Birds and Shimmer Everywhere – The Watery World of the Jaffna Peninsular

You pass the bombed out shell of the old Dutch-built Jaffna Fort and turn hard left at the roundabout, fly over a steep humpback bridge, and ahead is the startling pink of a newly painted kovil.


Cross another humpy bridge and you’re out onto the peninsular proper – water all around, tiny islets cresting the shallow tidal flats and lagoons, birds and shimmer everywhere.  You’ve entered another world. DSCN9426 - Version 2Come along for the ride as we go island hopping via a narrow  ribbon of asphalt to discover this watery world of the Jaffna Peninsular. It won’t long remain like this.  Thirty years of war has anchored it to a long-forgotten past where the only thing to mark the passage of time is the relentless movement of the tides.

Straight ahead to Kayts town, left for Nagadeepaya

The road gets bumpier as it passes through a little farming community (more of that in a special post!), before we’re at the shore again, a harbour of sorts, clinging to the rocky beach at the entrance to the next causeway.

The heat is beginning to build and the glare across the lagoon is fierce.  Most of the fishermen have taken their catch ashore to the market and headed home for a late breakfast;  just a couple remain, hopeful, like the birds, or unwilling to make the effort.  Nets lie drying across the road. DSCN9495 - Version 3 A man arrives, leading his bicycle by the hand like a friend.  Pulling it up by its rear carrier onto its’ parking stand, he smiles broadly and next, I see the man in the pale blue shirt wade ashore:

The waters here are a maze of fish traps, shrimp and cuttlefish traps lying in wait for the change of the tide.  The glare is blinding and the sun bites.

We’ve reached the end of the road.  We’ll have to abandon the security of the air conditioning and walk out onto the jetty to catch the ferry for Nagadeepaya – look, you can see the tower of the gopuram, across the water.  I think I’d better buy a hat! DSCN9540 For those of you who like following on a map (I love maps!) here’s a shot of the Peninsular from Google Earth.  Look, you can even see the jetty causeway jutting into the lagoon (bottom left, heading toward Nainativu – Nagadeepaya): Jaffna Peninsular Related Post – Speaking of Entrances, a post of and from the ferry.

23 thoughts on “Birds and Shimmer Everywhere – The Watery World of the Jaffna Peninsular

  1. such a great adventure, through a bird paradise too, and how fascinating to see an outboard motor on a bicycle! enjoying the tour thank you meredith!

  2. As we followed your journey it brought to mind the Road to Hanna and the road that crosses over the Florida Keys to Key West. All three completely different but in some way similar.
    I love maps, too. It’s wonderful to be able to track where we are going and where we have been.

  3. When I got my visa from the Sri Lankan embassy in Jakarta, I remember the officer told me to avoid going to the north. Of course what he meant was Jaffna Peninsula. So I’m really glad you went there and shared a rare glimpse of the northern tip of the island.

  4. This truly was a wonderful post. The sights were beautiful and you did a fantastic job of capturing each. Add your descriptions and this entry was a pleasure.

  5. Sparkling waterways and birds… a wonderful wander through another world. It would be lovely if places like this remained untouched by “progress”.

  6. Your stunning, serene images belie Jaffna’s bloody past. It must be such a relief to see normalcy return to this beautiful peninsula.
    Is movement of foreigners still restricted? Was surprised to read Bama’s comment, because i have been seeing tours to Jaffna advertised all over the net.

    • I was surprised too, Madhu, but sometimes officious consular staff do say those sort of things – ultra cautious, or afraid themselves! Foreigners had to ‘sign in’ as we crossed over into the northern province and there was a pretty visible military and police presence as we drove north, though a lot of that was because they’re still clearing land mines from beside the roads. We saw no indication of restrictions elsewhere, though I felt there was a lid on everything, like rules and regulations about everything. Everybody obeyed the road rules, for instance.

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