Overview of Delft Island
Sharing the name of the quiet, canal-ringed Dutch city of Delft, Neduntheevu is one of the more prominent attractions to be found in Jaffna, Sri Lanka. The small flat island which covers an area of around 50 square kilometres, is encompassed by the shallow azure waters of the Indian Ocean, and is located a quick ferry ride away from mainland Jaffna. Hosting a population comprising mainly of Tamils and a herd of wild ponies, Delft Island is a must visit for anyone keen on exploring the full extent of the famous Northern Province, once the battleground of Sri Lanka’s divisive 30 year civil war.
Anchored on the Palk Strait, which divides Sri Lanka and India by a relatively narrow channel of sea, the oval shaped island is home to a quiet population of local residents, leading very simple lives. The islands hosts the ruins of an ancient Dutch colonial fort, and a temple more than a 1000 years old, built all the way back in the Chola Dynasty hailing from South India. The ponies inhabiting the island are also a remnant of the past, generations of offspring of those creatures abandoned here during the colonial period of Sri Lanka’s rich history. The island also featured a part in the country’s civil war between the government and the rebel-led, Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). A naval battle was fought off the coast of Delft in 2008, towards the end of the war.
If you’re looking to make a quick visit to Delft, find your way to Jaffna Town and catch the 776 bus at the crack of dawn. This will take you to Pungudutivu, from where you must take a ferry out to the island. Upon entering, you are greeted by a welcoming statute of Rev. Fr. Xavier Thaninayagam, a Tamil scholar known for setting up the International Association of Tamil Research and for organising the first World Tamil Conference.
Travelling around the island isn’t too hard given the availability of three-wheelers, ready to take you anywhere you want. Some three-wheeler drivers even offer an island-wide tour for a decent fare, if you’re interested in making your journey a quick sightseeing expedition. Some of the more popular attractions here are the Baobab tree, planted by Arab travellers many centuries ago. The tree features a human sized split in its trunk, allowing about 2-3 people to enter inside its cavernous opening. There’s also a growing rock, that is treated as a shrine overflowing with flower offerings, by the local residents. The rock is believed to grow a few inches every year. Coral seems to be the main feature of the island, and you can find traces of it everywhere, from the walls, fences and even in a desolate beach, which unfortunately isn’t the most ideal for a pleasant dip or sea swim. You can also take a quick glimpse of the remnant of weather beaten stables abandoned centuries ago, on your tour of the island.
Want to know what else you can do on Delft Island and in the neighbouring Jaffna region? Get in touch with us for more information on fun things to do on your holiday! While you wait, feel free to check out some of our other sections below on where to travel when in Sri Lanka.