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Elephant Pass

Considered to be the fabled gateway to Jaffna by land, the Elephant Pass, which is sandwiched between lagoons and salt flats have become a recent attraction in Jaffna, as it is steeped in history. Couple that with the abundance of wildlife, especially in the form of wading birds around the lagoons and the largest salt field in the country, Elephant Pass is an eclectic mix of an attraction in Jaffna that will intrigue travellers journeying towards the Jaffna Peninsula.

Best Known For

  • Elephant Pass has always been known for the rustic grandeur it has sported throughout the centuries, so much so that the Dutch colonial masters used it as a holding area for elephants, due to its bountiful nature, hence the name ‘Elephant Pass’.
  • More recently though, Elephant Pass has become a popular attraction to many a history enthuse, as the place served as a major battlefield between the Sri Lankan Army and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), during the 3-decade long civil war that ended in 2009.

Interesting Facts

  • The significance of Elephant Pass comes into being during the 18th Century Dutch colonial period, a time when the trading of exotic animals was quite a norm.
  • Elephant Pass was used by the Dutch to hold annual sales of Elephants. This was due to the Ivory that could be harvested from the animals.
  • Presently though, physical vestiges of the colonial activity that took place no longer exist. The only remnant being a sign board of a fortress that was destroyed, as a result of the recently ceased civil war.
  • It is, however, the recent history that intrigues the traveller, as Elephant Pass was at the crossroads of one of the most epic battles of the Sri Lankan Civil War.
  • Elephant Pass is considered to be the only land access to Jaffna, therefore whoever controlled the area, controlled the entire Jaffna Peninsula.
  • For the most part, Elephant Pass was controlled by the LTTE, however, it was subsequently taken over by the Sri Lankan Military Forces in 2009, during its ‘Northern Offensive’, which subsequently ended the 3-decade long Civil War.
  • Even today signs of the brutal battles that waged still remain in the area and is further commemorated with the war memorials.
  • Making this attraction in Jaffna all the more enticing to visit, is the wildlife that still roams around, especially the wading birds, even after the landscape was subject to the horrors of battle.
  • A stroll along the lagoon and the large salt field allows you to witness one of the more unique sunsets in the country, as it boasts of an unhindered view of the bright star setting behind a never ending landscape; certainly something that you would not want to miss.

Times, Seasons and Tips

  • Elephant Pass is a yearlong destination for both, the history enthuse and the nature lover, as it possesses intriguing features of harsh battles fought and lagoons, along with salt fields that teem with a number of wading birds.
  • When visiting the memorials in the area, do take the opportunity of paying tribute to the war heroes that fell during the 3 decade long civil war.
  • Moreover, please adhere to the rules and regulations set forth by the authorities at the memorials.
  • If you are looking to witness the bountiful nature that surrounds this gateway to Jaffna, please do so by being considerate of the environment, therefore refrain from bringing any polythene or plastic to the area.
  • As always, do not forget to bring your camera along, as Elephant Pass is a kaleidoscopic mix of history and nature.

Looking to delve into the recent past of Sri Lanka? Or looking to witness the thriving nature of the North? Elephant Pass has all the features to suit these requirements; so why not try exploring?

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Nature and Outdoors

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