Yal Devi Train & Why She was Christen as Yal Devi
Yal Devi and the rail track of the Yal Devi, we can not separate them apart and also we can NOT talk about any of them without the other.
My interest of this post is to encourage you to take New Yal Devi train to Jaffna as she is still very young and beautiful while it gives you more advantages over any other mean of travelling to Jaffna
Note: Yal Devi Train at Jaffna Station
If you look back the history of Yal Devi, Yal Devi made her maiden journey on April 23, 1956, with two other trains, Udarata Menike and Ruhunu Kumari and because of this many, Sri Lankans considered them as three sisters.
There were many reason for these three sisters to be operated but it is not my interest to write about these three distinct trains in this post.
Notes: Old Yal Devi Train [Source: https://www.yamu.lk/place/yal-devi/]
There are many stories how Yal Devi was christened but what I found was this: The british build the railway to Jaffna and it was called Jaffna mail(Night Mail) not Yal Devi.
If you study the Hindu or Tamil GODS, there is no goddess or godhead is called Yal. Then how did people of Jaffna christened the mail train to YAL.
Let me make long history short, a blind poet from India came to Sri Lanka with his Lyre(a Yal) and He recited to King Jayatunga Vararasasinghe.
This poet had composed many poems to praise the king of Kandy at that time . King was delighted about this blind poet and rewarded this blind poet and named him Virarakavan and also gave him a part of northern lanka.
WOW!!!, look at the kingship at that time, If somebody praise or make him happy, they get everything. In my opinion there is no different in today’s politics and ancient politics.
if you are in the good books of king or president, you get everything :-). I guess, it is true in the corporate life too. anyway!!
Note: I took this photo when normal Yal Devi at Kondavil Station at 7:00AM
They named the northern Lanka as Yalpanam(Tamil name of Jaffna).Yal mean Lyre and Panam means poet.This is how Jaffna peninsula name became Yalpanam among people of Jaffna.
So when the train system was started by the british, it was called the mail train and the Tamil community of Jaffna called their mail train, Yal Devi(Devi mean Queen).
That is the short story of how Mail Train was christened as Yal Devi 🙂 among the Jaffna community.
Note:This is how New Yal Devi train outlook. I recorded this when we were waiting to board into the Yal Devi at the Jaffna Station at 1:41PM
Lets look at some statistics and figures about the rail track. The railway track distance between Polgahawela Junction(The first station after Pettah Main Station) and Vavuniya is 409 kms (256 miles) and it has approximately 55 Stations.
But the last passenger train on this line ran on January 19, 1985 as terrorists bombed the Yal Devi train at Kokavil and destroyed the entire train tracks.
The attack effectively ended the north-south rail transport and also it ceased the connection between major cities.
Northern railway(what was distorted ) track is 159 KM long and it consists of approximately 85 bridges , 16 railway stations which were needed to rebuilt again if we need to connect the two cultures each other again.
Based on the ““Uthuru Wasanthaya” project initiated by the Rajapaksa regime, the railway line constructed under the Indian credit line of USD 800 million and it was started its first journey to Jaffna after reopening on the 14th of October 2014, after 24 years.
This second maiden journey of Yal Devi to Jaffna not only connected two major cities but also connected many lives each other and also put foundation to rebuild Sri Lanka while uniting each of these cultures.
Once again, my whole hearted interest of this post is to encourage you to take New Yal Devi train to Jaffna as she is very young and beautiful still while it gives you more advantages over any other mode of travelling to Jaffna.
I may be wrong, but it is my opinion.
Let me show you the facilities that it carries 🙂
How about these seats !!!!. if you are foreigner or come from a very developed county, this is a very simple thing and common standard but for us, Sri Lankan , this is luxury service that we can expect from Sri Lankan government 🙂
Every compartments of the train looks like this. It is a super luxury compared to other trains in Sri Lank.
What I mean, the entire train not just one or two apartment.The entire train is air conditioned.
Tickets are issued based on the number of seats in the train therefore you do not find passenger travelling standing.
You do not get pressed by the other passengers when travelling as it is not jam- packed.
These seats are clean and look very new.
If you want to eat something decently, it is geared with the proper facility like in an air plane. Use these facilities with care.
You can rest your feet if you want but the only thing is, when you remove your feet, it goes back therefore be careful when you use this.
You can turn the seats each other. Look at the above photos. Ari and Sampath were having a marketing discussion in the train :-). It is geared with every facility.
Wow!!!! . Look at the canteen facility. it is much more comfortable that passengers are us. most of the time, I was on these seats as you can see the both side of the railway track very clearly.
Myself and Ari had many discussions on these seats and tables on both up and down journey.
The canteen provides basic eatables. you can buy drinks , biscuits,water bottles and Lunch packets.There is a price list and you can select whatever you want.
Tea and Coffee are made out using machine. If you ask for a coffee, you get a nescafe or milk Coffee.
Every compartment is separated by a electric door. you need to press a button to open and it will close automatically. Please do not try to close manually.
There are two types of toilets and you can use either one if you want. These are very clean at the time of I took the photos :-).
Please note that, it is a NO Smoking and NO Liquor Train. You can not drink or smoke inside. there are two policemen.
These policemen are very strict be aware of that.
The only negative factor of the Yal Devi is, It wobbles. Journey of the train until Omanthai station was very wobbly. It is like you travelling by an old train but this was due to old rail road track. New railway line was built after Omanthai Station.
After Omanthai station, you feel like, you are in a ballot train.
Why not take a ride with this young and beautiful queen of Jaffna to Jaffna.