Saturday, 30 November 2013

A Stroll through Jaffna City Markets

Much of our journey was inspired by the SBS Series - "My Sri Lanka with Peter Kuruvita" (available on DVD from SBS Australia)

Every city, town and village in Sri Lanka has it's Central Markets, but Jaffna Markets features high in the spices and fragrances of this tropical island.

every spice you can imaging used in cooking

all forms of dried fish for curries

piles of fresh grown vegatables

4 different types of bananas

don't forget the coconuts

sweets, toffees, chilli peanuts, lollies, mixed nibblies.....

plenty of trinkets, cooking pots, jewellery to keep even Sharon interested

Finally the Grand Finale - LUNCH

Curried Mutton (Goat) & Vegetables, wrapped in Roti, covered in breadcrumbs & deep fried with Milk Tea

So ends a long day with an all time favourite.....

Friday, 29 November 2013

Jaffna, Sri Lanka - A Heritage Tragedy of War

Jaffna (Tamil: யாழ்ப்பாணம் Yalpanam, Sinhala: යාපනය Yāpanaya) is the capital city of the Northern Province of Sri Lanka.  With a population of 88,138, Jaffna is Sri Lanka's 12th largest city. Jaffna is approximately six miles away from Kandarodai which served as a famous emporium in the Jaffna peninsula from classical antiquity. Jaffna's suburb, Nallur served as the capital of the four centuries-long medieval Jaffna kingdom. Prior to the Sri Lankan civil war, it was Sri Lanka's second most populated city after the commercial capital Colombo.

Since the 1980s insurgent uprising, military occupation, extensive damage, expulsion and depopulation has happened. 
(Dutch Fort- extensively damaged during Civil War) 
Historically, Jaffna has been a contested city. It was made into a colonial port town during the Portuguese occupation of the Jaffna peninsula in 1619. It changed hands to the Dutch colonials, who lost it to the British in 1796.

After Sri Lanka gained independence 1948, the political relationship between the minority Sri Lankan Tamils and majority Sinhalese worsened and after the Black July pogrom, civil war erupted in 1983. Jaffna was occupied by the rebel Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in 1986 and from 1989 until 1995. Indian Peace Keeping Force (IPKF) briefly occupied the city in 1987. The Sri Lankan military gained control in 1995.

Much of Jaffna's historic and heritage buildings were extensively destroyed during the Civil War.  It is truly heartbreaking to see the losses.

(1880's British Governor's Mansion)

 It is home to the popular Jaffna library that was burnt down in 1981 and has been rebuilt.

Jaffna Library - 31st May 1981
28th November, 2013

An abandoned home

Mercifully, many of the old Churches managed to survive, but there is little local interest in their preservation.  Minority religions

St Martin's Seminary

Another building to survive the ravages of war and time is the Mandrimanai (Minister's House). During the existence of Nallur Rajadhani, last king of the kingdom of the people in the northern part of the country was Sankiliyan.But with the arrival of the Portuguese rule in Sri Lanka the fall of the kingdom was inevitable.

The arch was found in the land where the earlier Tamil King Sangiliyan's Palace stood. Now there is an entrance-arch, but this is said to be part of a later Dutch building.

We are always quick to reflect on the human tragedies of war, but are also quick to dismiss the tragedies of destroying one's heritage, regardless of race, culture or religion.

Jaffna has slowly risen from the ashes to become a bustling city, however the conflicting religious and cultural issues that caused the Civil War are still simmering

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

On safari - Wilpattu National Park, Sri Lanka

Wilpattu National Park (Willu-pattu; Land of Lakes) is a park located on the island of Sri Lanka. The unique feature of this park is the existence of "Willus" (Natural lakes) - Natural, sand-rimmed water basins or depressions that fill with rainwater.

Located in the Northwest coast lowland dry zone of Sri Lanka. The park is located 30 km west Anuradhapura and located 26 km north of Puttalam (approximately 180 km north of Colombo). The park is 131, 693 hectares and ranges from 0 to 152 meters above sea level. Nearly sixty lakes (Willu) and tanks are found spread throughout Wilpattu.

Wilpattu is the largest and one of the oldest National Parks in Sri Lanka. Wilpattu is among the top national parks world renowned for its Leopard (Panthera pardus kotiya) population. The Leopard population in Wilpattu is still not yet known. Closed for 19 years due to the civil war it has only re-opened in 2010.

The first safari starts at 6am at the Park's front gate.  The previous night's heavy rain has made the tracks wet and slippery as well as erasing any animals tracks.  Early morning is very dull & overcast, but it brings out the bird life - Crested Serpent Eagles, Fish Eagles, Green Bee-eaters, hundreds of water birds.

We travel across the Park & stop at the coast near the volcanic rocks formations that caused Sri Lanks to separate from the Indian sub continent.

Leopards still remain elusive and despite following a fresh set of tracks, we eventually admit defeat.
 Porcupine (top) : Leopard (bottom)
On the way home, we come across a lone bull elephant happily eating his way through the warerplants in a nearby lake.

Our second safari starts in bright hot sunlight.  It changes the whole jungle with most animals seeking the cool to escape the heat.

We try a more northern approach and fresh leopard and bear tracks are frequently located but still no sign of either.

On on track we encounter a lone elephant happily munching his way through the leaves.

Late afternoon brings a heavy rain storm and most every animal except the waterbirds & Spotted Deer seek the shelter of the jungle.  We decide to end the safari early and head back towards the entrance.

About 20kms short of the entrance, we encounter a pair of Golden Jackals, who pose for us before leaving.

A short distance up the track, truck passes us and immediately our driver & tracker take off up the road.  Success !!!!.....just ahead is a Sloth Bear....he certainly doesn't appreciate having his meals interrupted and quickly show a fast set of heels, but not before we manage some video & photos.

We are elated as we had really wanted to see a Sloth Bear to top of our Sri Lanka Wildlife List. This is our first and only Sloth Bear

Back at Teal Cottage ( )  we are happily greeted by Sisi who will be our driver and companion for the rest of our stay in Sri Lanka.  A couple of beers, dinner and ealy to bed for any early morning 197km drive to the northern most city of Jaffna.

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Anuradhapura - Sri Lanka

Anuradhapura (අනුරාධපුරය in Sinhala, அனுராதபுரம் in Tamil) is a major city in Sri Lanka. It is the capital city of North Central Province, Sri Lanka and the capital of Anuradhapura District.

Anuradhapura is one of the ancient capitals of Sri Lanka, famous for its well-preserved ruins of ancient Sri Lankan civilization. It was 3rd capital of the Kingdom of Rajarata after Tambapanni and Upatissa Nuwara.

The city, now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, lies 205 km north of the current capital Colombo in Sri Lanka's North Central Province, on the banks of the historic Malvathu Oya. It is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world and one of the eight World Heritage Sites of Sri Lanka.

It is believed that from the 4th century BC, it was the capital of the Sinhalese until the beginning of the 11th century AD. During this period it remained one of the most stable and durable centers of political power and urban life in South Asia. The ancient city, considered sacred to the Buddhist world, is today surrounded by monasteries covering an area of over sixteen square miles (40 km²).

The city is also home to many Buddahist temples commonly called stupas.

The Old Town offers a wide choice of meals our favourite being Kottu Roli Chicken.