Situated in the Northern Province of Sri Lanka, Jaffna is at a distance of about 400 kilometres from Colombo, along the main A9 road. Having a predominantly Tamil population, Jaffna is deemed as the cultural capital of Tamils in Sri Lanka. The locals there display an unmatched sense of hospitality, and their kindness will surely make you feel as if though you are home away from home.
Initially bearing the name ‘Nagadipa’ Jaffna was first mentioned in the Pali chronicles of Sri Lanka. This city comes to light in correspondence with the story of the second visit of the Buddha to Sri Lanka in the 6th century B.C. It was during this time that the two Naga kings had developed a rivalry over a gem set throne, which was then settled by the Buddha, restoring peace in the region.
Jaffna comprises of a few small low lying islands which are connected by a causeway and can be visited via a rickshaw, bus or simply by doing a scenic walk.
Bordered by shallow waters of the Jaffna lagoon, in the southern region of the town is the second largest Dutch fort in Sri Lanka. Constructed by the Portuguese, under the leadership of Philippe de Oliveira, the fort is located near Karaiyur. It holds its popularity due to many miracles which are accredited to the statue of Mother Mary and it was named as the ‘Fortress of Our Lady of Miracles of Jafanapatao’. Captured by the Dutch in 1658, which also expanded it, and then later taken over by the British in 1795, it remains the largest military fort in the island.
Another popular attraction in Jaffna is the Nallur Kandaswamy Kovil built by the British to enshrine the Hindu God Murugan. It has now expanded into a massive compound, comprising of elegantly ornamented corridors, complete with a magnificent courtyard and an enormous tank. Yearly feasts are hosted by the kovil in remembrance of Lord Murugan’s victory over a demon where the celebration even consists of traditional kavadi dancers.
The Keerimalai Hot Water Springs, located close to Kankasanturai are believed to bear healing powers. Emerging through the crevices of the rocks, these waters accumulate many minerals along its path. On the new moon day of July, many a Hindus gather here to take a dip and pay respects to their demised ancestors.
Point Pedro, a popular village in Jaffna demarcates the northernmost point of Sri Lanka. A trip up the lighthouse here allows you to feast your eyes on the exquisite stretch of blue ocean and the beautiful views of the city.
In addition to numerous more attractions, the East Indian inspired meals Jaffna offers will surely take your taste buds on a ride. Rich in flavour and variety, you will find yourself asking for more of these wonderfully prepared meals by the locals.
You can also pay a visit to the many small scale fish markets and colourful stalls run by local vendors. Be sure to enjoy the local produce, including fruit, savouries and even street food because that is something you would not want to miss!
More temples, sanctuaries, ruins and the extravagant beaches altogether contribute to the magnificence of Jaffna and rest assured, this city will leave you with unforgettable memories.