Rich in traditions, festivities, vibrant colors, art, and exotic flavors, Jaffna is the hub of Hindu culture in Sri Lanka. From beautifully sculptured Hindu temples such as Nallur and Nainatheevu, to monuments still standing tall from the Dutch colonial era such as the old Dutch fort, to an ancient ship docking harbor Kyts, to historically significant Jaffna library, and beautiful beaches such as Casuarina beach, Jaffna offers a lot for an explorer.
Besides all the amusement Jaffna has to offer, Delft Island is a gem that must be treasured by anyone and everyone visiting the northern part of the island. Surrounded by shallow blue water, mesmerizing corals, and isolated beaches, it was named after a city in the Netherlands called "Delft" during the Dutch colonial era.
Situated about 10 km from the Jaffna peninsula, this 4,700 hectares of land with no modern infrastructure, at first glance looks like a no man's land. It is, however, home to a community of about 5,000 people who can be occasionally spotted around the island occupied in fishing, producing dry fish, and working in Palmyra-based industries. This largely uninhabited island is best known among tourists for its large population of wild horses roaming freely with their manes waving in the salty sea breeze.
How to get to Delft Island?
An approximate 45min car drive from Jaffna town will take you to Kurikattuwan, where you can hop on to a ferry. A 45min ferry ride from there in the coral blue water of the Indian Ocean will take you to the dreamy-sunny Delft island. While your safety is assured, you must keep in mind that these are local ferries, and you cannot expect to have the most comfortable seating.
When to visit Delft Island?
The best months to visit the island are July and August, as the weather is sunny but comfy with the occasional cool breeze. While March and April also have favorable weather conditions, one might find them too warm.
What to spot on Delft Island?
Remains of the Fort:
Built by the Portuguese and expanded by the Dutch, as the only fort in Sri Lanka that has been built using corals and limestones, it is one of a kind.
The massive African Baobab tree planted by Arabic traders has thrived in harsh dry weather conditions. As a non-native plant, surviving and growing to the giant tree it is now is believed to be a wonder.
Ruins of Buddhist stupas:
Ruins of three stupas and two shrines dating back to the 1st century can be spotted on the island.
Built by coral strands, it is an ancient structure used for communication by messenger pigeons between Delft and Jaffna.
A vertically growing coral in the shape of a cobra head can be spotted to be worshiped by the locals.
It is a 40-inch footprint that is believed to be the footprint of lord Shiva or Adam.
This island with its contrasting landscape to that of the mainland of Sri Lanka is worth the visit for not only the monuments, colonial remnants, and rustic structures but also the surrounding turquoise blue water.