is. Actually it is very big, sacred and so beautiful. When entering the temple gents have to remove their shirts. Keep in mind that you are entering to a very sacred place and act accordingly.
When we entered the temple they started the special Pooja (if you want more details drop a mail) for Murugan which is done everyday before closing the kovil. After the Pooja they shouted in tamil that they are closing the temple. At sharp 5.15PM they seal the doors and don’t open till next day morning 4.30 Pooja.
We got blessing from Nallur Murugan Temple and sorry I didn’t take any pictures of inside. Many people from Colombo took pictures though it says”Taking pictures strictly prohibited”
I asked a Pusari to take a picture of the inside and the Pooja ceremony. What he said made me think for a moment… He said “This is a very Sacred Place and if you respect our religion and our customs obey the temple rule and asked to follow our conscience”
I respect all religions and my conscience didn’t allow me to follow my instinct.
I hope you all do the Same…
After getting blessings from Nallur Temple we did bit of shopping and I came cross a very interesting statue store.
After that we went to enjoy a ice cream in “Rio Ice Cream” which is next to Nallur Temple. It was the best ice cream I ever had in my life. It was very cheap and very tasty.
With this I m ending Jaffna Travelouge (hope you enjoyed it) and my next travelogue will be Kayts / Punkuduthi / Nainathiv(Nagadeepa)
Have a Safe Journey…..