Elephant Pass

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Elephant Pass
Northern Province, Sri Lanka
Elephant Pass is located in Sri Lanka
Elephant Pass
Elephant Pass
Coordinates 9°32′50″N 80°24′32″E / 9.54726°N 80.408936°E / 9.54726; 80.408936
Type Military base
Site information
Controlled by Flag of Sri Lanka.svg Sri Lankan Army (1952-2000)
Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (2000-2009)
Flag of Sri Lanka.svg Sri Lankan Army (2009-present)
Site history
Built 1952
Battles/wars First Battle of Elephant Pass
Second Battle of Elephant Pass
Third Battle of Elephant Pass

Elephant Pass, (Tamil: ஆனையிறவு, Sinhala: අලිමංකඩ) Northern Province, Sri Lanka is located in the gateway of Jaffna Peninsula. It has an important military base and formerly was the island's largest salt field. It has thus regularly been the site of battles during the civil war.

Strategic importance[edit]

Elephant Pass controls access to the Jaffna Peninsula, therefore it is referred to as the Gateway to Jaffna. It is very crucial as it is on the isthmus connecting the peninsula to the Sri Lankan mainland, as well as to territory in the Southern Jaffna peninsula. Elephant Pass connects the militarily significant town of Chavakacheri in the Jaffna peninsula to the Sri Lankan mainland.


Elephant Pass has been a strategic military base since 1760, when the Portuguese built a fort, which was later rebuilt and garrisoned by the Dutch in 1776[1] and later by the British. A modern military base was built there in 1952 by the Sri Lankan Army (SLA). At one time, the base and its outlying camps expanded to cover an area 23 kilometres (14 mi) long and 8 kilometres (5.0 mi) wide.[1]

Role during the Sri Lankan Civil War[edit]

Main article: Sri Lankan Civil War
Daimler Armoured Car rusting by a tree in the area around Elephant Pass
Chundikkulam Lagoon, often referred as Elephant Pass Lagoon

The base was under SLA control until 2000, despite repeated attempts to capture it by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE, also known as the Tamil Tigers). In the First Battle of Elephant Pass in 1991, the LTTE suffered heavy losses while trying to capture the pass. The base was used as a springboard for a number of SLA offensives during the 1990s, including Operation Yal Devi (named after the Colombo-Jaffna train) in September 1993 and Operation Sath Jaya (Truth’s Victory) in July 1996.[2]

However in a major military defeat, the Sri Lankan Army lost control of the pass to the LTTE on April 22, 2000 in the Second Battle of Elephant Pass.[2][3] The pass was finally captured by Sri Lankan force in Third Battle of Elephant Pass, as part of campaign that led to destruction of Tamil Tigers.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b D.B.S. JEYARAJ (May 2000). "The taking of Elephant Pass" 17 (10). Frontline. 
  2. ^ a b "Tigers seize Elephant Pass". Sri Lanka Monitor. April 2000. Retrieved 2009-01-10. 
  3. ^ Susannah Price (2000-05-03). "Sri Lankan army on the ropes". BBC News. Retrieved 2009-01-10.