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|Year and Month||February, 2012|
|Number of Days||3 days|
|Crew||Group of 30 consisting males, females and children. 6 adults branched off to visit Delft|
|Accommodation||Private house with AC and other facilities other than cooking|
|Transport||42 seater bus|
|Activities||Enjoying the bio diversity of Delft for first time and going through remains of bitter war|
|Weather||Cloudy with bit of rain|
|Tips, Notes and Special remark||
|Comments||Discuss this trip report, provide feedback or make suggestions at Lakdasun Forum on the thread|
Before starting the trip report, I wish to share a nice experience with our members.
As most of our members are aware through my “Help Planning Request”, I intended to go with a large group to Jaffna and branch off to go to Delft. Factually it was our annual office trip which decorates by 7 families, (trigger, stock and barrel) and we are very concerned about accommodation as very fragile wives and kids are involved.
Knowing about the condition of Thal Sevana Rest at KKS managed by Sri Lanka Army, I took over the responsibility of arranging accommodations. I called Thal Sevana in November last year to make the booking as our intended dates were around 4th February which was a long long weekend. The booking officer was very friendly and praised me for wisdom of early booking. I reserved 5 AC rooms, each room has 6 beds, at the cost of Rs.1000 per day. When I insisted paying an advance, the booking officer assured me that we could pay at the time of departure together with the bill for meals. When I expressed the need for a firm booking, the booking officer asked me “Don’t you trust Army?”.
So happily we made other arrangements such as booking the bus, drawing up the route, meal arrangement etc.
During next three months, I got so many calls from army officers of various ranks, asking me whether I have any idea of canceling the booking. I told all of them that I have no such intention.
On the 25th of January 2012, around 10.30 at night, I suddenly got a call from Thal Sevana. A major, who introduced himself as the Manager of Thal Arana, told me that he just received an order from MOD canceling all bookings up to 8th of February!!!!!!!
I was shocked and felt like kicked by a beggar.
“Why?” I asked.
“A VIP Group is coming to occupy the rooms during week end”
“ What type of VIP would accommodate a 6 bedded room?” I asked.
“ You know sir, VIP won’t come alone. Some senior Army officers too are affected by this order. I am very sorry Sir, We are helpless”
As he was so embarrassed and really upset I did not want to remind “Don’t you trust Army?” statement.
So after that, it was a real struggle to find a suitable place to accommodate our group.
So please have your fall back plan, if you intend to book Thal Sevana.
Sorry. Its bit long but you should know the actual situation to avoid such pitfalls.
We started around 12 mid night and visited Iranaimadu Ares by late morning.
Our next stop was the house and bunker of Thamil Chelvam which was later bombed by Air force. Thamil Chelvam survived to be killed somewhere else.
After Irranaimadu, we traveled to Jaffna and settled down.
In the evening, we visited Jaffna Fort.
After settling down at the place reserved for 2 nights, we went to Rio Ice Cream Parlor near Nallur Kovil, which is said to be a place not to miss on a Jaffna trip!!!
We found ourselves in a fierce battle with a brimming crowd of visitors who do not want a separate country, but variety of sizzling, colorful and tasty ice creams in all possible tastes and sizes. Prices were very reasonable. You should not miss that!!!
TRIP TO DELFT
Delft was formerly named as Nadanthivu and it is believed that Dutch renamed it as Delft. It is the furthest habited island towards west from Jaffna peninsula. Historically Delft had been a transit island for India and Sri Lanka and there are families with Indian origin in some parts of the island. Ruins of 3 Stupas are evidencing for a Buddhist culture believed to be dated before the official introduction of Buddhism to the country. Archeological Department has lot to do on this subject, but unfortunately still they have failed to identify the ruins as a site of archeological value sufficient to mount at least their somewhat absurd common bill board !!!
Delft is situated 11 kilometers away from the Punkudutive Jetty (common jetty to Naagadeepa). This distance is 9 kilometers from Nagadeepa. Delft is a separate Divisional Secretary Area in extent of 48 sq. Kms (Big island). It contains 14 villages with 1346 families and the total population is 5042.
