To travel 30 km from India to Sri Lanka, do I really have to take a 1500 km, 20 hour detour?
I'm in Tamil Nadu, India.
Let's say I go to the area around Rameswaram, India, and that after that I want to visit the area around Mannar Island, Sri Lanka. Getting a visa for Sri Lanka is done very quickly online for my passport. (I've done it before.)
If I were to pay some fishermen or something to bring me over, it shouldn't take more than roughly two hours. But I have a feeling this might be illegal? I'm not too keen on being taken into custody by coast guard personnel. Now, is it in fact illegal, even if I have a visa for Sri Lanka? If it's legal, will I still have to find a way to report to both countries' authorities about my border crossing?
I will not break either country's law.
What other options do I have?
According to Skyscanner, the only possible airports are Chennai (MAA) and Colombo (CMB). Can anyone find a more convenient flight?
This means I have to travel 520 km by road to Chennai airport.
Going through the airports, checking in, waiting, flying, etc, should take around 4 hours at best.
Then, I've got to get from Colombo to Mannar Island, which is another 280 km.
I'm estimating that such a road/air journey would take at least 20 hours (more, if I stop to rest or sleep), and cost me several hundred USD, depending on choice of flight and what kind of ground transportation I use.
Now, is there any faster and/or cheaper option here? Remember that everything has to be perfectly legal to both countries.
+1 I think the question is find but another way to frame it would be "What are the formalities for private crafts going to Sri Lanka". There is typically a procedure for that and it's not unusual for countries to have a number of designated port of entries where ships must call when coming from abroad.
@Relaxed Well, there could be more answers, such as a commercial ferry, a more convenient flight, licensed boats, licensed small aircraft, etc.
True, maybe asking one or two separate questions, then? Or at least a title like "Crossing from India to Sri Lanka: Do I really need to make a huge detour though Chennai airport?"... Like I said, I think it's a fine question but my concern is that the headline does not really indicate what specific problem you have and could easily be overlooked by someone knowledgeable about yachting and port procedures in Sri Lanka.
@Relaxed Oh, I see. I edited the title, I hope this will prevent the question from being overlooked by people with the knowledge.
@Relaxed Yeah, it looks very relevant. Something similar probably needs to be done in regards to Indian authorities too.
There is supposedly a port of entry at Talaimannar Pier, but I am having trouble locating it. It might be closed.
Its kind of like getting from Panama to Colombia or colombia to panama (no roads). You would probably need to hire a private broker ahead of time to let local authorities know you are coming. Then once you arrive he or she will meet you upon arrival and have all necessary documents ready and provide you with transportation to the proper immigration authorities to get your visa completed. The broker handles everything and may be able to email you something that you could carry with you on the fishing vessel that would cover you if the coast guard intervenes. This is what I had to do when I hire
Now, is it in fact illegal, even if I have a visa for Sri Lanka? If it's legal, will I still have to find a way to report to both countries' authorities about my border crossing?
If you arrive by unconventional means, you will run into the burden of proving the legitimacy of your visit. It is upto you as a traveller to prove you have the right to be in the country and that you have arrived legally and are not violating any laws (for example, by smuggling goods).
One way to do this is to enter via a know port of entry (such as the airport) where the government provides facilities to assist with your legal entry.
If you arrive by boat/fisherman - and then leave by airport, you may be questioned as to why you don't have an entry stamp (if such a thing is required) and this may lead to many further complications - ranging from a fee to detention and deportation.
Further if you are intercepted by the coast guard, you'll have to come up with more than a smile to explain what you are doing ferrying across instead of taking the normal route.
If you happen to cross into the territorial waters and are then intercepted, you are effectively an illegal immigrant. The coast guard doesn't have the authority to validate your visa; so you'll be taken into custody and then ... well, I would just rather not risk it.
Bottom line - take the plane.
Yeah, I pretty much agree with this answer. I just find it astounding if there's really no other legal way to cross this narrow strait. It may have something to do with the tense political climate between the state government of Tamil Nadu and the government of Sri Lanka.
@Fiksdal: did you see the link in the second comment on the question, about formalities for arriving in Sri Lanka by yacht? It seems from that that there *is* a legal procedure for crossing by boat, it just may involve quite a bit of individual work to arrange.
@PLL Yeah, this is very relevant, could be answer worthy. Something similar probably should be done in relation to Indian authorities.