Delft – The largest island in Sri Lanka (Neduntheevu | Neduntivu) Travelogue

By : Dinesh Deckker

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Year & Month Number of Days Crew Weather Transport
Dec, 2010 2 8 Excellent | Hot Boat | Landmaster | Bus
Trip Route
Punkuduthiv Jetty->Delft
John the Baptist Church Delft
Travel Tips, Travel Notes and Special remarks
  • Be sure to find accommodation before you go to Delft
  • Make sure you carry mosquito coils
  • Leave only footprints
  • Be sure not to disturb people on their daily routine.
  • No Phone signals inside the Island

This travelogue is dedicated to Mathu and My Lovely Wife….

This travelogue is special for us and for all the readers as its a new rare experience. When we were in our friends house in Chavakacheri one of our friends aunt suggest to visit Delft. She further said the parish priest of Delft is a relation of heres and there will be no problem in accommodation. So our plan was finalized and next day we arrived at Punkuduthiv jetty around 9.30AM.  There were 2 boats which was offering service to Delft and one was a free service by RDA. The other one was a paid service which cost 50 rupees to go to delft.The RDA boat was leaving the jetty at 10.30AM and we decided to use that. The boat is different from Nagadeepa boats it is bigger and have windows. We saw Delft in the horizon and it was not captured clearly on the camera. When you at the Punkuduthiv jetty can see the Delft NAVY communication tower slightly. Boat started the journey exactly at 10.30AM and there were lot of crowd and none of them were travelers. All were either living in delft or visiting relatives in Delft.

Delft  Island – After 15 mins we left Punkuduthiv

Can you See the Distance? (how far it is)

Neduntheevu or Neduntivu (Tamil: நெடுந்தீவு), also known by its Dutch name Delft, is an island in the Palk Strait, northern Sri Lanka. This island is named as Delft in the Admiralty Chart  unlike the other islands in the area which are named with their Tamil names. The island’s area is 50 km² and it is roughly oval-shaped. Its length is 8 km and its maximum width about 6 km.

Neduntivu is a flat island surrounded by shallow waters and beaches of coral chunks and sand. There are wild horses on the island, which is home to a small population of Tamil people, mostly living in quiet compounds close to the northern coast.[1] The vegetation is of a semi-arid tropical type, with palmyra palms, dry shrubs and grasses that grow on the pale grey porous coralline soil. Papayas and bananas grow close to the local people’s homes. In the western coast of the island there are still remains of ancient buildings believed to be from the South Indian Chola Dynasty The water is slightly brackish. It is taken from shallow wells using buckets made from palmyra leaves.
Source :


Myself and my brother in law had the chance traveling on the roof and lucky we met a male nurse from Delft hospital. We were able to uncover lots of information from him. In the Warakan season boat operators does not allow people to travel on the roof and boat windows are always closed and he said the most of the people vomit at the end of the journey as see it that rough in the Warakan season. Also he showed a place called “meeting place of seven seas” which is according to his information where has whirlpool(Diya Suli). Also it seems there are whales in this area and we would have been lucky if we travel in the evening.

Getting Closer –

The last last boat from Punkuduthiv leaves from 3PM and not coming back. RDA boat does 2 trips and the other does 1 trip per day. So missing the boat is a MAJOR issue…

Delft Jetty and NAVY tower

After 1 Hour and 20 minutes journey we arrived at Delft Jetty and we were not able to clearly see either main land or punkuduthiv and the feeling was great. We are miles away from the main land which we wouldn’t clearly see, yet we were in Sri Lanka. NAVY officials came to escort us and asked few questions “Whats the purpose of this visit and etc?”  and we had to leave our National IDs in the jetty NAVY office and they gave us a temporary coupon. The Law is you cannot carry your ID to Delft and you have to leave it behind. People living in Delft and working in Delft have a special ID.

