Asia

REACH HONEYMOON DESTINATION  JAFFNA BY TRAIN

Top Honeymoon Destinations_Jaffna Sri Lanka
Save on your hotel - www.hotelscombined.com

REACH HONEYMOON DESTINATION  JAFFNA BY TRAIN

Jaffna in North Sri Lanka also makes a perfect honeymoon destination forcouples wishing a probably an adventurous honeymoon. We share the experience of a honeymoon couple en route to Jaffna by train.

With the railway link to the north restored after three decades and the lifting of restrictions on foreign passport holders visiting Jaffna, Yalpanam has become Sri Lanka’s newest tourist attraction.

Jaffna’s Tamil name is Yalpanam and the popular train that used to link the capital of the Northern Province with Colombo was called Yal Devi (“Jaffna Queen”). The Yal Devi has returned to the restored railway link that was reopened at the end of 2014 and another, more luxurious, trains have been added. 
 

Mr & Mrs. Yalue (not actual name) boarded the prosaically named train Number 4021, with its all 1st Class air-conditioned sleek new carriages (made in India) at Colombo Fort station for its 0550 departure.

The honeymooner found the train actually begins its journey at 0510 at the Mount Lavinia station to accommodate the Tamil population living south of Colombo. Seats can be reserved at any major station in advance and the fare per person is US$9.90 or Rs1,500 (one-way) for the 393km journey. 

The train was hauled, and pushed, by Class S12 power set locomotives, imported in 2012-2013. There were six passenger compartments, labelled A to F, and one restaurant car, which wasn’t functioning so passengers needed to take their own snacks and drinks to have on board.

Not a good thing for honeymoon couples, but we must remember the said destination was a war-torn area.

A notice cautions:

“No Smoking. No Liquor.”

The seats, in pairs, can be turned to face the way the train is going or to make a companionable foursome for friends or family travelling together.

Seats to be avoided as they are at the end of the carriage and have reduced legroom are numbered 1, 2, 3 & 4, and also 41, 42, 43 & 44. If you hate the intrusive sight and sound of movies while travelling, then avoid the seats in the centre of each carriage (numbers 22 & 24) as they are under the centre-aisle screen.

Each carriage has two lavatories (one western style, the other eastern type) which are kept clean. All the windows, including those in the toilets, are locked, and the passenger doors at the end of each carriage are also kept locked when the train is in motion. The caution sign ending “Thank you for your kind corporation” does not refer to corporate travellers but to passenger “cooperation”.

If you want the dust, the breeze, the smells and the real atmosphere of tropical rail travel, then the Yal Devi and the Intercity with 1st, 2nd & 3rd (now known as E for Economy) Classes, are the trains to catch. But they are not as comfortable, and they make more stops so the journey takes longer.

 

 

Top Honeymoon Destinations_Train to Jaffna

The train Yal honeymoon couple caught made only two stops en route (apart from when it waited in the sidings for on-coming trains on the single track to pass), at Anuradhapura and Killinochchi.

The view from the window gradually changed from the rugged verdure to arid plains as we progressed north. I was thrilled to see a peacock, disturbed by the train, lumbering into flight from a paddy field to perch precariously on a branch.

The train drew into the newly built station of Jaffna on time and there were plenty of three-wheeler taxis available for hire. On the way to the hotel we had booked online we passed the popular Pillaiyar Inn 31 Manipay Road and dropped in to enjoy the buffet lunch of Jaffna vegetarian curries, with a side dish of chicken curry.

 

The hotel offers basic accommodation at low rates and has been in operation for many years, so it has the flavour of old Jaffna. We stayed at a so-called “boutique” hotel, the newly opened Lotus Inn at 181 Manipay Road which has bedrooms inside a former family house with balconies overlooking a lotus pond, and some new chalets in the garden. 

 

Meals are served on the balcony over the porch, or in a marquee in the garden, and are presented in individual plastic containers by enthusiastic staff.

In search of typical vegetarian cuisine, that evening we took a taxi to Mangos at 359/3 Temple Road, Nallur, a place famous among foreigners as well as locals for its massive dosas. We had read about the Masala Cheese Dosa which sounded intriguing and the waiter explained it is featured on the menu as Mangos Sp. D.

We watched the dosa being made in the open kitchen. The cook spooned the pre-prepared, already risen, batter onto a searing hot plate, sculpting it into a circular shape. He let it bubble for a while and then bunged in a lot of raw, chopped vegetables.

Why not, share with us your experience Honeymoon at Adventurous Destinations such as at Jaffna, North Sri Lanka . 

With a final flourish, he unwrapped a cheese wedge and added it to the steaming mix where it melted quickly. With amazing speed, he scooped up the pancake, rolled it and shaped it into a cone, and slapped it down on a banana leaf on a plate.

It cost just Rs280 and was crisp, moreish, crunchy, filling and packed with flavour; no wonder the place is so popular.

