Manalkadu Desert

Certainly one of the more bizarre attractions in Jaffna, the Manalkadu Desert is a unique area in the Jaffna Peninsula that boasts of an eerie atmosphere, very similar to desolate lands that have been abandoned for ages and its only remains; structures of a bygone era. Located on the outskirts of the peninsula, the formation of the Manalkadu Desert is a result of a unique natural phenomenon as well, thus making it just one of the many attractions of the diverse nature present in the Pearl of the Indian Ocean.

Best Known For

  • The Manalkadu Desert is best known for being one of the more hidden natural wonders in the northern coast of the Paradise Island, as it boasts of large dunes of pale golden sand that cover a vast barren land with the occasional casuarina tree dotting the landscape.
  • Coupled with the ruins of the century’s old St. Anthony’s Church, partly hidden in the sand dunes, the Manalkadu Desert is certainly a contrasting feature of Sri Lanka’s exotic greenery and lush vegetation.

Interesting Facts

  • The Manalkadu Desert is located in the more rural parts of the Jaffna Peninsula, in close proximity to the village of Vallipuram.
  • According to scientific research, the reason for such sand dunes to be in existence within the country is due to the winds caused by the South Indian monsoons.
  • Making this place all the more Sahara-like is the presence of a few villages that serve to be the only oases in the area, reminiscent of the Bedouin nomads in the Arabian Gulf.
  • Although mostly barren, the desert does have hidden treasures in the form of the St. Anthony’s Church that is believed to be more than 100 years old.
  • Presently, only sporting the pillars, along with a number of arches, the very site of the ruins certainly makes you feel like an archaeologist, looking for unchartered wonders.
  • The Manalkadu Desert stretches all the way to the beach, making it quite the site for many a traveller, be it local or foreign, due to the contrasting nature of the country’s typical image in the minds of the individual.

Times, Seasons and Tips

  • Being a desert, the best time to visit the unique place is during the afternoon or evening when the sun is at its most intense.
  • Many who venture out onto the sand dunes, often underestimate the vastness of the Manalkadu Desert, therefore it is imperative that you prepare yourself to battle the intense heat with necessary equipment, such as comfortable attire, along with snacks and plenty of water.
  • Do keep in mind that there are no vendors in the area and that it is vastly uninhabited, apart from a few locals in little huts built with Palmyrah leaves and roots.
  • It is also important to keep in mind that this place can only be reached via narrow roads that are often unnamed, therefore ask directions from a local or refer Google maps.
  • Please refrain from bringing any polythene or plastic to the area, so as to avoid polluting the exemplary landscapes of the area.

The Manalkadu Desert then, is clearly an off-the-beaten area of interest that gives an eerie, but intriguing impression on any and all who visit the area, due to the eclectic mix of that Middle Eastern vibe it gives out and archaeological monuments it possesses; go ahead and let that inner explorer out.

Title image by: KNOWSL The information displayed is provided by Manalkadu Desert

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Nature and Outdoors

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