It’s not just the city of Jaffna you need to see during your visit to the north of Sri Lanka. The villages away from it and the islands in particular are a stark contrast to it, even more so from the more well-traveled towns and villages of the south. Therefore, your trip to Jaffna would not be complete without a day-trip to at least one of these islands.
Neduntheevu (Delft Island)
Neduntheevu is the largest island falling in the Palk Strait in the northern parts of Sri Lanka. It is commonly known as Delft Island named by the Dutch colonials, after the town in the Netherlands.
The first ferry to Delft Island is 8am and the ride will take approximately 1-hour from Kurikadduwan jetty (LKR80/USD0.50). Upon arriving at the pier, you will be greeted by a line of tuktuks offering to take you around to the island’s various sites for a negotiable fee.
We decided to walk instead and managed to visit some sites without paying any money! Unless you really are fancy on watching the wild horses, most of the popular sites are within walking distance from the pier.
The island life is simple yet fascinating. There are currently 5,000 villagers inhabiting on this island. We were instantly charmed by the houses and gardens which are fenced by coral-stones piled up and palmyrah leaves.
Labelled as the longest-lived species on earth, this is one of the two oldest Baobab trees in Sri Lanka (another on is in Pallimunai, Mannar). There are at least two different stories on why this tree found its way to this island; one is this was brought in by seafaring Arab Traders to Sri Lanka as a tree-totem for their animist worship, and the other is believed to be introduced by the Portuguese for curing diseases of horses.
“Growing Rock” (Dalulana Gala)
Not far from the Baobab tree is a standing coral stone is said to have grown significantly during recent decades, up to a height of over 1.5 meters.
The most significant monument from the island’s colonial past is, without a doubt, the fortress. Generally known as Dutch Fort, this unique fortress is made up of coral stones, using special mortar made out of lime, aloe vera and eggs.
Colonial Pigeon Cot
With a base of about 0.75 square meters and about seventy holes in the wider cot at the top, the dutch created this structure to keep pigeons to maintain relationships with other regions.
After almost half a day spent on Delft Island, we took 3pm ferry back to Kurikadduwan jetty. From the same jetty, we changed to another smaller boat to Nainativu Island (LKR40/USD0.20). Though this time the ride only lasted for 15 minutes, it seems forever.
Nagadipa Buddhist Temple
The first temple you will come across from the pier is Nagadipa Temple – the only major Buddhist temple in the north. Entry costs LKR500 (USD2.70) per person for foreigners and comes with a souvenir.
Naga Pooshani Amman Temple
Being one of the 16 pilgrimage sites of Sri Lanka, Naga Pooshani Amman Kovil is located at the other end of Nainativu Island. Devotees come from all over the island, especially families with children or couples wanting to have children, to be blessed by the patron goddess of the kovil. Entrance fee is free to enter the kovil.
Ferries to both islands leave from the Kurikattuwan jetty on the island of Punguduthivu. The first 776 bus leaves at 6.20am from the Jaffna private bus stand (LKR70/USD0.50). The ride takes around one hour and arrives at the jetty in time for you to queue up for the first ferry.
If you are planning to visit both islands on the same day like us, we suggest you should visit Delft Island, back to Kurikattuwan jetty, and catch another boat (interval every 15-minutes) to Nainativu Island.