Annual Three Day Tour of RCPTA to Jaffna – 26th to 28th August 2017

The annual three day tour to Jaffna started at 5.00 am from the Mt. Lavinia Railway Station. 101 participants which included RCPTA members, their spouses, family members and friends joined this tour. After Mt. Lavinia there were stops at Wellawatte, Bambalapitiya, and Fort Railway station from where the other participants were picked up. We had a delicious breakfast of Kiribath provided by the RCPTA on the train. With other stops at Polgahawela, Vauniya, Jaffna and finally we arrived at Kankasanthurai at 12.30 pm. As there was a corridor running throughout the train our members who were spread in many compartments of the train were able to meet each other during the 7 hour long journey.

Our Hotel in KKS, Thalsevana Army Resort was situated walking distance from the railway station which was very convenient for us. After a refreshing lunch we booked into our rooms. We had very comfortable rooms with a glorious view of the ocean.

After a short rest we travelled in two buses to Kadurogoda Viharaya in Chunnakam. It has been declared an Archeological site and is maintained by the Sri Lanka Army. It is one of the few Buddhist temples remaining in the Jaffna district today. According to one legend, in the 16th century, Jaffna Peninsula was ruled by a king named Sangili. At that time there were 60 Arhat Bhikkus practicing meditation. Due to harassment from King Sangili, those 60 Bhikkus decided to leave Jaffna and go to India. On their way, they had stayed at the Kadurugoda area to accept alms from local residents. A mushroom curry served to them was poisoned and all of the Bhikkus had died. It is believed that these stupas were constructed with enshrining the relics of those 60 Arhath Bhikkus. Another story says that the 60 Arhath Bhikkus had died due to a famine, which was there for a long time. The Sri Lank Army is maintaining the site now.

After this we visited the Nallur Kandasamy kovil. It is one of the most significant Hindu temples in the Jaffna District. It stands in the town of Nallur. The presiding deity is Lord Murugan or Katharagama Deviyo in the form of the holy 'Vel' in the Sanctum, the primary shrine, and in other forms, namely, Shanmugar, Muthukumaraswami, Valli Kaanthar with consorts Valli and Deivayanai, and Thendayuthapani, without consorts in secondary shrines in the temple.

Back at the hotel after dinner we retired into our rooms for a comfortable rest.

Early next morning after breakfast we arrived at the jetty to board the ferry which took us to Nagadeepa temple. We listened to the Bodhi Pooja at the Nagadeepa temple. The site is known as the place where Lord Buddha came during his second visit to Sri Lanka, after five years of attaining Enlightenment, to intervene and mediate in settling a dispute between two Naga Kings, Chulodara and Mahodara over the possession of a gem-studded throne. When Buddha arrived and saw the Naga Kings prepared for fighting, Buddha used psychic powers to appear in the sky performing miracles. This made the Nagas astonished and happy. After having listened to the Dhamma sermons displaying Buddha's masterly knowledge of unity and harmony, meththa and compassion, the Naga kings paid homage to Buddha with overwhelming faith. The throne was offered to him in unison and they became pious devotees. The Nagadeepa Vihara has been reconstructed, and developed in the times of King Devanampiya Tissa and Dutugemunu and to convert it into a sacred place. The Sri Lanka Navy provides security in the area.

We were then treated for tea with Vadai by our very own member Mr. Ratnasabapathy. It was very welcome at that time. Thereafter arrangements were made by our old boys led by Col.Samitha Imaduwa to board the same ferry to take us to the Delft Island.

At the Delft Island we were very warmly greeted by another old Royalist of the Navy, Commander G.U.T Kumara. We were treated to a tea by a leading education official who was a relative of one of our members. Commander Kumara had made arrangements for us to tour the Island in jeeps, trucks and other small vehicle so that we can see the interior of the Island. We were able to see the Delft Island ponies and the Island life. Delft, also known as Neduntivu, is a remote island in the Palk Strait in northern Sri Lanka. The island is named after the Dutch city of Delft and, as always, there is also a Dutch fort on the island. This island is named as Delft in the Admiralty Chart unlike the other islands, whose names are Tamil. The island's area is 50 km² and it is roughly oval-shaped. Its length is 8 km and its maximum width about 6 km.

Neduntivu is a flat island surrounded by shallow waters and beaches of coral chunks and sand. It is home to a small population of Tamil people, mostly living in quiet compounds close to the northern coast. The vegetation is of a semi-arid tropical type, with Palmyra palms, dry shrubs and grasses that grow on the pale Grey porous coralline soil. Papayas and bananas grow close to the local people's homes. In the western coast of the island there are remains of a 1000-year-old temple built by the Chola Dynasty, as well as the ruins of a Dutch colonial fort. The water is slightly brackish, and it is taken from shallow wells using buckets made from Palmyra palm leaves.

We were then treated to a sumptuous lunch by the Navy at the Navy camp on the Island.

After lunch we left the Island by the same ferry. We didn’t feel the hour long journey as we were amply entertained by our very own Mr. Heras Fernando with his humorous narrations.

Then the organizers made arrangements for those who wanted to visit Dambakola Patuna to pay homage to the place where the Sri Maha Bodhi sapling was brought to our Island. It is a very serene historic place. The Dambakola Patuna was used as a port in historical times. This area is considered as the place where Theri Sangamiththa landed with the Bo Sapling. According to historical records, king Devanampiyathissa (250-210 BC) visited Dambakolapatuna to welcome the guests and the Bo Sapling was later planted in Anuradapura. That is the most sacred Jaya Sri Maha Bodhiya. Dambakola Patuna Viharaya (Jambokola Viharaya) was built to commemorate this event. Today we can’t see any historical structures in this site and the most of the things are recently built ones. A replica of the boat in which Sangamitta Therani carried the sacred Bo Sapling is placed on a pond for everyone to see.

Next day morning was shopping time. Those who wanted to go shopping were taken to the Jaffna town. By midday we were given a packed lunch to be had on the train, as the train was leaving KKS station at 1.15pm. It was a very pleasant journey back home as everyone was laughing and joking on the way.

Our thanks should go out to the subcommittee for a well-organized tour. Special mention should be made of Mr. H.M Dayaratne who looked into every detail of the tour. We must also thank Mr. Ratnasabapathy, Mr. Rajasooriya & Mr. Kanapathipillai for all the support given during the tour. (Location descriptions were taken from the internet)