Jaffna otherwise known as Yapanaya is the capital city of the Northern Province of Sri Lanka. It is scattered with ancient Hindu kovils with colourful statues and colonial period churches that date back to the 17th century and the ruins of ancient Buddhist temples.
With a population of 88,138, Jaffna is Sri Lanka’s 12th largest city and is the place where you will be able to discover and explore the Tamil culture of Sri Lanka. Jaffna has undergone much hardship due to terrorism, but now it is once again welcoming visitors and looking to rise again.
The effects of this destructive and disturbing period will remain for many years. When you arrive from the south these can be evident as there are ruined homes, bombed churches, and civic buildings pockmarked by bullets. However, today the city is green and leafy with attractive palm shaded colonial era suburbs and beautiful Kovils and temples as well as churches.
There are plenty of activities and things to do and see in Jaffna in order to explore this beautiful town filled with diversity. These include,
- Visiting the Jaffna Fort. It stands at the edge of the Indian Ocean in Jaffna town, built by the Portuguese in 1618 and has a long rich history.
- Exploring the Jaffna market as it is located in the heart of Jaffna town. Here Villagers sell their home grown fruits and vegetables and dried fish to hand woven baskets made of Palmyra palm leaves which you can purchase.
- Eat fiery Jaffna crab curry or Thosai with Rasam on a banana leaf.
- Birding on the Jaffna Lagoon & the Kayts causeway as this area becomes a hotspot for birdwatchers interested in seeing waders, ducks and other rare migrant birds during the migrant season which is from September to March every year. The pink flocks of Greater Flamingos will take your breath away for sure as you watch these beautiful birds resting in large numbers on the causeways.
- Attend a Puja (religious service) with chanting and drumming at the Nallur Kandasamy Kovil.
- Exploring Kovils such as Punnalai Varatharaje Perumal Kovil, Vallipuram Kovil, Naguleswaram Kovil and Nallur Kandasamy Kovil.
- Exploring colonial period churches, including St Martin’s Seminary, St James’ Church, Holy Family convent, and St Johns Anglican Church. Also Vaddukoddai church built by the Portuguese in 1678 and is located 10km west of Jaffna town.
- A visit to the Nainativu Island. It is the ancient Nagadeepa Buddhist Vihara with a stupa, Bo tree and image house that commemorates the Lord Buddha’s third visit to Sri Lanka.
- Delft Island, located about an hour’s ferry ride away from the Punkuditivu pier, spans across 4,700 hectares and is home to about 1,800 families. Here you can watch graceful wild horses.
- Indulge in a Rio Ice crème topped with jelly and mangos.
- Visiting the Fort Hammenhiel in Karainagar as it is a fascinating Portuguese Fort built in the 17 century out of coral stone and stands. Also, it is the only Fort in Sri Lanka that has been built in the sea.
- Casuarina Beach in Karainagar is a pleasant and picturesque beach with safe shallow waters which is perfect for swimming.
- Manalkadu dessert as it is a unique landscape on the tropical island of Sri Lanka. Here you will also be able to discover ruins of St. Anthony’s church.
- Point Pedro is the northern most point of Sri Lanka and faces the Bay of Bengal and is a tourist attraction. Fishing is the main livelihood in this area and the beaches are lined with fishing boats and fisherman preparing their daily catch for drying under the scorching sun.
- There are also plenty of temples (Vihara) in Jaffna for example Kantharodai Viharaya which is located about half an hour from Jaffna town and is an ancient Buddhist site and also the Dambakola Patuna Viharaya in Madagal.
- A visit to the Jaffna Archaeological Museum as it is an interesting museum but difficult to find. Also exploring the famous library.
- Hot springs of Keerimalai.