It was the Dutch who gave it this curious name. Elephant pass was the name given to the causeway spanning the shallow lagoon that separates the Jaffna peninsula from the rest of the island. During the Dutch colonial rule, elephants were exported from one of the islands lying off the Jaffna peninsula and an annual sale of elephants was also held in Jaffna. Elephants found all over the island was taken to the Jaffna peninsula, across this lagoon, which was later bridged and given the name, Elephant Pass. Although elephants do not come through this point anymore, the unique name still remains.
Since this lagoon is fed by a number of rivers from the south; it is home to a variety of water bird and was declared a bird sanctuary in 1938.
This causeway connects the peninsula to the mainland of Sri Lanka, forming a vital route to Jaffna therefore it controls access to the city. This journey is not just of distance, but also of landscape. As the lagoon is crossed, the land becomes progressively flat and the vegetation changes. There are no trees here offering any shade as opposed to other parts of the country except for the Palmyra palm trees that stand tall against the sky.
For most Sri Lankans, Elephant Pass still remains a slightly distant and mysterious place. To drive up north, is to enter less travelled country. Along the drive, unfamiliar towns roll by and you finally reach Elephant Pass; that final gateway you must cross to enter Jaffna. The journey is long, but once you look around, you will understand why travellers do not forget it. Over the years, through war, so much has changed but the birds and the sea and lagoon still remains in beauty.
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