Thursday, December 23, 2010

Large nr of Chinese who Arrived in SL for Projects in Hambantota/NESL & Indians who came for Employment,also Included with 600,000 TOURISTS.!!!

Sri Lankan Tamils who are citizens overseas also included in the 600,000 tourists who visited the country


Although the head of the Tourism Promotions Authority, Presidential relative Nalaka Godahewa has carried out a media campaign saying that 600,000 tourists have so far visited Sri Lanka, Ministry sources say that over 200,000 of these so called visitors are Sri Lankan Tamils who have migrated during the war. These persons who had arrived in the country to visit their relatives and friends after the end of the war have also been included in the list of tourists.

Sources said that while there were close to 400,000 tourists who visited the country during the war, there has been an increase in tourist arrivals following the ends of the war.

The Authority has iincluded the large number of Chinese national who have arrived in the country for projects being carried in Hambantota and the North and East and Indians who have arrived for employment have also been included in the list of tourist arrivals for this year.

© IT Division - Lanka News Web.COM - All rights reserved.
Best viewed in 1024x768 resolution

Monday, October 11, 2010

Japanese diplomat recounts happy memories here ..!!!

The Sunday Observer invites views from diplomatic missions here and abroad for the greater understanding of their political, social and cultural relations in their respective countries.
Please submit your entries by E-mail :

Japanese diplomat recounts happy memories here
by Sapumali GALAGODA

Minister and Deputy Chief of Mission of the Embassy of Japan, Kaoru Shimazaki spoke on his diplomatic career and outlined happy memories about his life and the ties between the two countries. Here are excerpts of the interview:

Q: Do you have happy memories of your childhood?

A: I have lots of happy memories with my family. Besides my father and mother I have an elder brother and an elder sister. Playing sports such as baseball, cards, visiting traditional and cultural places with my family were some of the interesting things in my childhood in Japan. I'm a great fan of music, especially the classical music.

Q: What is your educational background?

A: After my secondary education I entered Keio University in 1977 and graduated in law in 1981.

Then as a trainee diplomat I studied at the Philipps University Marburg in Germany from 1983 to 1985.

Since September 2008 I have been attached to the Embassy of Japan in Sri Lanka as the Minister, Deputy Chief of Mission. As a music lover I listen to music and play the flute. I had an opportunity to play with some of the leading members of the Symphony Orchestra and the Chamber Orchestra of Sri Lanka and this is a good chance to pursue my hobby.

Deputy Chief of Mission of the Embassy of Japan, Kaoru Shimazaki

Last weekend I also watched a Kyogen-play by the students of the Kelaniya University which was a Japanese Language play with a Sinhalese translation at the "Punchi Theatre" in Borella. Japanese cultural events performed by Sri Lankan artistes are also impressive.

Q:Have the ties between Japan and Sri Lanka developed during the years?

A:Japan and Sri Lanka have enjoyed extremely friendly relations. Japan's cordial relations with Sri Lanka date back to 1952 when Japan established diplomatic relations with Sri Lanka. Japan has provided relief and rehabilitation assistance in times of need for conflict affected communities and those affected by tsunami as well.

The Japanese government has provided assistance and donations to construct the Mannar bridge, Agro-well construction under the GGP (Grant Assistance for Grassroots Human Security Projects) and support for medium and Long-term development such as improvement of Anuradhapura Teaching Hospital, Upper Kotmale Hydro Power Project and the Southern Transport Development Project.Japan has also assisted in livelihood and development projects in the North and the East.

The Japan External Trade Organisation (JETRO) is playing an important role in promoting trade between our two countries by providing information and developing the private sector as well. In August last year the Government-Private Joint Forum was launched and the 15th joint Meeting of the Sri Lanka-Japan and Japan-Sri Lanka Business Co-operation Committee was held in November 2009. These efforts by the Japanese businessmen with their Sri Lankan counterparts and the Government of Sri Lanka will create a conducive environment to promote trade and investment between our two countries.

The Japanese Government has also supported us to protect and develop cultural sites which have also strengthened the bonds. The highlight in this field was the opening of the Sigiriya Museum in July 2009 by President Mahinda Rajapaksa and former Prime Minister of Japan Yasuo Fukuda.