Can you see the Mainland

On the peer there was a CTB Bus.. I could believe it.. NAVY has transported the bus using a ship. So we took the bus and got down near Pradesheya Sabha and walked to the church. Rev.Father welcomed us and we had our lunch before starting the journey. Rev Father arranged us a land master as the transportation method and it was the main transportation method in Delft.

The Other interesting fact is all the walls in Delft was made bu corals and without using cament or any other paste. They have just arranged dead corals on top of other and it is very strong indeed.

“Coral Walls in Delft” called Pakir

“Yep its real Coral”

Our first attraction was giant baobab tree in Delft. It was very big in size and may be bigger than Mannar Baobab tree.

Baobabtree in Delft

Look at the size of the trunk

The Cave – Easily 15 PPL can Manage

Baobab Tree (Adansonia)

Adansonia is a genus of eight species of tree, six native to Madagascar, one native to mainland Africa and one to Australia. The mainland African species also occurs on Madagascar, but it is not a native of that island.

A typical common name is baobab. Other common names include boab, boaboa, bottle tree, upside-down tree, and monkey bread tree. The generic name honours Michel Adanson, the French naturalist and explorer who described A. digitata.Adansonias reach heights of 5 to 30 metres (16 to 98 ft) and have trunk diameters of 7 to 11 metres (23 to 36 ft). Glencoe Baobab – an African Baobab specimen in Limpopo Province, South Africa, often considered the largest example alive, up to recent times had a circumference of 47 metres (154 ft) and an average diameter of 15.9 metres (52 ft).Recently the tree split up into two parts and it is possible that the stoutest tree now is Sunland Baobab, also in South Africa. Diameter of this tree is 10.64 m, approximate circumference – 33.4 metres.Some baobabs are reputed to be many thousands of years old, which is difficult to verify as the wood does not produce annual growth rings, though radiocarbon dating may be able to provide age data.

After sometime we went to visit the Dutch fort by the Delft Hospital. The fort is damaged but still remains the beauty.The fort is fully made using dead corals and it is the specialty. By the way i think this is the most interesting hospital in Sri Lanka because most famous fort is on the backyard and the entrance is hospital corridor. But still Delft Hospital does not have enough medicine and it was sad to know.

Dutch Fort Delft

Inside the Fort

Very little of the fort remains today. but the book “Romantic Ceylon: its history, legend, and story” By Ralph Henry Bassett describes the fort and the island in detail

” … Traces of the Portuguese administration of Delft remain in the ruins of a fort which was undoubtedly built by them, as Dutch military architecture was of a more modem type. It is a very strongly fortified two-storied dwelling, covering an area about fifty yards square, with a double centre wall of immense thickness. This wall completely cuts the fort in half at Ground-level, the only means of communication being on the first floor-a common precautionary measure in defensive structures of that period. As a result, it is a very complicated edifice, full of long narrow and little square rooms.

The stairs run in the double walls. and lead out on to what must have been a flat roof, judging from the marks of the rafter sockets in the masonry. In one corner is the dungeon, a small square room, with a floor below ground level. Without any door, and having only one small window about two feet square, leading into the interior of the fort. The unfortunate prisoners must have been pushed in through this little aperture, or let down through a trapdoor in the floor above, and could have got out only by means of a rope; a good many must have met their death in this little chamber.

There is one large room which has the appearance of a mess-room, and a large number of small sleeping-rooms connected by corridors.

We climbed up to get the best view and we were able to get the view of the ocean… The fort situated on the backyard of Delft hospital and it is a interesting place.

