Two days on Mannar Island
Updated: Feb 13
After our thrilling scooter safari through Wilpattu National Park, we finally crossed the causeway and arrived on Mannar Island.
Previously famed across Sri Lanka as 'Donkey Town' due to their superior animals, Mannar used to be a thriving island with a ferry service to India which is less than 20 miles away.
Sadly the Civil War (1983-2009) destroyed all this when almost the entire town of Muslim Mannarians were forced to leave their homes. The ferry service was suspended but, even worse, the local community lost their connection with their animals and all those left behind became feral.
The donkeys now roam the island in their hundreds and are often mistreated by the local people who have no use or affection for them anymore.
The Donkey Clinic
We unknowingly chose to visit the Donkey Sanctuary during Pongal, the Tamil festival of harvest, so most of the local community was present.
The Boyfriend accidentally drove over their celebration offerings at the gate. Awkward.
We tried to sidle in after this but there was no chance of an unnoticed entrance. We were immediately the centre of attention and given seats for the opening speech.
The host made a special point of welcoming the visitors from London and then made everyone wave at us.
We nodded and smiled through the Tamil ceremony until the children's games started and then we escaped to hang out with the donkeys.
The donkeys here have been rescued from around Mannar Island.
They are treated and then released back to where they were found. Although some who are very content in the sanctuary are kept for assisted therapy for youngsters with special needs.
This guy had a nibble at my top:
According to geological and literary evidence, there used to be a land connection between Sri Lanka and India.
Of course, every knows that it was Lord Rama who built it back in the day so he could reach Sri Lanka to rescue his wife Sita who had been kidnapped by King Ravana.
The bridge is now under waters but if you venture out to the peninsula, you can see the last of the islands dotting out in front of you as you stand on the white shores of Lanka.
The Elephant Tree
With a circumference of 20m, my first boabab tree took my breath away with its magnitude and elephant-like bark.
This tree is thought to be over 700 years old.
Tomorrow we head to Jaffna...