Q: Are there similarities between the two countries?

A: Geographically there are similarities such as Japan's being an island country like Sri Lanka. At the times Japan suffers natural disasters such as earthquakes and typhoons and Sri Lanka experienced a tsunami in 2006. I personally feel that the mentality between the two people's are quite similar. People in Sri Lanka and Japan are usually smiling friendly.

Both countries are not so rich in natural resources, therefore the most important is the human resource for both countries.

Q: What are the interesting things that took place during your diplomatic career?

A: As a member of the German School of Japanese Foreign Ministry , being in Germany on three different occasions adds to 11 years.

From 1985 to 1985 I was a Vice Consul in Berlin. Ten years thereafter I was attached to the Embassy in Bonn as the First Secretary and by that time Germany was united. I was again posted to Germany as a Minister in 2005 where I worked until September 2008. During this period the Embassy was moved to Berlin following the shifting of the capital. The fall of the Berlin Wall and the reunification of Germany were memorable.

I was in Jakarta, in Indonesia from March 1998 to September 2000 and two months later after my arrival in Jakarta, Suharto regime was overthrown. I was in Indonesia in the midst of the East Asian monetary crisis. During that time my task was very hard because I was in charge of Japanese ODA to Indonesia, but it was also a very good experience.

One of the most impressive events in Sri Lanka was the end of the 30-year conflict.

Q: How do you spend your leisure?

A: Listen to classical music, play the flute and the violin. I also read music scores and books on history, literature, biographies of famous artistes and statesmen of Japan and those the world over. I am now reading a book about Sri Lankan history.

Q: What are your favourite books among all the biographies you have read?

A: As a diplomat who served in Germany for more than 10 years, I would like to mention biographies and memoirs of German artistes and statesmen such as Bach, Beethoven, Furtwaengler, Bismarck and former German Chancellor Helmut Kohl who contributed to the German reunification and the European integration.

I am now reading the autobiography of Margaret Thatcher with great interest.

Q: What do you think of Sri Lanka and its people?

A: Sri Lanka is wonderful and beautiful. After the end of the conflict the country is peaceful with great potential. There are various kinds of animals. Sri Lankans are very friendly and are always beaming with smiles. Anuradhapura, Sigiriya, Hikkaduwa, Horton Plains and Sripada are very beautiful.

Q: How can Sri Lankans understand the Japanese people better since there is a language barrier?

A: I think if we have mutual understanding and respect, we can overcome the language barrier. Despite the language barrier Sri Lankans can understand the Japanese people. At the same time over 12,000 Sri Lankans are now learning the Japanese language. There is a marked increase in the number of Sri Lankans learning Japanese. They are very good at learning. Many people of Japanese origin have great interest in Sri Lankan culture. For example, two years ago Sri Lanka's cultural heritage exhibition which displayed about 150 artifacts including some of Sri Lanka's national treasures was held in Tokyo. The average number of visitors to the exhibition exceeded 1,200 daily. The Emperor and Empress of Japan also visited it. I think the exhibition was very successful and a good opportunity for the Japanese people to learn more about Sri Lankans history and its tradition.

Produced by Lake House Copyright © 2010 The Associated Newspapers of Ceylon Ltd.

SL: Japan visa information -1

Japan visa information -1
Visa Counter: 9:00-10:30 (Monday to Friday)

(to apply for Visa) 15:00-16:30 (Monday to Friday)

Consular Counter: 8:30 - 12:30 and 13:30 - 17:00 (for passports, other certificates etc.) Tel: 2693831 -3/Fax: 2674555 documents to be submitted when applying for temporary visitor Visa.

(With effect from 1st April 2010)

How to fill the visa application
a. The visa application form must be completed in full, leaving no details incomplete.

b. Details given therein must be true and correct.

c. The maximum period of stay in Japan for a short term visit is Ninety (90) Days.

d. Applicants should decide on the exact period of stay in Japan according to one's schedule, which may cover a maximum period of (90) days.

e. Visa applications should be typed or legibly hand written in (Block Letters).

f. Each applicant should fill a separate visa application, including child applicants.

