Tuesday, May 31, 2011

By Bus: Mannar, Pooneryn to Jaffna: Part 2 Talaimannar and Madhu

(Part 1 here and  Part 3 here)
Day 2: One of the main purposes of visiting Mannar was to do the Navy Boat Ride to the Adams Bridge sand bank islands from Mannar. The other was to scout any coral reefs for snorkeling. More on the coral reef later in the post.
Of course there was no other info about the boat ride on the Navy website press release. Luckily while passing the entrance to Madhu, saw a big banner and a contact phone number. Called them the previous day and found that the first ride was around 7:00 am and was for 3 hours. Talaimannar is 30 km, so assuming the bus does an average of 30 kmph, it would be one hour from Talaimannar. Found out a SLTB bus from Colombo arrives around 4:30 am on the way to Talaiannar. The short story is missed the bus, it had come in at 4:10 am. There did not seem to be any buses till after 6:00 am. So bargained for a three wheeler for LKR 1,000 and the going rate can be anywhere from a LKR 1,000 to LKR 1,500. The reasonable rate is LKR 1,000, i.e. 30 km into LKR 30/km. Was in Talaimannar by 6:15 am. Had Pol Roti and Dried sprats (Hal Masso) curry for breakfast which was very tasty from a small store nearby.

Drifted towards the pier, around 7:00 am. I was the only one there. The wind was quite strong with white caps on the water implying wind speeds of at least about 18 mph. The Navy boats are small and with waves increasing offshore its quite dangerous to take them out in high wind conditions. Hung around till 9:00 am and the wind wasnt dying down so headed back to Mannar.

This operation/tour has been cancelled. Navy no longer operates tours to Adams bridge

Details on Navy-operated boat trips to Adam's Bridge
Contact Number: 023-2281081
Cost per Person: LKR 500. The boat needs a minimum of LKR 3,000 to be cost effective. So if no one else turns up, expect to pay LKR 3,000 for even one person.
Duration: 3 hours. About and hour and fifteen minutes each way, and half hour on the Adams bridge sand bank.
Other: Please call and check conditions to see if there is a possibility the seas are rough.
This is all of Talaimannar town. One street with stores and house for about 300 meters
Bank of Ceylon. Assume they dont have too many bank robberies.
The sign at the Navy entrance.
Eligibility for Sand Tour. Not Drunken, which I assume is quite often a reason for ineligibility
The light house. In the foreground a restaurant and waiting area is in the process of being constructed.
Headed back to Mannar at 9;00 am. The bus ride was less than an hour. Not many stops on the way and the bus just zoomed back.

Headed to Madhu church on an Vavuniya bus and got off at the Madhu church turn off. Its 12 km from the Mannar-Medawachiya road to the church. Its LKR 400 by three wheeler. However, if you hang around most passing vehicles will give you a ride to the church. That was exactly what I did. After standing around for about all of 5 minutes a passing van picked me and about four others going to villages nearby.

Madhu, what can I say. Nice enough church but not what I would travel hundreds of kilometers for its aesthetic value. Assume if you have faith, then it would be a different matter. Anyway, saw the place and know what Catholics (and some Buddhists) speak of when referring to a trip to Madhu. Had a decent rice and curry (beef, my favorite) from the church operated Restaurant for about LKR 120 and headed back. There are buses every two hours to and from Mannar. Anyway same process, hung around for about 10 mins and got a ride back to Madhu junction.
The main entrance to Madhu Church
Madu Church
Choice Hotel, Grand Bazaar Road. This place has mutton, cuttle fish (dhallo) and Prawns.
Finally to the Coral Reefs. Inquired around and no one quite knew about coral reefs. Some mentioned the possibility of there being reefs around Arippu. Arippu was apparently where the Pearl fisheries were located. However the photographs of this blog post show nice beaches near Arippu which does not seem indicative of coral reefs near the shore.
Some of the fisherman were also complaining that the Indian Trawlers are allowed to come in Sri Lankan territorial water twice a week. The Indian trawlers apparently do bottom trawling. To quote from wiki
Because bottom trawling involves towing heavy fishing gear over the seabed, it can cause large scale destruction on the ocean bottom, including coral shattering, damage to habitats and removal of seaweed, that clean the sea floor, destroying coral and just decimating fish populations
The deep sea fishermen around Mannar are mainly from the Negombo area and are the ones most affected by Indian bottom trawling. Apparently the local population is only involved in shallow water fishing and shrimping and as such dont care about the Indian Trawlers.

Next: Part 3: Mannar to Jaffna thru Pooneryn


  1. am jealous......but keep going buddy.

  2. Sweet, I also did the same trip 2 weeks back! haha. www.kitesurfingsrilanka.com