Jaffna, the northern town with a unique flavor of Sri Lanka, has many features that only she can boast of. Thousands flock to this town just to get the feel of the culture, the people, and her exquisite cuisine
The taste has just got better with the addition of its very own ice cream flavors, under the brand name Rio. No. This has nothing to do with the international conference on climate change. But it does help you chill amidst all the heat of the outside world.
Forty years ago, when this ice cream shop opened, no one would have dreamt of such a growth. The small outlet has reached people far and wide to such an extent that those who visit Jaffna make it a ritual to experience what is believed to be one of the best ice cream parlors in the country.
Rio was not heard of beyond the peninsula despite being in the business for over four decades due to the war.
‘Rio Ice Cream’ has become so popular within a very short span of time that it has become synonymous with Jaffna. The unique flavor it has to offer has made it a big hit among all age groups who visit the peninsula. Although a tad sweeter than one would like, the mixture and the diverse flavor continues to attract hundreds to its outlet.
‘Rio Ice Cream’ has its main outlet in Nallur, a town known for its temple and Ther (Chariot) festival that continues to attract thousands of devotees from the world over.
The Kandasamy kovil festival attracts thousands of devotees every year. The numbers were at a lull for three decades owing to the war and the prevalent tense security situation in the peninsula, but now they have radically increased over the three years of peace.
The growth has been a phenomenal one, even the owner, Bhaskaran, is surprised. “I never expected that the place would be popular, especially among the people in the South,” he told The Nation.
Bhaskaran is looking to expand his business thanks to the popularity reached during a short span. He has already started distributing his products in Negombo and Colombo. “I am just trying it out. It has been successful so far. And I hope it will grow in future,” he said.
Apart from the already earned popularity among the residents in Jaffna, ‘Rio Ice Cream’ grabbed the attention of tourists due to the huge influx of tourists after the end of the war. In other words, Bhaskaran only used the situation to his advantage, and it worked big time.
“We had a few people coming in during the peace process between 2002 and 2005, but it was not as big as it is now,” he said. He pointed out that despite the peace process, traveling to Jaffna continued to be a burden due to severe security measures adopted by security forces and the LTTE at the Muhamalai and Omanthai entry-exit points.
“People used to visit the peninsula during that time. But, not in big numbers due to the stringent security measures,” he said.
The business skyrockets when Nallur goes to festive mode. Thousands of devotees and tourists arrive annually for the Ther festival during which all the leading ice cream stalls are put up adjoining the kovil premises. And ‘Rio ice cream’ stands out, thanks to its new found popularity due to its unique flavor.
Rio Special has four scoops of ice cream – vanilla, mango, fruit and nut, and milk flavored ice cream. The milk flavored ice cream is unique to Rio. It has an unusual taste, but is delicious. This unique flavor also blends with the rest of the added flavors to make it a heavenly experience. The package does not end there. Underneath the ice creams lie the jelly and fruit mixture. courtesy: The Nation