Five of us branched off from the main crowd and took 5.30 AM CTB bus to Naagadeepa/Delft ferry point at Punkudutive with the intention of catching 7.30 AM ferry to Delft.
Previous day, we contacted a Navy officer on duty at Delft and got the confirmation that there would be 2 ferries in the morning.
When we went to ferry point, it was so crowded and there was a long long queue for Naagadeepa ferry. No one believed that our destination was quite different and did not allow us the pass through. When we sought help from an army officer, we were informed that Delft ferry was not working on that day. According to him, it was broken down. We insisted to go and check ourselves and finally he allowed us to pass through despite of the huge protest of general mass who did not believe our Delft story.
When we walked about a kilometer to the ferry, Delft ferry was there at the point of leaving !!!!. After another heated battle, we were able to get in to the ferry as last passengers.
Bit of advice – Don’t believe any statement about Delft ferry service. All sources we met, official and other, had only vague ideas about the ferry service. Just go and take the chance.
Once settled down for the unknown trip of 10 kilometers, we were bit nervous. However there was another group belonging to a bird watching society from Colombo who had visited Delft previously. They assured us that life jacket can float a person for 24 hours in the open sea!!!! Fat assurance when you are in the belly of a boat with limited escape route!!!
However, the morning ride was peaceful and we really enjoyed sight seeing.
Our friendly Navy Officer has already booked two three wheelers for us and they were waiting at landing point.
Delft has a limited internal transport facility consisting of one CTB bus (which we never saw), one Canter lorry, one or two land masters and few three wheelers. The bird watching group had advanced booked the Canter and we witnessed a big confusion among other people who expected some form of transport to hire.
Advice – Please arrange your transport before hand if you intend to visit Delft. The young boy who drove our three wheeler is Bimalan and he can be contacted via his mobile No.0773945146. He can speak passable English but for a detailed dialogue, you have to use Tamil.
Our first visiting point was ruins of Portuguese or Dutch Fort.
To reach the Fort complex, you have to go through the Government Hospital and we were bit reluctant to do that as it was not visiting time. Realizing our difficulty, a lady with a charming smile invited us to pass through. She must be the only doctor in the hospital. We wanted to have a chat with her on our way back, but she was nowhere to be seen. At that time 2 patients were in the hospital.
According to our three wheeler driver, the hospital has very limited resources and any seriously ill is immediately transferred to main land by ambulance!!!. I can’t imagine a heart patient going through that 11 kilometer ride in rough sea at night.!!!
Fresh water supply is limited in the Island. We saw one place with several wells used by islanders.
While on our way, we came across a pooja in a kovil. They were very happy when we mixed with them. Unfortunately the language barrier was glaring. Shame and late to realize our ignorance of the language used by a mass community in the country.
The Giant Foot Print was our next destination.
The entire island seems to be formed on a lime stone layer. It is like a “ Pop Out” from the sea bed some years ago.
The Giant Foot Print is a natural impression on the layer of lime stone. However better to stick to the Belief rather than going to scientific analysis as Belief keeps you with general mass where you belongs to.
On our way back, a drunk visitor was openly blaming the islanders for carving the Big Foot to attract visitors. I was so furious and had to silent him with a flow of arguments.
In Delft, there are visible remains of 3 Sthupas. No archeological investigations were done so far, but evidencing remains say a big story to reveal.
According to Mr. Victor Lanerole (Author), there were two places in the country where wild horses were living. One place was Nawagamuwa near Hanwella in the Kelani Valley Basin which is Mr. Lanerole’s village. Other place is Delft. In Nawagamuwa, there are no more wild horses at present. In Delft, you can still see this beautiful creature, proud as ever.
Nawagamuwa and Delft have one thing in common. Both places had a Portuguese Fort and a horses training center. So the wild horses can be accounted for.
We had to make a run to capture wild horses, but it was worth to see them. They allowed us to approach them to a certain distance before a graceful departure, not a run like other bulls and cows did.
After that pleasing episode with wild horses, we came back to old administrative complex adjoining Dutch (Portuguese?) Fort. It seems the British too had added some buildings to this area. Near the carrier pigeon dwelling tower, there are remains of a British court house and a prison. New administrative buildings too are in the same vicinity.
