Jaffna is the jewel of the Northern province and a place I consider a must visit for any Sri Lankan. Because of the terrorist problems Jaffna wasn’t accessible for many Sri Lankans, but the end of the war has enabled many Sri Lankans to visit Jaffna and enjoy the rich history and culture of the town. Keep in mind that there are many things to see on your way to Jaffna as well.Mentioned below are some of the top places to Visit in Jaffna. Jaffna is a large town and there are many things to see, If you think I have missed something feel free to mention them in the comments. You may also want to check out places to visit in Jaffna peninsula.
One of the most popular places in Jaffna. Nallur kovil ( නල්ලුර් කෝවිල ) is a sacred destination of the Hindu’s and millions come here every year to worship. If you’re not Hindu still you can admire the beautiful paintings and the statues found in the kovil. It is located about 1Km from Jaffna town and you can find plenty of places to stay near the kovil. Don’t forget to visit the famous ice cream shop near the kovil, they serve some of the best ice cream for a very reasonable price.
Built by the Portuguese when they invaded Jaffna it has served as a military camp for Dutch, British and now the Sri Lanka army. It was under siege several times during the war with the terrorists and still has reminders of those bitter battles. It has undergone renovation and some parts are accessible to visitors. It is much better if you can go there with a good guide so you can learn about the recent battles, how army captured it defended it etc.
Nagadeepa island ( නාගදීපය ) is situated a bit far from Jaffna and it takes about 2-3 hours to reach the place. But any visit to Jaffna wont be completed without a visit to the island. In the island you will find the famous Nagadeepa Temple and the Naga Pooshani Ambal kovil. Because both Buddhists and Hindu’s visit there in number it can get very crowded during weekends. There is a boat service managed by the Navy to reach the island and it’s a hot humid ride especially during the noon. The historic temple is not large but you will find some nice paintings there. The kovil is also worth a visit. Most people visit there for the experience.
I wouldn’t call it an attraction but some people love to visit the place. Before it was burned down it was one of the best and largest libraries in Asia. Now it is being renovated and people can visit some parts of the library. Worth a visit if you have some time.
Jaffna market is a vibrant place and you can find some items unique to the north. Roasted cuttlefish stuffed with spices, The famous Nelli drink bottles and dried fish are some of the most sought after items.
Places to Visit in Jaffna Peninsula
Jaffna is on the top of the island so most people visit here only once. So most of the time they visit all the important places in the Jaffna peninsula. Some of those places include Point Pedro ( පේදුරු තුඩුව ), Dambakola Patuna ( දඹකොළ පටුන ), Keeramalai ( කීරමලේ ) and Casuarina beach. I will cover those in a separate post. Keep in mind though that there are plenty of sites to see when you are on the way to Jaffna as well. For some user reviews of these places check out the trip adviser reviews.