The main market in Jaffna is a magnet for Honeymooner or travellers in search of local products. We bought a bright basket made of dried and dyed palmyrah palm fronds in which to carry packets of sundried Jaffna prawns (great in a curry) and the locally-made cylindrical bamboo and coir moulds for making pittu (a long, round rice concoction of steamed rice flour and coconut that is a Jaffna speciality).

Jaffna is changing rapidly. The police and military presence was unnoticeable. The old crocks that used to serve as taxis have been replaced by the ubiquitous three-wheelers, or “tuk tuks” as they are called with a name borrowed from Thailand.

The driving is crazy with daredevil flare.The building is booming; a new supermarket square has been built and is flourishing, while another building, rumoured to be a hotel, is under construction next door.

However, Jaffna is still a very different Sri Lanka. It’s traditional but fast and furious, although when people do stop to share pleasantries it is with a sense of respect, not the rampant commercialism sometimes encountered in tourist traps in the south.

Honeymoonvisit Peacock Sri Lanka

After spending the night in Jaffna, we had the idea of catching a local passenger train from Jaffna to Kankesanthurai (KKS). The 3rd class ticket cost Rs30 for the 18km journey. To our astonishment, hordes of children, parents and grandmothers had decided to do the same thing.

It was Sunday morning and they were travelling, like us a honeymoon couple at fairly unpopular destionation, just for the sake of it, as the railway link to KKS had only just been opened after 30 years.

The kids were thrilled and the grandparents awed by seeing cultivation (beetroots, grapes and tobacco) and bombed buildings being restored. At KKS, everyone got out of the train, rushed to the ticket office and joined a scrum to buy a ticket to ride the train back to Jaffna.

It cost just Rs280 and was crisp, moreish, crunchy, filling and packed with flavour; no wonder the place is so popular.

Even though it was brief, the visit was worth it as I can now say I have travelled by train from the southernmost station of Matara to the northernmost one.

Back in Jaffna, before catching the train back home, we discovered a charming garden restaurant by walking to the northern end of the platform and down on to the tracks. The Golden Star Restaurant 86/2 Point Pedro Road, near the road/railway crossing, served traditional rich Jaffna prawn curry for just Rs100 per person.

The driving is crazy with daredevil flare.The buildingg is booming; a new supermarket square has been built and is flourishing, while another building, rumoured to be a hotel, is under construction next door.

With the contrast in scenery between north and south, and the fascinating people to meet during the journey, the trip to Jaffna and back is a memorable experience by train, giving easy access to the Yalpanam peninsula.

After spending the night in Jaffna, we had the idea of catching a local passenger train from Jaffna to Kankesanthurai (KKS). The 3rd class ticket cost Rs30 for the 18km journey. To our astonishment, hordes of children, parents and grandmothers had decided to do the same thing.

It was Sunday morning and they were travelling, like us a honeymoon couple at fairly unpopular destionation, just for the sake of it, as the railway link to KKS had only just been opened after 30 years.

The kids were thrilled and the grandparents awed by seeing cultivation (beetroots, grapes and tobacco) and bombed buildings being restored. At KKS, everyone got out of the train, rushed to the ticket office and joined a scrum to buy a ticket to ride the train back to Jaffna.

We did the same, spending only 20 minutes enjoying the view of the sea and the breeze. The station platform was still being surfaced, with blocks in piles awaiting fitting onto the platform.

Even though it was brief, the visit was worth it as I can now say I have travelled by train from the southernmost station of Matara to the northernmost one.

Back in Jaffna, before catching the train back home, we discovered a charming garden restaurant by walking to the northern end of the platform and down on to the tracks. The Golden Star Restaurant 86/2 Point Pedro Road, near the road/railway crossing, served traditional rich Jaffna prawn curry for just Rs100 per person.

The Jaffna railway station has a tunnel to get from one platform to another, with an amazing underground mural that would seem more appropriate at the Negombo water park.  It brightened our wait for the train back to the south. However, although the train left on time, it took an hour longer than expected for the journey back, due to delays waiting for oncoming trains on the single line after Maho.

With the contrast in scenery between north and south, and the fascinating people to meet during the journey, the trip to Jaffna and back is a memorable experience by train, giving easy access to the Yalpanam peninsula.

There are three daily trains between Colombo and Jaffna. The air-conditioned, all 1st Class, Number 4021 departs Colombo Fort at 0550; it arrives Jaffna at 1156 and returns as 4022 from Jaffna at 1345 arriving Colombo at 2000.

The Yal Devi as Number 4001 with 1st, 2nd & 3rd Class leaves Colombo at 0715, reaches Jaffna at 1853; it leaves Jaffna as 4002 at 0700 reaching Colombo at 1547.

The Intercity with 1st, 2nd & 3rd Class Number 4017 leaves Colombo at 1150, arrives Jaffna at 1815; and departs Jaffna as 4018 at 1100, arriving Colombo at 1740. Fares and schedule details available on http://www.eservices.railway.gov.lk/schedule/searchTrain.action?lang=en

Add Comment

Click here to post a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *