Jaffna Permit

Following the news last month of the Jaffna Peninsula being connected to the rest of Sri Lanka by train as a result of the completion of the re-laying of the railway track to Jaffna station after a break of two decades, restrictions on foreigners visiting Jaffna have been re-introduced.

It is still possible for foreigners to visit Jaffna (by road, air or rail) but all foreign passport holders (regardless of whether they are of Sri Lankan origin) are required to obtain permission from the Secretary, Ministry of Defence & Urban Development. The request must be made at least five working days before the proposed journey.

A modern monument in Jaffna welcoming visitors is this charming statue of a Hindu god located at Maruthanar Madham. In Jaffna this god is known as Anjaneyar who, according to legend, searched for Sita for Rama and later found her in Sri Lanka.

Jolly green giant god

Jolly green giant god

Best of the West

From October to March, the beaches on the west coast of Sri Lanka are the best. Whether you like broad strands of sand to jog along at the sea’s edge, soaring waves to surf as they splash on the shore, intimate coves for private sunbathing, or beaches lined with seafood cafés and bars, the beaches along the west coast are amazing, sunny playgrounds for visitors to Sri Lanka.

 

Being so close to the Equator, Sri Lanka’s seasons are not well defined, and there is no cool winter. The main difference in seasons is caused by the monsoons and it is from October to March (as the winds blow from east to west) that the sun shines daily, the sea is calm and along the west coast the beaches are sandy.

 

The beaches begin at the Kalpitiya peninsular, embracing the Puttalam lagoon, which is emerging as an eco-compatible resort. For fun with hectic after-beach action close to the airport, Negombo is the choice. The closest beach to Colombo is at Mount Lavinia, 12km south of the city, where locals and tourists happily mingle.

Colombo Renewal

The rejuvenation and expansion of Colombo continues at an incredible pace. Last month I wrote about the opening of the converted old Auditor General’s building by Independence Square into an ornate and upmarket shopping arcade. Now the downmarket area of Pettah opposite the Colombo Fort Railway Station is being gentrified with the conversion of a forgotten and stagnant waterway into an inspiring floating market.

 
The floating marekt adjoins Bastian Mawatha

The floating marekt adjoins Bastian Mawatha

 

The waterway is suspended between the Beira Lake and a tip of a tributary of the Kelani Ganga (river) by Bastian Mawatha (road) near the bus station, reached by walking to the right after exiting the Fort Railway station. Created by the Urban Development Authority as the first phase of a project to spruce up the entire area, the water has been treated chemically to improve its quality.