Compulsory visa requirements
* Applicants visiting Japan for the first time should produce the original birth certificate with a photocopy and an affidavit declaring that they have not changed their original name.

* A letter from the Travel agent confirming the itenery (The Embassy does not assume responsibility as regards obtaining (Refund on Air Tickets).

* A photograph taken within the past six months. (Refer Application Form for specifications on Photo).

* A valid Passport (a minimum validity of Six (6) Months) and previous cancelled passports; if any.

* Applicants if married, should produce the original marriage certificate with a photocopy.

Documents required for business visit
1. A letter from the local company (reasons for entry, period of stay & Japanese company intending to visit).

2. Original business registration of the local company with a photocopy.

3. Company's Bank Statements (Originals) for the past Six (6) Months.

(Fixed deposit Certificates will not be accepted)

4. The latest Original Tax payment receipt of the Company.

5. Original guarantee letter from a Japanese Company with Japanese Company Registration (Original).

Documents required for tourism, to visit relatives or attend seminars etc.
1. Bank Statements (Originals ) for the past Six (6) Months. (Fixed Deposit Certificates will not be accepted).

2. Employment Certificate; if employed. (or other relevant certificates i.e. original business registration certificate if owner or partner of a business). For student applicants a letter from the school Principal

or head of the institution.

3. Document explaining the applicants activities in Japan.

a. If sightseeing; detail itinery of proposed travel plan and a hotel reservation.

b. If visiting relatives; detail information about relatives and proposed plan of visit

* if relative or friend is a Sri Lankan, copy of alien card, alien registration certificate issued from city office in Japan & passport copies, including a copy of a valid visa to stay in Japan.

* if relative or friend is a Japanese, his/her income certificate, resident certificate & employment certificate.

c. Documents relating to tours or tour packages, brochures etc.

d. If attending a meeting, seminar or conference; details of such venue and programme.

e. Confirmation of hotel reservation by Fax only (E-mails will not be accepted)

Saturday, August 28, 2010

SRILANKA: Suspension of Visa-on-Arrival Facility extended to citizens of 79 countries, including India from 30.9.2010! Except Singapore& Maldives.!!!

Sri Lanka scraps visa-on-arrival

B. Muralidhar Reddy

COLOMBO: Sri Lanka on Friday announced suspension of visa-on-arrival facility extended to citizens of 79 countries, including India, with effect from September 30.

A public notice posted on the Department of Immigration and Emigration website by said: “It has been decided that the On Arrival Visa Facility be suspended with immediate effect except as regards the countries that have been reciprocal for this facility.”

“Accordingly, the existing visa regime of granting landing endorsements on arrival for tourists will be withdrawn with effect from the 30th of September 2010. Therefore, please note that the tourists from all countries except Singapore and Maldives are required to obtain prior entry visa either from the Department of Immigration & Emigration in Colombo or from the Sri Lanka Missions abroad before their arrival in Sri Lanka.”

Affects tourism

The move could have an adverse impact on the tourism industry, which has witnessed a sharp growth in recent months.

The number of tourist arrivals went up 50 per cent to 63,339 in July 2010, compared to the corresponding period in the previous year, according to figures released by Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority. Sri Lanka was recently ranked as the number one tourist destination by the New York Times in its list of “31 Places to go in 2010”. The maximum number of tourists is from India.

Copyright © 2010 Hindu.COM

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Suddenly it has become ‘cool’ to travel to Jaffna...!!!

By Rathindra Kuruwita

“I fell in love with the country, the people, and the way of life which were entirely different from everything in London and Cambridge to which I had been born and bred.”
- Leonard Woolf

Suddenly it has become ‘cool’ to travel to Jaffna. Everyone you know seems to be taking the bus, car, van or helicopter to the North and the East after the end of the war, an area which has been closed to the public for nearly three decades. And with the New York Times naming Sri Lanka as the top place to visit in 2010, a large number of foreign tourists are expected to join the locals in the coming months.
So what does every avid traveller have when s/he travels into unknown lands, apart from a passport and hard currency? A travel guide, obviously. However, there are no modern travel guides to the North and East of Sri Lanka -- two of the country’s most exotic and interesting gegraphical swathes, mostly because the ethnic conflict made extensive travelling there impossible.
The market is virtually untapped. Well, it was untapped till this week when Juliet Coombe and Daisy Perry, authors of Around the Fort in 80 Lives launched their travel guide to the North and East, Sri Lanka’s Other Half - a book that the authors hope will help the reader “wow the friends and family with tales from a part of Sri Lanka that has been totally cut off from the rest of country for the last three decades and therefore preserved from unregulated tourism.”

