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Mannar

Travel Guide Asia Sri Lanka Mannar

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Introduction

Mannar district is one of the five districts of the Northern Province of Sri Lanka. It has a unique terrain - very dry with salterns along the coast. The mythological bridge from the Indian epic Ramayana is said to have been built from Rameshwaram, India to Talai Mannar. Currently, this place is not open to tourists as it has experienced successive conflicts and frequent displacements of people. There is a lot of refugee movement from Mannar to Rameshwaram.

The place is unique because many of its areas have very unique names directly from the Ramayana, e.g: the path through which Rama walked etc. Apart from the literary interest in the district, it is interesting for the difference in topography. The harsh, sparse land with donkeys roaming about the streets - the donkeys are said to have been brought by Arab traders in the past. The inhabitants of this district are Tamil speaking and come from different religious backgrounds: Christians (RC and non RC), Hindus and Muslims.

There have been rumours of oil in the districts and talks of oil explorations[1] being undertaken. Currently, the larger part of the district is empty due to the heavy fighting that took place last year and most of the people are confined to two divisions within the district as internally displaced people.

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Sights and Activities

  • Thiruketheeswaran: an ancient Shiva temple believed to have been built around 300 BC is one of the famous three ancient Shiva temples built around this period and is described in the devotional lyrics of the poet saint Thirugnanasampanthar of South India. The temple was destroyed during the Portuguese invasions in the 16th century and excavations in the temple complex in the 1950s restored the temple to its former glory. An annual pilgrimage by devotees is undertaken from all parts of the country during the Mahasivarathri festival but has been curtailed during the conflict.
  • Madhu church: a special pilgrimage place for Catholics in Sri Lanka.

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Getting There

By Bus

This is the current mode of transport to Mannar as there is no train service beyond Medawachiya to the Northern districts. However, due to the numerous checkpoints and the necessity of getting defence ministry clearance for non-residents of the district to travel there, it is not possible for the casual traveller to visit there now.

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Eat

There are a few cheap eateries in the town center. There is a special cafe with delicious Indian food, made by a returnee/former refugee in India.

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Sleep

The Government guesthouse is currently the only accommodation available for the public and it is around USD 20 per night.

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Keep Connected

Internet

Internet cafes are available in all the cities and these are cheap and easy to access. Most hotels have internet access as well but are relatively expensive. There are various internet service providers (Sri Lanka Telecom, Dialog, Mobitel etc.) providing different packages: ADSL broadband, dial-up, WiFi. Please contact a service provider to learn more about the packages and prices.

Phone

See also International Telephone Calls

The country code for Sri Lanka is 94. Remove the intercity prefix (0) before the area code when dialling internationally into the country (i.e., 0112 688 688 becomes +94 112 688 688) when dialling from abroad). The two next numbers after 94 represents the area code, they are different for every district.

The use of GSM cellphones is widespread and the coverage is good. Dialog and Mobitel are two operators that have sales offices at the airport inside the arrivals lounge. Dialog Mobile has the widest coverage in the country including rural areas and has the best quality GSM / 3G / HSPA +/4G network. Mobitel also has a 3G/HSPA+ network. All the mobile operators are having same call rates due to floor rate tariffs. Therefore it is advisable to go to the network which offers you the best quality. All Mobile Operators offers cheap IDD Call rates. If you want to surf internet, best way is to buy a HSPA dongle and a Mobile Broadband connection. Dialog Mobile, Mobitel, hutch, Etisalat and Airtel offers prepaid Mobile Broadband services which can be activated and used immediately. Dialog is the Vodafone Roaming Network in Sri Lanka and offers the best range of Value added services for Roamers and the rates are cheaper. Etisalat and Airtel also provide cheap roaming rates specially to India.

Post

Sri Lankan Post is the national postal company. Each city/town has a main post office and the villages will have access to sub post offices, either at the village or nearby village. Local post, through normal mail, is cheap and fast. However, to ensure that the post has reached recipient, it is better to send by registered post which will allow you to have a reference number which you can later use to check with your post office that your mail has reached its destination. There are local courier services. Aramex and Pronto are some of the ones in Colombo and they deliver mail the same day or overnight. For better tracking and fast services companies like DHL, or TNT provide a good service but are more expensive.

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This is version 5. Last edited at 11:46 on Aug 6, 15 by Utrecht. 1 article links to this page.

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