Tripin 2019 - page 65

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An island that lies off the Jaffna peninsula,
Neduntheevu sits in the Palk Strait. Commonly
referred to by its Dutch name of Delft; this oval
shaped island of approximately 50km2, is the
second largest island in Sri Lankan waters. Home
to a population of about 5000, this is an island that
is remote, unique and largely unchanged for over
two centuries. Delft can be reached via a ferry ride
of forty-five minutes to an hour from the mainland,
which leaves daily from the Kurikattuwan jetty in
Punkudutivu.
The ferry ride over to the island can often be an
eventful one, depending on the time of year one
visits Delft. Pious groups of pilgrims often line the
jetty to board ferries to Nainativu or Nagadeepa, an
ancient island first mentioned in the Pali chronciles
of Ceylon in connection with the Buddha’s second
visit to Sri Lanka in the 6th century B.C. During the
holiday periods, groups of local tourists with songs
and beating drums can provide some entertainment
on the ride, as they join the Delft locals who use the
ferry service to commute towards the mainland. To
avoid disappointment of not making the ferry and
having to charter a private boat, best check ferry
times and arrive there with plenty of time to spare.
During the rougher months, the journey can be less
enjoyable as the choppy seas make for slow and
rocky movements.
Once on Delft, the best mode of transportation is by
tuk tuk. bicycles, scooters and larger vehicles (jeeps
and smaller lorries) can be rented depending on
the size of your group. The drivers often double as
guides and take visitors on an “Island Tour” which
can last between one to five hours.
Semi-arid and dominated by Palmyra palms, the
island’s thorny shrubs and grasses grow on porous
coralline soil. One of the first things that strike you
are the coral walls that demarcate individual plots
of land. Heaped to geometric perfection, these walls
have stood the test of time. Once spanning the
coastline of Delft, early foreign inhabitants, due its
abundance and the island’s remote location, utilized
these corals. Today, many of the walls still remain
in somewhat of a deteriorated condition, while the
Photos by S. Priyadharshan - Ceylon Ramblers’ Club
ND
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