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|Year and Month||December 2011 (10th and 11th)|
|Number of Days||Two days|
40 (between 4 – 75 years of age)
|Accommodation||Four Tees Rest and Golden Guest House, Mannar|
|Transport||Ashok Leyland bus|
|Activities||Site-seeing, visiting places of religious interest, boat ride to Adam’s Bridge|
|Weather||Excellent weather – Madu & Mannar areas had experienced rain throughout the week but the weekend we travelled was sunny and bright. The rains had brought in life and the area was free of dust.|
|Route||Colombo -> Puttlam -> Anuradhapura -> Medawachchiya -> Madu -> Mannar -> Talaimannar and return on Talaimannar -> Murukkan -> Silavathura -> Arippu -> via Wilpattu -> Puttlam -> Colombo|
|Tips, Notes and Special remark||
|Comments||Discuss this trip report, provide feedback or make suggestions at Lakdasun Forum on the thread|
We chose Madu-Mannar as the destination for our year-end office trip after reading a number of trip reports on Lakdasun. We started form the suburbs of Colombo at about 12.30 in the night/morning as we had only two days to explore all interesting places that had been discussed in those reports. The crew was forty and we travelled in a 55-seater Ashok Leyland bus. As we started early, we reached Medawachchiya Rest House by 5.30 am and refreshed ourselves with a cup of tea. (Prior arrangements made to have tea so early!)
Dawn was breaking in as we turned off from A9 towards Madu along A14 and the misty surroundings made us feel as if we were travelling through the hills in up country.
The drive towards Madu was effortless and the road condition was superb. The only disappointment in the trip was we could not make the detour to Thanthirimale (only 8km from the main road). Actually it was not in our agenda and we saw the sign board far too late. But it would have been a wonderful experience to visit the temple at 7 in the morning!
We found an ideal place to have breakfast with the advice of Army personnel at a checkpoint. We turned towards left at Madu Police Road and after 2-3 Km came to a irrigation project called “Periyamurippu”. We had a relaxed breakfast (brought from home) and enjoyed going over a suspension bridge built recently.
Periyamurippu Irrigation Project
After breakfast we proceeded towards Madu and the road was in great shape all the way up to Madu. By 8.30 we were in Madu and we spent nearly three hours enjoying the surroundings.
We left Madu around 11a.m and proceed towards Murunkan. We stooped at the Giant Tank for a short break but could not witness any bird activity as it was almost noon. The “Jana Awanhala” operated by the Army has also closed down its operations.
Our next stop was Thirukketiswaram Kovil, a famous Hindu Kovil, which was only a few kilometers away from the main road. It was the time of the Pooja and we all took part (none being Hundu). At the end of it tasted the “Muruthan bath” – which was delicious- as well.
It was almost 1p.m. when we left the Kovil and we had lunch under a shady tree and proceeded towards Mannar.
The first attraction in Mannar was the donkeys loafing all over the town.
Since our crowd was large accommodation was arranged in two different places; Golden Guest Inn, Mannar and Four Tees Rest, Thodaweli (7km on Talaimanar Road). Golden Guest is a large house in the heart of the town converted into an inn. It has eight clean rooms with attached bathrooms and three have AC facilities. (Tel. 023 – 2250494) FourTees Rest (discussed many times in this forum) is away from the hustle and bustle of the town and has five large rooms in its old wing and five more double rooms in the new wing which was nearing completion when we visited early De cember. (Tel: 023-3230008)It has a spacious garden full of mango trees and the rooms are clean and well maintained. There are two ruined buildings opposite Four Tees Rest – remnants of the old Thodaweli Railway Station.
After a refreshing cup of tea we headed towards a nearby beach for an evening sea bath. It was a deserted beach with a few fishermen preparing their gear for the evening catch. The water was calm with hardly any waves but the Navy personnel nearby advised us not to go far. We had a dip in the warm waters till sun went down and it was so refreshing after a long day!
We had a delicious dinner of string hoppers, prawn curry, parripu and sambol at Four Tees and were fortunate to witness the full lunar eclipse in the clear Mannar sky. We ended the long but very fulfilling first day of our trip with that reward.
We planned to visit Adams Bridge and had to leave the Inn by 6 in the morning. We had only a cup of tea and Mr. Lawrance at Four Tees was kind enough to prepare sandwiches to be had on the way. We were in Talaimannar by 6.30 and it was a bright sunny morning. The early rays touching the golden beach made a lovely sight.
They had three boats which could accommodate 22 including children. (8+8+6). Since there were 40 in our crew half the crowd had to wait until the first group returned. The first group was given life jackets and instructions by the Navy on what and what not to. The ticket to the sand dunes – they are called Dancing Islands – as they are known to shift their position a bit – costs Rs.600/= per head and that includes a picnic snack and a bottle of water to be had on the way. Each boat was given a lifesaver in addition to the Navy person who operated it. So safety was ensured.