Travelling with toddlers

Most parents I know don’t like to go on vacation with their children simply because they think they will be a pain in the neck. Kids simply get in the way and hamper travel arrangements, that’s what I always hear. Imagine travelling around the North and East with a two and a half- year- old kid and a two month old infant in tow. (‘You have to breast feed them and stuff you know’) but according to Juliet Coombe (who actually did travel with her kids), having a child with you makes people open up to you more, that is, as soon as they get by the initial shock.
“Initially people are a bit shocked when I turn up with my son and young baby, but not for long. And despite all the challenges involved I can’t imagine travelling without my two children. They always get me to the front of every queue, get me waved through checkpoints and the word ‘no’ no longer exists, which allows me to go into just about any building or site even if it is closed at the end of the day. “Our books would probably still be stuck in customs now if it wasn’t for the award winning smile of baby Amzar, my No.02. Prices aren’t even an issue, sometimes people don’t charge anything and I am touched by how many people have helped in every single spot I have been to, carrying the baby, so I could take the best photos or have my hands free to write up an interview.”
She added that people have always offered to help take care of the baby. The universal concern and love for children helped her get through language and cultural barriers that she encounters during travel.
“Particularly in Jaffna for example everybody looked after the baby and at Expo Pavilions Hotel, Jaffna, the staff were so nice they not only bought me a sari, baby clothes and toys but also became so close to me whilst I was researching the book that I have an open invite to return anytime I like. A couple I met in Jaffna, who are also featured in the book, Jivitha and Burton have even invited me to their wedding. Now I can’t understand why everybody doesn’t want to have a baby. It makes the world a much more fun, open and an equal place to live in. Sadly, Sri Lanka’s Other Half, our guidebook, doesn’t come with a free baby, but it does have a complimentary photographic guide at the end, to help you improve your travel photography and take pictures that might appear in our future updates.”

Why Jaffna?

Even as kids Juliet and Daisy were fascinated by Jaffna. This was some what before the beginning of the civil war, and yes they ARE kind of old. Juliet who is an avid reader was specially interested in the Jaffna library which at one time was one of South Asia’s best libraries and has been attracted by its restoration in the late 1990s.
“From childhood I was fascinated by Jaffna and its ancient ruins submerged in the shifting sand dunes and stories of the Nallur Kandaswamy Hindu festival of self-mutilation that brings millions of devotees together every year in gruesome tests of faith. My parents talked of the magnificent public library in Jaffna - with over 100,000 books to pick from and the joke between my brothers and mum was that I was such a voracious reader that when I ran out of books to read and libraries to go to, I would have to start writing my own. So I guess the stories of the Jaffna public library made covering this region totally irresistible with its possible new sources of literary inspiration. Combined with the chance to see a city and areas of Sri Lanka that had been pretty much closed off from the world for three decades were the main reasons I went ahead with the project,” Juliet said.
“But writing a travel guide is not as easy as it seems. Until now I thought it was all about funding, getting permission and a four wheel drive, cruising around, having a chat with the occasional bystander and the hotel staff and taking ‘pretty pictures’. But apparently its not that easy -- one has to spend months researching places. This is a mix of things from reading old newspapers on line, looking for the unusual and quirky stories in the feature sections and reading books, usually literary titles, linked to the areas that should be covered.
“Also some Victorian guide books for amusement value only and talking to just about anyone who have been to the areas we were planning on including. Daisy Perry and I divided the book up and researched as much as we could based on a tight time-line and the official government permissions required to go. Some of the places in the book took weeks to get official clearance for. Jaffna in the end due to all the paper work required was written almost completely by myself with some help from Burton and Jivitha, who have a chapter in the book dedicated to them.”

