Welcome to Point Pedro, also known as Paruthithurai, a town located in Jaffna District, Sri Lanka, at the northernmost point of the island. This hidden gem is often overlooked by tourists, but it boasts a rich history, breathtaking landscapes, and mouthwatering local cuisine. Join us as we uncover the many treasures of Point Pedro and reveal why this enchanting destination should be on every traveler’s bucket list.
Point Pedro is famous for its cotton production, which is grown in the fertile calcic red latosol soils. The town’s eastern coast forms a 3-mile-wide, 20-mile-long beach with sand dunes up to 100 feet high, extending to Thalayady. The porous soil has a water table deep underground with an estimated one billion liters of fresh water. However, the Boxing Day tsunami of 2004 raised the salt content of the groundwater, destroying parts of the town and submerging some parts with seawater up to 4 feet deep.
The place name of Point Pedro is a corruption of the Portuguese Ponta das Pedras, meaning the rocky cape. The name of the town in Tamil is Paruthithurai, which literally means Cotton Harbour. The harbor exported cotton to South India for centuries. Vallipuram, a nearby village, was an ancient settlement with rich archaeological remains. During pre-colonial and colonial times, Point Pedro was a trading port. There is a large number of people in and around Point Pedro who trace their families to local traders, called Sambangarar, meaning ship people in Tamil.
Point Pedro has a small harbor, which is controlled by the Sri Lankan army. If the much-delayed and frequently re-planned Sethusamudram Shipping Canal Project is completed, deepening the Palk Straits between India and Sri Lanka to allow larger ships to pass, rather than having to travel 650 km (350 nmi) around Sri Lanka, then Point Pedro and other ports in the Jaffna peninsula may see a significant increase in maritime trade, especially with India.
Heritage sites in Point Pedro include the lighthouse, the hill of St. Lourdes church of Thumpalai, and Vallipuram temple. There are several Catholic churches built around Point Pedro along the coasts and in Nelliady. Sacred Heart College is a major Catholic high school situated in Nelliady. Wesleyan missionaries from Great Britain established schools in the area, including Hartley College and the Methodist Girls High School. There are American mission schools at Uduppiddy and Thunnalai.
Schools in the town include Hartley College, Velautham Maha Vidyalayam, Vadamarachchi Hindu Girls College, and Methodist Girls High School. Point Pedro Institute of Development is also located in the town.
In conclusion, Point Pedro is a hidden gem that is often overlooked by tourists. It boasts a rich history, breathtaking landscapes, and mouthwatering local cuisine. With its cotton production, ancient settlements, and trading ports, Point Pedro is a must-visit destination for history buffs. Its heritage sites, including the lighthouse, St. Lourdes church, and Vallipuram temple, are a testament to its rich cultural heritage. So pack your bags and head to Point Pedro, Sri Lanka, for an unforgettable adventure!