Elephantpass, a narrow causeway linking the northern Jaffna Peninsula with the rest of Sri Lanka, was the site of many bloody battles during the island's quarter-century civil war. Now it's the site of nation's most famous bulldozer. Covered in iron meshing and armour plating, the mean-looking machine sits on a pedestal, a testament to the over 25 years of conflict that ended in May 2009, and the nearly 80,000 lives lost along the way.
The bulldozer was used by the Tamil Tigers in July 1991 in an attempt to breach the defenses of a Sri Lankan army garrison stationed at Elephantpass. They would have succeeded if it weren't for the actions of government soldier Gamini Kularatne, who lobbed a grenade into its belly, stopping it in its tracks and dying in the act. The war ended 18 years after Kularatne's heroics, when the Tamil Tigers were destroyed by government forces. Since then, the bulldozer has become the most popular stopover point on the A9 highway, a road that runs through the northern Vanni region that was under Tiger control for over a decade until the war's end. Opposite the bulldozer, four more vehicles once used by the Tigers lie close to where they were abandoned in battle, sunlight streaking into the darkened interiors through bullet holes.