Focus points

The authors tried to cover every place that was open in the region in a systematic way and focused on the subjects rather than the places that would most interest readers and could not be found in any other guide. Since both writers have a ‘personal pet hate’ to replicate information that is already out there, they often read only the contemporary guides after their books have gone to the printers.
“The North and East - a mere 50km journey can take over seven hours depending on the state of the roads or the tides and river levels if ferry crossings are involved.
But it is more than worth the effort to see Jaffna’s Portuguese-Dutch fortress even if it be in ruins, picturesque off shore islands, in particular Delft, with its wild ponies brought over by the Portuguese in colonial times and take a ride around Jaffna in a classic car, listen to singing fish at midnight in Batticaloa, watch the blue pigeons return at sun set to Pigeon Island just off Trincomalee,” Daisy said. The two authors are also co owners of Sri Serendipity publishing house in Galle. They are already getting ready for their next travel book - Addicted: Generation T: A guide to Tea and Tea Cuisine. Apparently, it’s a book about why tea is sexy.
“You can learn how to cook a delicious romantic meal using tea, find out how to travel Sri Lanka’s tea country discovering a hidden world of tea factories used as art galleries, luxurious planter’s bungalows and the best roadside tea stalls to stop for a cuppa. Plus follow our trails and meet the tea artists and wildlife experts that make any trip to the tea country unforgettable.”

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Around 200,000 local and foreign tourists have visited Jaffna during the last week...!!!

Number of tourists to Jaffna on the rise

Around 200,000 local and foreign tourists have visited Jaffna during the last week due to the steps taken by the Government to eradicate terrorism from the country.

This is the first time such an unprecedented number of tourists had visited Jaffna via the A-9 road after 30 years owing to the moves taken by the Government to restore peace in the North and the East, Tourism Minister, Achala Jagoda told the Sunday Observer yesterday.

The Minister said a large number of local and foreign tourists had visited key historic places in Jaffna last week including the Delft Islands and the temples in Nagadeepa. Special boat services have been commenced for the benefit of the tourists to vist Delft and Nagadeepa islands.

The Tourism Ministry has already formulated a program to develop the infrastructure facilities in the North and establish observation spots in the North. Arrangements have also been made to establish three Tourism Complexes in Jaffna, Mullitivu and Mannar districts with modern facilities.

According to the Minister hundred-acre land plot will be reserved from each district to set up these Tourism Complexes. The Government will seek the assistance of investores to construct these tourism complexes.

Minister Jagoda said tourist arrivals have recorded a remarkable increase after the elimination of terrorism. Foreign tourists have shown interest to visit Sri Lanka which is one of the best and safest tourist destinations in the world.

Local and foreign visitors can now travel to any part of the country," Jagoda said.

The Ministry of Tourism has decided to promote the tourism industry this year under the theme "travel freely in a free Sri Lanka".

The Tourism Ministry has formulated plan to increase the present number of tourist arrivals by five fold in 2016.

Born in Kerala, Mr Kuttan left his home & took the ferry to Sri Lanka's northern seaport town of Talaimannar & then made his way to Colombo in 1938.!!

Sri Lanka's legendary doorman turns 90

Turning 90 won't stop Chattu Kuttan working at the Galle Face Hotel. (AFP : Ishara S Kodikara )
In 70 years of greeting guests to Sri Lanka's venerable Galle Face Hotel, doorman K Chattu Kuttan has hobnobbed with everyone from royal heads of state to Bond girls and Soviet cosmonauts.

Mr Kuttan, who turns 90 on Monday, has watched the hotel change with the country, from colonial days, through independence and the dark decades of ethnic conflict.

And he has pretty much seen it all, from a Japanese Zero fighter plane crash-landing on the hotel grounds during World War II, to sultry film star Ursula Andress dancing in the ballroom on New Year's Eve 1976.

Born in India's Kerala province, Mr Kuttan left his home and took the ferry to Sri Lanka's northern seaport town of Talaimannar and then made his way to Colombo in 1938.

He worked as a servant for one of Colombo's elite families before landing a job at the hotel in 1942, weeks after the Japanese bombed the capital. He started as a waiter and took 50 years to gravitate to the front door.