Wish Archeological Department would take some positive steps to preserve these historical evidences.
As in Mannar, Delft too has a huge Baobab tree (Adansonia digitata) to attract visitors. The Baobab tree is said to be brought to the country by Portuguese or Dutch from Africa as a tree of medical value to treat horses.
The Baobab tree in Delft is more than 50 feet in diameter with a height of 45 feet. The cavity inside the tree can shelter more than 10 people in case or a need!!!
Growing Stone is a place of worship of islanders. The rock formation reminds a growing corral.
The sea was so rough on return trip and all passengers wore stern faces till they see Naagadeepa island.
We expected to get a hitch hike from ferry point to Jaffna as so many busses were around. Unfortunately no one was willing to give us a transport back so finally we had to settle down with common transport which was so crowded. It was not a pleasant trip back as we were so tired and hungry. Throughout the trip we were wondering why those people who were just after a pilgrim did not give 6 decent looking individuals (including 3 ladies) a transport back to Jaffna.
Next day, while we were on tour in Mullaittivu, we saw one of the busses that refused us was in real trouble. Near the beach where the ship Fara is shored, this bus had gone off road and bogged in sand. So many busses and people were around but no one was giving a serious help to rescue them. Our crowd led by our bus driver struggled for one hour and were able pulled back the bus to the road.
After their heart felt and non stopping thanks were over, I reminded their Nadee Gura that, on the previous evening, they refused to provide 6 of our group a transport on the lame excuse that they may not go back to Jaffna. Hope they would be more civilized in future!!!
While we were in Delft, the remaining members of our group had visited all places around Jaffna. So after a half hearted singing session, we wound up for the day.
We started around 4 am to cover Mullaittivu area. An army soldier joined us just afte Paranthan by pre arrangement. As it was a long week end, so many vehicles were on the road and penetrating dust was like a pink mist. All places of interests were crowded and long queues were seen.
Our army escort is the youngest of a family of three boys. Eldest was an army officer killed in action. Second brother has lost him arm while in battle. Youngest has miraculously escaped any major injury and had lot of experience to share with us. His mother was decorated by Army for giving 3 boys to save the country.
Our war hero, who was aware of the fact that we were backed by a senior army officer took extra care to take us to all places worth visiting and used some influence too to bi-pass long queues!!!
Following are some photos taken while on the tour through the last battle field.
First Bunker of Prabhakaran.
It looks like a normal brick walled building but walls are 4.5 feet thick. The underground was well equipped.
In the adjoining plot of land, a toy car used by Prabakaran’s younger son was mounted as an exhibit.
The farm developed by Prabha is an extensive project launched with a mission. Presently the Army is maintaining it with same enthusiasm.
From this point onwards, we were passing an area where lot of abandoned vehicles and cycles could be seen.
There was a huge crowd to see Prabhakaran’s main bunker. Even army found it difficult to control the mob. We were compelled to seek assistance of a senior army to visit the bunker through back door!!!!
That bunker has 4 levels down from ground level. It is constructed to withhold any attack and the entire bunker has been air conditioned. There is a separate emergency exit too. With the crowd, the place was suffocating.
Our next stop was the swimming pool located in a different area. All places frequented by Prabha are strategically located in different areas.
The War Museum at Puthukkudiyiruppu is attractively arranged exhibition of warfare used by LTTE. The War Memorial constructed to mark the end of 30 years war too is located nearby. Army personnel took extra care to explain the exhibits in the museum.
Our final destination was to the sea shore where the captured ship “Fara-3” is landed. The Army maintains a beer parlor and a canteen with other basic facilities at this point. We had our very late lunch there.
We left the place around 7 PM after helping to rescue a bus bogged in sand. We crossed Wadduwakal Causeway to reach Mullaittivu in growing darkness. It was pleasing to see local fishermen fishing under traditional torches in Nanthi Kadal Lagoon. For them, life has become normal.
Our army boy stopped at Mullattivu camp but a friend of him who wanted to go on leave to Galle joined us. He was the one who kept our driver awaken till the drive trough out the night. We came to Colombo in the morning of the Fourth day.
Every trip has a bad thing in common. IT ENDS!!!!!