Nagadeepa (Nagadipa) or Nainativu is one of the islands of the cluster of islands in the Palk Bay off the Jaffna peninsula.
Reaching Nagadeepa (Nagadipa)
The access to Nagadeepa is from the village of Kurikattuwan (Kurikadduwan) of the island of Punkudutivu: by a 20 minute boat ride over the Palk Bay. The island of Punkudutivu is connected by a causeway over the Palk Bay to Kayts, the largest island of the cluster. Kayts is in turn reached by a longer causeway, again over the Palk Bay from the city Jaffna. The total distance (land+ sea) from Jaffna to Nagadeepa 30 km.
Jaffna city located 404km north of Colombo in the northernmost Peninsula of Sri Lanka is reached by A3 main road that link to A9 main northern motor road.
Landing at the island of Nagadeepa (Nagadipa)
The sandy island of Nagadeepa, sheltered by Coconut palm groves as well as Palmyrah palm trees, features two main jetties set apart by a distance of no more than 300 meters: one of the jetties brings into the immediate vicinity, the Hindu Kovil at the beach while the other leads straight to the Nagadeepa Vihara, also in close proximity of the beach. The boats reaching the island opt for one or other jetty depending on the passengers brought in from Jaffna: should there be more Hindus, it will be moored at the jetty close to the Hindu Kovil; should there be more Buddhist passengers, the boat would be moored at the jetty closer to the Buddhist temple.
The stretch of beach between the Buddhist Temple and Hindu Kovil
On the motorable coastal road running past the Hindu Kovil and Buddhist Temple is a string of stalls that has formed a mini bazzar stretching for about hundred meters between the two shrines. While the population of the island is approximately 2,500 Sri Lankan Tamils and about 250 Muslims, the islands sees thousands of Sinhalese Buddhists on pilgrimage to the Buddhist temple, which is considered as one of the 16 holiest Buddhist Sites of Sri Lanka by virtue of being a location Buddha had visited in the 6th century B.C.
History of Nagadeepa (Nagadipa)
Nagadipa or Naka-diva is first mentioned in the Pali chronicles of Ceylon in connection with the story of the Buddha's second visit to Sri Lanka in the 6th century B.C. According to the Mahavamsa (ch.1.vv 44-70) the Buddha during this visit pacified two Naga kings of Nagadipa who were arrayed in battle over a gem-set throne. In the ancient chronicles the pre-historic Naga tribes are represented as non-human beings enriched with an advanced civilization.
Buddhist Temple Nagadeepa (Nagadipa)
The ancient temple encompassing the image houses and the stupa in which the gem-set throne was enshrined had been destroyed. Buddhist temple therein is a modern one. Unlike thousands of other stupas in the country, the modern Nagadeepa stupa is painted in silver in an attempt to protect its limestone structure from the relentless sea-wind.