"Ceylon, as Sri Lanka was known, was a different country then. Famous people like Emperor Hirohito, Richard Nixon, Sir Laurence Olivier and George Bernard Shaw came and stayed with us," Mr Kuttan recalls.

In colonial days, the adjoining Galle Face promenade that overlooks the Indian Ocean used to host horse races on the green.

"White ladies and gentlemen would watch the races from the terrace of our hotel. The ladies wore hats and were covered with frills and lace," he said.

In recent years, Mr Kuttan has embraced his role as a living Galle Face institution.

His distinctive neat white cropped hair, handlebar moustache, white brass buttoned coat, sarong and expanding collection of colourful souvenir badges from dozens of countries, all combine to make the perfect photo opportunity.

Few guests pass up the chance of picture, and his image and life story have graced the covers and inside pages of some of the world's leading travel magazines.

"He is probably among the world's oldest people still in employment and also one of the most famous hotel employees in the world," said one of the Galle Face directors, Lalith Rodrigo.

Even as he prepares for his 90th birthday bash, Mr Kuttan, who walks 1.6 kilometres to work each morning and catches the bus at the end of his afternoon shift, has ruled out any imminent retirement.

"Walking to work and the busy life at the hotel keeps me going," said the father of two girls, five grand children and one great-grand child.

When he first started as a waiter, Mr Kuttan served dignitaries like Lord Mountbatten, Princess Elizabeth, Jawarharlal Nehru, Indira Gandhi and Arthur C Clarke.

His monthly pay back then was 20 rupees.

"Now I earn 30,000 rupees ($300) a month as a doorman," he said.

The Galle Face's glory has somewhat diminished over the decades and most A-list celebrities and political statesmen now stay at modern luxury hotels that have sprung up in other parts of Colombo.

But its faded splendour still attracts a loyal clientele and newcomers who stare at its prominently displayed list of famous guests, and point out the known and the unexpected, like Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin.

Mr Kuttan is happy he lived to see the back of Sri Lanka's 37-year ethnic conflict, which ended in May with the military victory over Tamil Tiger rebels.

"Too many people died. I have seen too many bomb blasts around Colombo. People were scared to move around. Even tourists didn't want to come. So I'm happy its finally over," he said.

A non-smoker, teetotaller and lover of vegetable dishes, Mr Kuttan hopes to visit Kerala in April to see his two sisters, aged 93 and 73 - his second visit to India since arriving in Sri Lanka.

In good shape despite his years, Mr Kuttan relies on spectacles for night vision and avoids sweets to keep his blood sugar low.

And his pet peeves? Mobile phones. "I hate those noises. I feel my ear is vibrating after talking into one."


Sunday, January 3, 2010

After the war Sri Lankans are flocking to Jaffna during this holiday season, irrespective of race or religion....!!!

The Nainaadeevu temple.............ferry

Nagadeepa viharai

Thirukethiswaram Kovil in Mannar

Chariot festival at Sivam Kovil in Karainagar

Faith in unity:
Jaffna reawakens after 30 years
by Dhaneshi YATAWARA

After the war Sri Lankans are flocking to Jaffna during this holiday season, irrespective of race or religion. Today the entrance to the Northern Province, Vavuniya, has transformed into a bustling city. It's like spring time in the North.

Jaffna almost like an island, separated from the narrow maximum 12 kilometre wide isthmus at Elephant Pass is one of a kind land uniquely made out of limestone and lines of palmyra trees with its elegant fan like fronds.

Restrictions have been totally lifted on the Alpha 9 road that links two historical cities, Kandy and Jaffna. It has now become a 'freeway'. It was this road that linked two different cultures and religions, economically and socially. Broken-down for more than two decades with the closure of A9 Road on different occasions especially from Muhamalai following its total closure during August 2006 this link between the two cultures was interrupted.

"Jaffna town has now turned into a pleasure world," Mayor of Jaffna town Yogeswari Sathgunarajah said commenting on the present situation that has changed magnificently. Life in entire Northern Province is totally recovering to normality.

