Located more than 7 hours away, up north from Colombo, Mullaitivu may be a rather ignored entity in many a travel itinerary due to its violent past, as it was once a major theatre of conflict during the 3 decade long Civil War. However, as the process of reconciliation makes way for a peaceful Sri Lanka, Mullaitivu has become a great place of interest for the wide eyed traveller looking to understand how the simple fishing town transformed into a terrorist stronghold and then back again, to a peaceful town. Mullaitivu is an exemplary case, which showcases the defiant nature of the Sri Lankan people.

Top Reason to Visit

Due to the absence of any natural splendour or ancient historical significance to be found in Mullaitivu, travel guides generally ignore this little fishing town. However, its heavy involvement in the 3 decade long Civil War does account for something and due to the reconciliation process the government has implemented, Mullaitivu has become an epicentre for understanding what really happened among the conflicting sides of the Civil War, making it the ideal destination for the history buff. Therefore, the top reason to visit the coastal town is not for the beaches or the other natural features, but its ability to educate the wide eyed traveller in one of the long standing conflicts in the world.

While You’re There

War tourism:

What really rings loud in Mullaitivu is its violent past in the form of the 3 decade long Civil War that ended in 2009. Mullaitivu was once a stronghold for the terrorist organisation, the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) and has been at the crossroads of many horrific battles between government forces and the rebel organisation. Many vestiges of the 30 year long Civil War are scattered across Mullaitivu. Such notable exhibits are the 83 foot long swimming pool and the submarine, just two reminders of how the LTTE attempted to expand their naval operations. Another interesting feature is the MV Farah III, which was a Jordanian cargo ship hijacked by the LTTE, which now sits peacefully on the beaches of Mullaitivu. Therefore, justifying Mullaitivu as a destination which showcases the physical remainders of the violent trials and tribulations and war machinery of the Civil War, the perfect place for the history buff.

The last stand:

In addition to being a stronghold of the LTTE, it also proved to be the last stand of the organisation and it is immortalised by the war memorial and the war museum in Pudukuiruppu. With many exhibits, including the technology and the strategies used during the conflict showcased in the museum, one can understand what took place in the final hours of the conflict. Take the opportunity to pay respect to the men and women that sacrificed their lives to make the world a little bit safer at the memorial.

A positive outcome:

One might expect that since Mullaitivu was in the heat of the Civil War, tensions between ethnic groups are still rife among each other, however, this is not the case as seen in the Vattappalai Kannakki Amman Temple, dedicated to Goddess Kannakki Amma, which plays host to one of the major festivals of the area in May; the Vaikasi Visakam Pongal Thiruvilla. Here it is possible to see the different ethnic groups and even the armed forces stationed in the area joining the processions, showering flowers on the temple, reflection the now collaborative nature of the society that live in this area.

Lagoons, lagoons and lagoons:

Although famed for its role in the Civil War, the town still sports some amazing natural features that do produce some awe inspiring images every now and then. The lagoons of Nandikadal and Nayaru prove to be some of the more untouched lagoons of the country that teems with a variety of endemic wetland birds. Further accentuating such fauna is the backdrop of the sun slowly emerging and descending from the distance, in the wee hours of the morning and the late hours of the evening respectively. Grab your camera, stroll along the edges of the lagoons and have a go at clicking the perfect image of one of Sri Lanka’s untarnished lagoons.

Insider Advice

Travel: Getting about the area is relatively easy as there are quite a number of tuk-tuks and busses. Should you choose to hire a tuk-tuk though, make sure you research the distance of your destination, since they could overcharge.

Weather: Mullaitivu experiences a typical tropical climate throughout the year, along with occasional rainfall. However, the months from January to April have proven to be the time in which the place experiences a more stable condition, where temperatures would average around 29°C with a relatively bearable humidity.

Money: Credit and debit cards are worthless here, therefore it is imperative that you carry cash in hand with small note like LKR 20s, LKR 50s and LKR 100s for easier transactions.

Clothing: It is best to be clad in light, comfortable clothing so as to traverse through the town with ease.

Safety: Ever since the end of the Civil War in 2009, Mullaitivu has become a very safe and tourist friendly place, although it is quite underdeveloped. Do be mindful of your belongings though.

Meals and refreshments: There are a very few local eateries scattered across town, however, due to the limited amount of them, it might be easier to opt for your lodgings’ provision.

In conclusion, Mullaitivu may be ignored by many travel guide books due to its violent past, however, the reconciliation process implemented by the government has made the little fishing town a tourist friendly area, where anyone can learn Sri Lanka’s triumph over hatred and terrorism, further making it a fine place to include in your travel itinerary.

Title image by: Roshie Kahandawela
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