Abandon from mainland surrounded by shallow waters and beaches of coral chunks and sand, lays the biggest inhabitable islands of Sri Lanka, Delft as called by the Dutch also named as Ilha das Vacas by the Portuguese or Neduntivu as per locals. This is also the largest island in the Palk Strait, northern Sri Lanka estimated to be 4717 hectares, 8 km long and 6 km across.
To reach for this scenic island you have to travel 46km from Jaffna to the Karaikattuvan jetty in Punkudutiv Island where the ferry will take you to the island. There are 2 boats which offer service to Delft, one was a free service by RDA and the other one a paid service which cost 50 rupees to go to delft. When look beyond from the jetty towards the horizon you could see the Delft Island and the communication tower belong to the Sri Lanka Navy. Then the boat journey begins in turquoise blue sea, “the meeting place of seven seas” is few kilometers away from the jetty where there has to be whirlpool according to locals. And if you are lucky enough you could spot a whale or two playing in the sea around. With an hour’s journey you will reach to the huge coral rocks fringe shore of Delft, dry wild winds will ease the discomfort of hot sunlight to a certain extent. You will be escorted to the inland by either in a CTB bus, three wheeler, lorry or in a land master.
The visitors of Delft will be mesmerized by the scene of dashing wild ponies as they are not endemic to our country. The wild ponies are a legacy left behind by the Portuguese rulers where the Dutch and the British used them for transport. Delft also was used for breeding horses by the Dutch and the British continued the practice. The giant baobab tree is another attraction, as the trunk has a hollow large enough to walk into. Two men can stand abreast in the entrance. Baobab (Adansonia) is native to Madagascar, Australia and Africa. It was brought here by the Portuguese for medicinal purposes for the ponies.
I have no doubt that you are unaware about the birds and butterfly species of the Delft Island. A bird lover could easily spot over 60 species of Birds and multitude of butterfly species in the sparse water holes in the island. The Department of Wildlife Conservation has identified part of the Delft to be declared as a National Park under the Flora and Fauna Protection Ordinance.
One has to walk through the small Government Hospitals corridor to have a look at the ruins of the Dutch Fort, this was also used as a prison which has small rooms and 2.5 inches thick walls and believed to be made of dead coral rock. Another site of interest is the ruins of a castle built by the Portuguese. Also a pigeon house with a stone cote for carrier pigeons, the only means of communication in Portuguese times. The Dovecote, about eight feet in height is made of coral stone
Ever heard of well constructed by a devil? If not you got to see the “Devil’s Well” which was the fresh water source for entire island, which believed to be dug by a devil and is so deep which doesn’t have an end and there is water available even in the dry season. Walk few miles in to the island through the green paddy fields and small water tanks to get to the giant foot print engraved in to a stone. The Christians believe that it’s the foot print of Adam. Just few meters from the foot print is the Dutch stable.
Make sure to have a look at the “growing stone” of which measurements taken periodically show a change over the years. The islanders revere it and now have made it a shrine. Unknown by many there are ruins belonging to Dagabas (Pagodas) have been found in Delft Island as well.
You definitely must be exhausted now, traveling all over the island under hot sunlight it’s never easy to a traveler used to mild weather condition. How about having a sea bath to soothe your body? Delft has one of the most beautiful and clean beaches in Sri Lanka. One could not resist staying hours in the sandy beach and the blue waters. You will find very difficult to get your kids away from this picturesque beach as they find thousands of multi colored sea shells abundant in the beach to be collected.
Let me give some important tips to be remembered when planning your trip to Delft
- Arrange accommodation before you go to Delft
- Make sure to take some mosquito coils
- Take your National Identity Card
- Be vigilant about boat time tables.
- No Phone signals inside the Island
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