According to records at the Omanthai entry/exit point in Vavuniya, operated under the Wanni Security Forces Headquarters, daily 40 - 50 buses pass this point in addition to a large number of private vehicles. There were people on pilgrimage and some were on holiday. The A9 is getting busier day by day and it is a wonderful sight to any Sri Lankan eye. The restrictions on private vehicles travelling on the A9 were lifted on December 21 and since then 58,694 people have travelled to Jaffna till December 29, records indicate.

"In one particular day we had to cater to 4000 people visiting Jaffna town," the Mayor said. Municipal Council officials held a special discussion with Northern Province Governor Maj.Gen. G. A. Chandrasiri and other higher officials to plan in providing essential facilities to this mass influx of people.

On the instructions of President Mahinda Rajapaksa, the prevailing curfew enforced in the Jaffna peninsula for security reasons, was lifted from midnight, December 31, 2009.

The curfew was lifted on the request made by the Northern Province Governor to the Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, under the instructions given by Senior Presidential Advisor Basil Rajapaksa M.P. "With the eradication of terrorism, the situation in the North including Jaffna is normal, the A9 Highway opened, the public is now able to go about freely and therefore there is no need to enforce a curfew," said Northern Province Governor Maj. Gen. G. A. Chandrasiri.

Chief Incumbent of Naga Vihara in Jaffna town Ven. Meegahajathure Gnanarathana Thera had to look into the accommodation for the pilgrims. In the 'vishramashala' since it was fully occupied. Local Government officials had to look for a quick solution. With the help of principals the schools became the resting places of many visitors as the schools were closed during the holiday season. Officials specially arranged ten schools for this with all necessary facilities. Christmas holidays were truly and unbelievably busy for everyone.

"I'm visiting Jaffna after 25 years," said Upul Kodikara (45) a businessman hailing from Piliyandala. Upul with his group of friends were visiting his friends and business buddies in Jaffna. They were on their way to Nagadeepa to worship the sacred temple and the kovil. Hindus and Buddhists travel on the same ferry to visit these religious places. Visiting these places were a distant dream in the past. True happiness is written on their faces. "We of course had no problem in finding accommodation since our friends and their families took care of us," Upul said. He was hoping to come with his family on his next visit to Jaffna. "The development is taking place so fast it is unbelievable. It is now that we feel true freedom," he said.

The Siriwardane family from Galle were getting on to the ferry to visit Nagadeepa. "My children have never visited Jaffna before and it is only now, when they have reached their early twenties, that they can visit these religious places and evoke blessings," Milroy Siriwardane, the father, said. "It was like the old fashioned pilgrimages. We cooked our own meals by the side of the road and rested in the 'Vishrama shala'. It was one of those unforgettable memories we have had," he said.

Families from Horana, Panadura, Mathugama and Kadawatha were at the Purikattuwan jetty on the Punkuduthivu Island from where the ferries start their short journey to Nagadeepa. From dawn to dusk the ferries work continuously and this jetty has never been this busy in the past thirty years.

Ironically it was in the sacred land of Nagadeepa the Buddha preached the two kings, the uncle and the nephew, Mahodara and Chulodara the virtues of non violence. In the fifth year after Enlightenment the Buddha visited Nagadeepa on a Buk (April) full moon poya day to settle the dispute between the kings. According to Buddhist belief it is one of the most sacred sixteen places of worship. The Buddha preached the virtues of non-violence to the warring factions. He urged them to forget clashes with each other and be united. After the two warring kings made peace the throne was offered to the Buddha, who returned it to the Naga kings. According to the historical epic the throne was later enshrined in the Nagadeepa stupa and became a place of Buddhist worship.

Chief Incumbent of the Nagadeepa temple Venerable Navadagala Padumakiththi Thissa Thera was the only Buddhist priest to conduct the religious rituals for the devotees visiting the temple.

The most sacred Nallur kovil was receiving both Tamil speaking and non-Tamil speaking people who visit irrespective of their religions, to get blessings of God Skanda. The thought itself brings peace to my mind," said Mahadeva Kurukkal the Chief Priest of the Nallur Kovil. Twenty years serving the people as a Hindu priest Mahadeva Kurukkal said, the present situation brings so much pleasure.