Getting Down – Delft Fort

Delft Hospital in the Background

After spending some interesting time investigating the fort and next we went to the Delft beach and I must say it is the most beautiful and pure beach I have ever seen in Sri Lanka. The photographs dont reveal the true beauty. The water was so blue and there were LOTS and LOTS of sea shells. The sand was white and was like maldives. (We didn’t had the bath in the evening and it was awesome we walked more than 500M in to the water and the water level was below my shoulder and the underneath only sand nothing else. )

Delft Beach – Photos don’t reveal the true beauty

Crystal Clear

Sea Shells

Small Fishing Village

People of delft mostly are fisherman and most are Catholics. They are very nice people but most don’t talk Sinhala at all. Lucky we had Tamil companions and I my self regret that i didn’t had facility to learn Tamil. Our next destination was “Devil’s Well”, which was the fresh water source for entire island. They believe the wells were dug by a devil and is so deep which doesn’t have an end. But the fact is water available in the dry season.

So the next destination was the “Giant’s Footprint”. Which was located few miles in to the island and we traveled across beautiful paddy fields and small water tanks. Finally arrived at that point and the foot print is engraved in to a stone. The soil on that area is very different and I have never seen anything like that. Also people said that there is a similar foot print in Nainathiv.

The Foot Print

Just few meters from the foot print there is an interesting place which is a Dutch stable. ( places where horses are tied). Also there are lots of Wild Horses in Delft. Some of the people of Delft are similer to cowboys and they can catch a horse using a rope. Also it is said that if that cowboys hit somebody with a rock he will be surely dead as they are so accurate on their target.

The Dutch Stable

Wild Horse on Loose

The Main Road in Delft

When we returned to beach to it was dusk. We had a bath for quite long time and some NAVY officials stationed there came and talked with us. They were very friendly and showed us an interesting place which was a dutch pigeon nest. I captured the picture in pitch dark and below is what I came up with.

Dutch Bird Nest

We went to bed around 10.00PM and there were thousands of mosquitoes and we didn’t sleep at all. You wont believe its very difficult to sleep in Delft. Early morning i got up and went out to get some sunrise shots. We collected our IDs from NAVY and left 8.30AM ferry and reached punkuduthiv around 10AM.

We tried to cover the attractions as we can. We had a limited time and i think we did managed to shere something with you all. There is a lighthouse in the other end of the island and can see India from the top and it is inside a NAVY camp. But next time will cover the island fully.

The funny & sad thing was i needed to send some medicine to Delft and I called all the courier companies in Sri Lanka and they refused. One girl answered the phone and asked “Are you sure it is in Sri Lanka?” I was stunned…..! So I used good old postal service.. (There is a Post office on the island)

Have a Safe Journey!

Usually “Ambalam” were built in a chosen spots such as by the side of a paddy field or stream

Commonly “Ambalam” were simple buildings built by villagers on co-operative basis. They were consisted with a hipped type tiled roof on few timber or masonry columns. Perimeter walls were short and formed a seat for resting known as “Pila”.

Few were built totally with timber structures. In such a case, the Ambalama was built on four rock boulders to prevent from termite attacks. Panavitiya (or Panapitiya) was one of the said few.


Chamila(My wife) & I visited Panavitiya few months ago. Finding the Panavitiya Ambalama was not difficult although there was no sign board on the main road (Negombo-Kurunegala). The turn-off was nearly 3km before reaching Narammala town, where the road leading to the Matiyagana School. Having traveling another few kilometers we had to turn left again.

we reached the Archeological site passing a temple

“Sri Lanka Thilakaramaya“ the temple @ Panavitiya

With nearly 4km drive from the main road, we reached the Archeological site passing a temple. In the first moment, having seen the outside appearance of the Ambalama, I was also confused as like as most of the previous travelers, whether we had reached the correct place. But once we entered in to the shelter, we could discover the wonder of wood carvings that Panavitiya was so famous for.

The boutique located in front of the Archeological site

Little confused having seen the outside appearance of the Ambalama

wonders of wood carvings

Inside view

Beams, rafters & ridge plate

A dancer??

Column heads & wall plates

One Response to “Delft – The largest island in Sri Lanka (Neduntheevu | Neduntivu) Travelogue”

  1. Hi Dinesh,

    This is superb.