The Real North Diaries Exploring The Real Killinochchi

Human beings have always shown a huge interest in the unknown. From the millions of secrets that this universe holds to the very mysteries that lie here on our little blue planet; all of this is greeted with either fear or curiosity. Every movie and every book that is from the genre of adventure starts with a mystery, and these come in all shapes and forms. It could be a message in a bottle, a journal from the 12th Century or even a little town that lives its life away from the rest of us. I warmly welcome you… to Kilinochchi.

Kilinochchi is one of the many districts that combine together to form the Northern Province of Sri Lanka. Like every other district, Kilinochchi has its own unique features that bring it out despite being a secluded district. Every step you take and every memory you have is an adventure that will keep you hooked. From ancient ruins hidden in the sand to temples and beaches, Kilinochchi has it all lined up for the perfect adventure.

Our little adventure starts of at the Thalaiyadi beach. What a beautiful sight! The sand is incredibly white and soft. It almost feels like you are walking on a gentle cloud. Even if you fall down, there is an extremely slim chance of you injuring yourself which is a big win for me as I am quite clumsy. The surreal moment as water laps against your feet while you dig your toes into the soft sand is divine. It’s interesting because the sand here does not leave footprints behind. What’s more? It is home to beautiful sunsets where the sky explodes in crimson, yellow, vermillion and violet.

Next, we went to see the Palmyra production centre where people create a plethora of products from the Palmyra tree. The ever-ingenious people of the North build buckets, hats, punnet, and even the deliciously sweet jaggery. In a world that has been taken over by plastic and is now trying to move away from it, the people of the North have utilized the Palmyra tree and have been creating eco-friendly solutions for daily routines.

As we wondered along, taking in the adventure that we had embarked on, we came across a beautifully kept garden with a monument that has incredible depth to it. The wall of the monument symbolises the country while the mortar shell symbolises the devastating civil war that everyone in this beautiful island experienced. It is truly a cultural adventure that humbles you and makes you realize more depth of the symbolism. Right in the vicinity, you can also find the remnants of the main water tank that was destroyed during an attack.

We returned from our harrowing experience to an adventure in a far more natural setting. We entered the Chundikulam Forest to gaze upon the wondrous and beautiful flora and fauna that reside there. This is a wonderful place for all bird watching enthusiasts. The pink flamingos were truly a beautiful sight as they walked around looking for their mid-day meal. The area is mostly mangroves and seagrass beds. After a relaxing experience, we decided to head back and go check out some local sights in the city where we encountered a handloom center.

These centers specialise in weaving clothes using super high-quality materials that are even sold in metropolitan cities like Colombo. The amazing thing about this center is that most of the workers are people living with disabilities and they are all compensated well. It is a won- derful notion and the beauty of it is the proof of no social stigma and everyone accepts everyone.

The Toddy Centres open at 6 am to all those who fancy a drink or to those who need to top up on their stock. It’s all done and dusted by 9 am. Within a span of 3 hours people get what they want and get on with the rest of their day. The toddy is harvested from the Palmyra tree and kept in clay pots so that the toddy doesn’t come in contact with metal containers. You drink it straight with no artificial preservatives added.

The adventure continues and we find ourselves at the Iranamadu Tank, which was built in the 4th Century by King Dhatusena. However, with the British incursion, it was severely neglected. Its repairs were completed by 1921 after the British left and now this iconic landmark irrigates almost 22,000 acres of land.

Traveling through Kilinochchi is a non-stop adventure which will always keep surprising you. We found ourselves at the Sivan Temple that was built by a Chola King (longest ruling Indian dynasties in the world). The temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva and is found in the middle of a sand dune. It provides such an Indiana Jones experience as you make your way through the dune to witness this beautiful ancient structure.

Our next adventure was at the Manniththalai Beach. This beach is very close to the sand hills and is one of the most beautiful beaches. What’s astounding about this beach, is the presence of incredulously big butterflies. What’s more? They are all a beautiful shade of red and are roughly about the size of your palm. The vegetation and Palmyra trees around it give it the vibe of a jungle beach.

For those with a greater sense of exploration, I recommend the Sand Hills of Maniththal. While it is one of the lesser-known areas of the country, these sand hills count as the closest thing to a desert in Sri Lanka.

An amazing spot for a different type of hike where you can find the Manniththal Church as well. With the sand dunes on one side and the beach on the other, it is almost as if someone drew a line and divided it into two sections of massive contrast. It is a truly wondrous mystery indeed as to how it fits geologically. The even bigger mystery is that when we went exploring, we witnessed treasure that was made out of gold in the temple. It’s all protected but it gives you the experience of truly being Indian Jones or Lewis and Clark as you explore the unexplored in Sri Lanka.

Kilinochchi is peppered with cultures from all over the world. For example, there is the Sivan Temple from the Cholas and then there is the Pooneryn Fort built by the Portuguese. After the Portuguese it was used by the Dutch which actually shows how strategically important its location was. A little further down a slightly perilous and lesser travelled road from Pooneryn, you will find yourself at the Kalmunai Old Survey Tower which was declared archaeological monument.

This is in close proximity to a church that is visited by many locals in the area. There is just one bus that goes around the whole of Kilinochchi and this is used by people to commute to wherever they have to get to which I also used to get around town. The cities themselves have very little hustle and bustle, they follow their own little pace as if detached from the rest of the world and running on their own time.

Every house has two cows decorated in bright colours near the entrance. The ladies here have an exotic beauty to them that I have never seen anywhere else and there is great respect for them because it is part of their culture. The older folk are very interesting to talk to as they have so much wisdom and tales of old that will keep you enraptured.

Kilinochchi is truly a magical place. Every step will take you on an adventure from various time lines, while every corner will hold a mystery to be uncovered. So come and explore this district that exists in its own little bubble of solitude, peace and mystery just waiting to be discovered, savoured and explored.