With more and more people coming in, to see the land unseen for 30 years, a major part of the responsibility fell on the shoulders of the Sri Lanka Army and the Navy personnel. After passing Vavuniya a traveller would find a resting place in Mankulam now managed by the Sri Lanka Army. It is a greatest relief for travellers as this lengthy distance does not accommodate resting places nor any snack bars. With the resettlement fast on progress more developments progress can be expected in the future to come.

After liberating the land from terrorists, these gallant soldiers have not abandoned the region as they are there to help you at any needed time.

From Vavuniya to Jaffna throughout the A9 Road soldiers have become the safety providers. At any emergency, people rely on them as they are never abandoned. Because of them the people can even rest by the side of the road without any fear. These true sons of the nation have made this land a peaceful island.

Sri Lanka Navy giving assistance to devotees

Ferry service
In Nagadeepa the Navy personnel become the guide for many civilians and at times they had to assist the people to reach hospital or medical care at the time of need. They assure security on land as well as in waters.

At Nagadeepa six to seven ferries are operating, owned by private owners, under the supervision of the Sri Lanka Navy detachment in Nagadeepa under the command of Sri Lanka Navy Naval Ship Elara in Karainagar.

From the time of departure and return of devotees the Navy keeps a watchful eye ensuring the safety of the people.

The Murunkandi Kovil near Kilinochchi is getting reconstructed as a religious and a rest place.

On par with restoring normality in the Jaffna peninsula major development projects continue in the western coast of the province, Mannar in particular in the pre-historic sacred Kovil Thiruketheeswaram. Seven miles to the north of Mannar town. It is one of the most sacred Sivam Kovils of the country.

According to Dr. Paul E. Peiris, an erudite scholar and historian, "long before the arrival of Vijaya (6 Century B.C.) there was in Sri Lanka five recognized Eeswarams of Siva which claimed and received adoration of Indians. These were Thiruketheeswaram near Mahathitha, Munneswaram, Thondeswaram, Thirukoneswaram and Naguleswaram. This Kovil is dedicated to the worship of the Supreme God Siva, has been one of the most venerated temples for centuries. This temple and the holy waters of Palavi Tank by its side are venerated in the sacred hymns of the two for most Saiva saints Tirugnanasampanthar and Sundarar who lived in the 7 and 8 Centuries respectively.

After 1990, the Kovil did not function due to terrorist activities and damage was done to the Kovil. With the objective of giving a face lift to the temple and its surroundings and provide facilities to the pilgrims a new development project is taking place under the instructions of Chairman of the Presidential Task Force on Northern Development Senior Presidential Advisor Basil Rajapaksa M.P. A broader plan has also been prepared already.

The total program is to be completed in two stages considering the magnitude of the work. And the plan was implemented on December 18, 2009 with the aim of completing phase one before the 2010 Sivarathri day which falls on February 13.

In the phase one of the plan major roads towards the kovil, its roundabout, the chariot path, improving the Palavi tank and surroundings, building a passenger waiting hall and improving water and sanitary facilities are in line. And in the phase two, the internal roads, arches, putting up street lamps, repairing the pond for 'Theppaikulam', building the Vedic School and Pilgrim rest, the cultural hall and several other buildings required to conduct the religious activities are planned.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

LAKEHOUSE BUS SERVICE: Group bookings for schools and societies will get a discount of 25 percent on up and down travel..!!!

Lake House bus service from Colombo to Jaffna

The new Lake House Thinakaran luxury bus service from Colombo to Jaffna will start on Monday, January 4 near the Lake House news agent opposite St Lawrence's Church, Wellawatte, Colombo 6.

The luxury bus will start from Wellawatte at 11.00 p.m and stop over opposite Lake House at 11.15 p.m daily. Tickets to Jaffna could be booked from the Lake House booking centre and at Stanley Road, Jaffna for return to Colombo.

The luxury bus has 49 seats and radio and TV and is air conditioned.

Group bookings for schools and societies will get a discount of 25 percent on up and down travel. Senior citizens and children below 12 will get seven percent discount on tickets and others who travel up and down will also get a five percent discount. The one way fare to or from Jaffna is Rs1,800.


Booking inquiries
Inquiries could be made on bookings on 2489273 in Colombo and Jaffna 021 2235361. Bookings should be made two days before travel.