Jaffna is located on the northern tip of Sri Lanka and is home to a dominant Tamil population. The city is often referred to as the Tamil cultural capital in Sri Lanka. Citizens of Jaffna are very friendly and wonderful people, which mean visiting this part of the island, should be a priority on your list of places to visit in Sri Lanka.
You are probably wondering why Jaffna tourism was never spoken about for decades? Well it has only been a few years since the end of the civil war in Sri Lanka, after which locals and foreigners were allowed to visit Jaffna. The peace is back now and there is absolutely no danger in travelling to Jaffna. Blue Lanka Tours can help you get there and have an enjoyable stay.
Places to visit
Once in Jaffna, here’s a list of places you should visit:
The Jaffna Library was known as one of the best in Asia before it was burnt down during the civil war. Today, most of it is restored and is open for the public. This building is one of the monuments of Jaffna, located very close to the town.
Located on the southern end of the Jaffna peninsula, the ancient fort is the second largest and well preserved fort in the country. In 1619, the Potuguese built this fort, which was then expanded and re-built by the Dutch in the 17th and 18th centuries respectively. The reason of expansion was to facilitate trading activities in the northern region of Sri Lanka. The Jaffna fort was of significant importance throughout Sri Lankan history, particularly to the Europeans.
- Nallur Temple
Known as Jaffna’s premier Hindu worship place, the Nallur Kandasamy Kovil is distinguished by a golden arch and a sophisticated gopuram. Hundreds of worshippers and pilgrims are attracted to this Kovil which was built during the 18th century. The original temple was built during the reign of Tamil Kings but was destroyed by the Portuguese in 1620 and was located on the site which is currently where the St. James Church is built. A 26 day long Temil religious festival in Jaffna’s peninsula takes place at the Nallur Temple. This festival begins 26 days before the full moon day in the month of August.
- Nainativu Island
This is one of the holiest sites for Buddhists and Hindus in Sri Lanka. Get into any local bus heading towards Nagdeepa from Jaffna town. Boat services are available in Nagdeepa as an enjoyable means of visiting this island. You will need approximately 2-3 hours to get there because it is a little far from the Jaffna Peninsula and sometimes the availability of boats are scarce.
- Naga Pooshani Ambal Kovil
This Temple is dedicated to Goddess Meenkashi (wife of Lord Shiva). Many Tamil parents bring new born babies to this temple to seek the blessings of their Goddess. The original temple was uprooted by a rich foreign trader who was once blessed by Goddess Ambal Devi. The Portuguese demolished the original temple in the 16th century but locals managed to hide the Ambal statue and then rebuilt the temple in the 18th century. The gopuram was then added in 1933.
- Nagadipa Purana Vihara
This temple is an important attraction for Buddhist pilgrims because it was one of the three places in Sri Lanka that have been visited by Lord Buddha. During Lord Buddha’s second visit to Sri Lanka, He settled a dispute regarding the ownership of a gem-studded throne. At that time, two warring Naga kings known an Mahodara and Chulodara constructed the Purana Vihara.
- Casuarina Beach
With shallow waters and gentle waves, the Casuarina beach is one of the best in the Jaffna Peninsula.
- Charty Beach
Located about 23kms north of Jaffna town, Charty Beach is a clean and prestigious beach that one must visit.
Keerimalai is where a natural water spring emerges which is popular for miraculously curing illnesses after one bathes in it. There is only a wall that separates the pool from the sea but that water that comes in the spring is absolutely fresh.
The neighboring Naguleeswaram Temple is also a popular one amongst the Hindu’s.
- Catholic Cathedrals
Although Jaffna is mostly a Hindu town, there are many Roman Catholic Churches in the town. Some of these include St. John’s, St. Mary’s, St. James’, and John the Baptist Church.
Things to do
- Enjoy a ‘cool rickshaw’ ride
- Try the famous ice cream shop – Lingam Cool Bar, located near the Nallur Kovil
- Catch some live fish at the fish market on the beach road.
- Observe the fascinating life and community in Jaffna as you walk on beach road.
- Be a part of one of the daily Hindu ceremonies at the Nallur Temple (recommended timings: 4.00-5.00pm)
- Eat a local meal at Hotel Relax Restaurant
- Take a walk around the town to check out some ruins from the civil war (bombed buildings, empty fields, decaying ruins, etc).
- Eat mangoes in Jaffna!