The one hour long boat ride was most enjoyable in the morning golden sun. There were many larks and seagulls around and we saw fish jumping on the waves. Our three boats were accompanied by a special life saving boat so there was hardly anything to worry – even if the boat topples there were many to save you!!
We landed on the second sand dune and spent a wonderful half-an-hour there. It had shallow pools everywhere and we saw some eggs may be laid by the sea-gulls. A different kind of grass and some flowering plants were the only vegetation on the island. It was a unique experience.
As we were about bid good bye to the miracle island our second group arrived. Luck was on our side that day. A bigger boat had come there as a ‘test ride’ and the rest of our crew had been brought in that boat. That saved us nearly three hours. Had not been for the unexpected the big boat, the second group would still be on the shore waiting for our return to get into a boat!
Thanks to the Navy all forty of us were safely back on the shore by 10 O’clock – before the harsh Talaimannar sun could show its full force.
After that most enjoyable boat trip we headed back to Four Tess, refreshed ourselves and bid good bye to Mr.Lawrance thanking him for making our stay comfortable.
We collected lunch packets from Choice Restaurant in the town. (023-2223261) Since we had given the order in advance the packets were ready for us. Must commend the food at Choice – it was delicious.
We returned on A 14 and turned towards Silavathura from Murunkan and up to Silavathura the road was in good shape. From Silavathura we turned to the right and headed towards Arrippu. It was a gravel road in bad shape running along the beach. We visited Doric House and had our lunch there.
After lunch we proceeded towards Vilpattu. We were concerned about the road condition via Vilpattu and made inquiries at a number of check points and at the Silavathura Police station. As we were given the green light we proceeded. After travelling along the gravel road full of pot holes for nearly two hours we reached the Marichchukaddi Check Point. It was past four and the response at the checkpoint reg. road condition was not positive at all. They warned us that it had rained inside the jungle and a number of vehicles got stuck in mud. But it was too late to turn back and our two experienced drivers were ready to take the challenge and we decided to proceed. We were passionate to pass through the jungle. The army at the check point warned us that we had to cross nearly 40 km of thick jungle and that we will be cut off from all communication – no phone signals inside the jungle. We understood the gravity but had no option but to proceed. I feel the Silavathura Police Station should be more aware of the road condition and this advice should be available at that point so that a traveler could go back to Murunkan and proceed via Anuradhapura without exposing himself to greater risks. Turning back at Marichchukaddi is a total waste.
Although Mannar did not receive rain during that weekend Vilpattu jungle had received rain. It was not raining when we proceeded but the muddy road witnessed previous rains. The road condition was getting worse from each step and it was becoming slippery. Although we had two very experienced drivers they had to try very hard to keep the bus on the road. We all were praying that the road condition would improve but our prayers were never answered. All we could see was the muddy road lying ahead looking more like a swamp.
Although our drivers did their best and navigated through the mud bath we got stuck thrice and each time it took nearly ½ hour to 45 minutes to pull the bus out of mud – it being a giant 55 seater Ashok Leyland. It was getting dark and we were still in the middle of thick jungle without any modes of communication with the outside word. We were beginning to question the decision we took, but it was too late.
The sun went down and we had nearly 20 more kilometers to cross. The drivers had taken the challenge well and were doing all they could to avoid getting stuck another time. As the sun went down their task became more and more difficult and we all were praying for safety.
It was pitch dark when the bus got stuck the last time and it was too dangerous to get out as we were in the thick jungle. But a few got off with torches in their hands. It was past 7.30 and all our phones were dead. To our great relief we saw a light ahead and saw some people walking towards us. It was a troop of army personnel doing their routine patrol and they were travelling in a “unicorn”. They were from the Illavankulam Check Point. They were god sent saviors and with great effort they helped us out of the mud. We were told that Illavankulam was about a 45-minute drive. That was a great relief and we proceeded in the dark. The road condition improved thereafter but we had to cross one last barrier – a narrow causeway over Kala Oya – over which water was running about 1 foot high. It was so narrow that we all feared for safety. But our experienced driver was able to navigate through that last barrier successfully and we all cheered with relief when we reached the Check Point.
It was past nine when we reached Puttalam and we stopped at a Appa Kade and had our dinner. It was past midnight when we came to our destination – completing two full days of fun and excitement. It was a miracle that we did not have to spend the night in the middle of the Vilpattu jungle. May be we were blessed as we worshiped Madu as well as the Thirukkethiswaram Kovil on our way!