Journey to Jaffna – Part 2

Journey to Jaffna – Part 2

Journey to Jaffna - Part 2

 

Our next destination was at Chankanai to locate an Old Portuguese church built of coral in 1641 and described in the said handbook as architecturally the only one of its kind in the island. We found it crammed in a busy part of a town, desolate and almost choked by weeds with three of its sturdy walls still braving all odds and the main arch which may have been its altar.

Next, we followed the sign boards, which were surprisingly frequent and helpful in finding our way to Point Pedro passing the towns of Nirvelli, Puttur and the scenic landscapes of Achchuveli. We were able to visit the jetty which is the entry port for all goods into the peninsula by sea. Our next stop was at the Point Pedro lighthouse situated close to Sri Lanka's northernmost point, which is now non- operational and houses a small army camp. From there we proceeded on part of the coastal road towards the famous smuggling town of Valvettithurai, pausing to admire the quaint old church of St. Thomas and passing the humble homes of fishing communities with hauls of fish drying on the sides of the road and found our way back to Jaffna.

 



The last day, we travelled towards Keerimalai tank and we passed the ancient Maviddapuram Kandasamy temple on our way. The road towards Keerimalai was not in a good condition, but we reach the place in an hour of journey from Chunnakam. As we got more accustomed to the peninsula with its hot sun, rich red earth, blue lagoons and groves of palmyrah trees, we began to feel the tension of its people.

All that at a first glance seemed normal harboured the suffering of a displaced people and was sometimes seen in the hopeless faces of the old and the angry stares of the young men as much like in the war scarred ruins of buildings which were once the homes of those close knit Jaffna families.Furthermore, we travelled to Kayts and I will never forget the awesome beauty on either side of the endless causeways cutting through dazzling blue seas reflecting the white clouds overhead and ending in pasture- like flat grass lands which were the islands of Kayts and Punkudutivu.


Kayts as legend has it is the place from which one of the three Magi originated bearing gifts for the infant Jesus born in Bethlehem. Taking the road passing the remains of what once were an aluminium factory and many war scarred buildings, into the town of Velanai, we proceeded to travel along the sea side road and causeway into Punkuduthivu Island.

The 20 minute ferry crossing from Punkudutheevu to Nayinatheevu which otherwise is known as the “Nagadipa” is a memorable and exotic place. To our utmost discomfort, we had to use umbrellas to protect ourselves when it started to rain heavily due to the leakage on the rooftop of the ferry boat. However, as we watched the Nagadipa dagoba approaching in the distant horizon all our discomfort was gone and our mind became filled with a sense of joy for being able to set foot upon this hallowed place.


The island of Nainatheevu is also home to the Naga Pooshani Amman Kovil famed for the blessing of the Naga goddess Mennakshi on new born infants who were carried by their faithful mothers decked in their finest saris and jewellery and their fathers in crisp new Vertis.

We spent an unforgettable three nights in the Northern peninsula and then came the time to say goodbye and start our journey back to Colombo. On our way, we once again passed the army check point in Elephant pass and entered the famous A9 route to Vavuniya. To our greatest astonishment, we were greeted by a group of young men on a rally in the shattered city of Kilinochi similar to that of a sports meet. Hence, some of them even waved and smiled back at us requesting us to join with them.

 

In overall, the journey to Jaffna was a remarkable trip whereby I got the opportunity to view many breath taking sceneries and experience the glimpses of its traditional lifestyle and the unique gastronomy. Even though, I reach safely back to Colombo, this fabulous trip would be something precious which would definitely remain on my mind forever especially the genuineness of the people and it’s strong never changing culture and customs among its citizens.