Since we were in the north of the island we thought it would be a good idea to travel around. The four places listed below are located in northern Sri Lanka within a 40km radius of each other. We needed our own transport to visit them and managed to rent a rickety scooter from a local shop. Generally northern Sri Lankans prefer that you hire a tuk-tuk for a handsome price rather offering scooters for hire.


Located 20 km north of Jaffna the springs of Keerimalai are believed to have therapeutic properties, curing impotency and infertility issues. From its source in the rocks at an elevation of 10 metres, it supposedly flows through the crevices in carbonated rocks mixing with sea water and emerging at the ancient looking pool. I’m not sure how much of this is true, I only saw the sea water gate allowing the water to flow in. Unlike the spring waters of Beppu in Japan the water here is cold. Having said that, it’s healing values are still to be confirmed, it might be  worth making the journey and indulging in the local ancient myths if a cure for impotency is required.

Possibly impotent people swimming in the Keerimalai springs.

The day had just started and we wanted to view all four places, so spent very little time at the springs and the temple and headed to the bottomless well. On the way we were greeted by abandoned homes ravaged by the war and the tsunami. Architectural skeletons riddled with bullet holes covered the horizon of Jaffna’s outskirts, periodically changing to areas inhabited by local workshops.

Interior of a faded, roofless house near Keerimalai.
Man fishing with cups near Keerimalai.

This land was only used to burn garbage and tree branches, clearing land for real estate developments. The main workforce for which was the Sri Lankan army. Or maybe it’s just the reutilisation of a large, available workforce?

Men burning garbage and tree branches in front of a destroyed house near Keerimalai.


Is the home of a “bottomless well”, where the water never gets depleted and is used by local farmers. Legend says that the well was the place where a thirsty Indian prince stopped to plunge a hole in the ground with his arrow, and ever since the well has provided a never-ending supply of fresh water. An interesting point to note is that the first 12 metres of the water in this well is fresh but it turns salty deeper down. So why the hell did we come here I thought, and how deep is it? “No one has ever measured it”, a half drunk man sitting on his motorbike told us, “but it’s believed that the presence of salty water is evidence that the pond is connected to the sea, maybe even to Keerimalai springs.” It sounded like he mentioned the pools 20 km away from here and whether it is “believed” or measured to be certain for calling it “bottomless”, remained a mystery to us, which most of Sri Lankans are happy to live with apparently.

The bottomless well is a local attraction in Nilavarai. People come from afar to see how long it takes for a stone dropped in the water to disappear.

Travelling along a bumpy path full of swamps, animals, past miles of red latosol soil fields and men just as red, we headed to Point Pedro.

Tamil man transporting bags of red soil on his bike.
A crane in the water near Nilavarai.

Point Pedro.

Is the name for the northernmost point of Sri Lanka. Point Pedro used to be a cotton growing area and the small harbour was used to export cotton to Tamil Nadu and to smuggle in the fancy sarees from India that dressed thousands of Sri Lankan brides for decades. Since it’s capture from the Tamil Tigers in 1995 the land now belongs to the Sri Lankan Navy. The 2004 tsunami devastated most local homes and businesses.

Fishermen on the beach near the town.
Old car in Point Pedro.


Everywhere in Sri Lanka the war and tsunami were the two main topics that occupied our thoughts. It did not matter which road we took, there were signs of one or the other to remind us of those events.

A cow roaming in amongst the palm trees.

A small dirt road ran south from Point Pedro to what was supposed to be a church consumed by sand and a nearby beach. It was our fourth and final destination in the north, so we put all our hopes on the two-wheeler we rented not bursting a tire on the way there and back. These lands haven’t see much in the way of tourists, the roads aren’t paved and the landscape is empty. There are no shops or street names, no sign of a petrol station, only cows roaming the landscape. Places untouched by tourism always fascinate me with their lack of development and endurance in testing circumstances.

The remains of Saint Anthony’s Church swallowed by the sand dunes in Manalkadu village.

Why are we here, when no one else is?”, I asked myself. People never lived here, nothing grows here, nothing ever will. Desertification is spreading here every year, and it would be naive to see anyone resisting this. You could assume that natural disasters could turn the fauna of dead reefs back to living ones, turn deserts into green, irrigate the land, make it fertile. But just like a fire carried by the winds, tsunamis brings death and destruction from which no one is spared.

Manalkadu cemetery.
Gravestones in the Manalkadu cemetery.

Manalkadu is a small village with a desert grave yard, where some of the Sri Lankans who lost their lives in the tsunami are buried in the dunes on top of the hill. Like any other dune these are moving, once in a while revealing what’s buried below.