Delf Island

Delf Island


Delft Island, locally known as Neduntheevu and situated in northern Sri Lanka, is roughly an hour-long ferry ride away from the mainland. From the remnants of a colonial fort to numerous wild ponies roaming about— an amalgamation of nature and history awaits you on a trip to this quaint little island. Add to that the coral walls surrounding the houses—and you’ll feel like you stepped into a strange yet beautiful dream

One of the most popular and sought-after attractions on the island is the ruins of the Delft Island Fort. Often, the fort has been credited to Mikaman, a Karaiyar king. The fort was a two-storied building constructed entirely out of coral and limestone. Initially built by the Portuguese, the Dutch later occupied it. The Dutch also built a barracks about a quarter-mile away.

The baobab tree in Delft Island is one of the oldest and most majestic trees in the nation. A species native to Ethiopia in Africa, it is believed to have been brought to the island by Arabs traders in the 16th century.  The tree trunk is of enormous girth and can accommodate several people inside it at once. Another unique tree at Delft Island is a banyan tree that is more than 250 years old; it is near a small Hindu temple at the eastern end of the island.

The Giant Footprint is a depression in the rock that is around a meter long and resembles a, you guessed it, footstep; its origins are often attributed to legends and myths. Locals adore this site as the footprint of Lord Hanuman.

Queen’s Tower, also known as Quindah Tower, is located on the southern coast of the island. Around 55 feet tall and tapering at the top, this Tower was used as a light navigation point; the guiding light at the top was derived from a fire burning at the bottom. It is believed that the Tower was enveloped by a reflective surface, which is not seen today.

A unique attraction on Delft Island is the growing stone. It is a mass of coral near a Hindu temple that the locals worship. The secret behind its growth is believed to be a result of the coral being alive for many years or seismic shifts.

A remarkable structure on Delft Island is the Pigeon Cote. This building was used to house messenger pigeons used for communication during the times of the Dutch. There are around seventy pigeonholes on the building. Interestingly, the structure has mostly remained intact until today.

The island is home to numerous wild horses, striking and ethereal in their appearance. Around 500 of these animals were introduced in the 17th century by the Portuguese; in 2014, 450 wild horses were noted. It is forbidden by law to transport these ponies away from the island.

The remains of an 800-meter-long stable for the horses, which was used by the Portuguese, Dutch, and the British, can still be seen today.

The Cholan Ruins offer another insight into the history of this island. The remnants of three Buddhist stupas, built in the Cholan style of architecture, lie on the western coast of the island. A few years ago, inscriptions in Tamil and the Brahmi script were found here.