The Northernmost capital, Jaffna, is dry, with blue skies and balmy sea air. It has traditional Tamil culture, centered on the palmyrah tree, as its background. Even though the war in Jaffna ended 6 years back, many people are still in the process of discovering the arid beauty of the peninsula. Ancient holy places, remains of medieval palaces, and spots of great natural beauty: Jaffna is like no other place in the country.
Visit Nallur Temple
A visit to the sacred Nallur Temple in Jaffna town is a must. The temple’s history goes back to the 8th Century, though the original edifice is no longer there. A place of paramount religious and social importance for Sri Lankan Tamils, Nallur is deemed a model for all Saiva temples.
Stroll leisurely at the Old Park
Enjoy the serenity of the Old Park with its manicured lawns, trees, benches and interesting colonial legacy. This park was originally built in the 19th century as the gardens and grounds of the residency of the British Government Agent (GA) for the Northern Povince.
Sail by boat to the historic Nagadeepa, where the Buddha made the second of his several visits to the country. Legends that Nagadeepa was at the time occupied by a people called the ‘Nagas’ are testimony to the fact that humans had lived in the islet from antiquity.
While on the islet of Nagadeepa, visit the Naga Pooshani Amman Kovil, where women throng to pray for the blessing of motherhood. Dedicated to Parvati and her consort Shiva, the temple is said to be the work of Lord Indra himself. It has no less than four magnificent gopurams.
Architecture in Jaffna
Take time to admire the architecture in Jaffna. It is a hotchpotch of influences. Though it has a South Indian base, many other styles have left their mark on it.
Chill out with a Rio Icecream
A trip to Jaffna would be incomplete without experiencing the legendary tastes of Rio Ice Cream. Rio’s selection of scoops, sundaes and specials would be just the thing for the hot and thirsty afternoon so typical of Jaffna.
Handicrafts in Jaffna
Visit the Palmyrah Handicrafts Centre to choose from an array of products made from the palmyrah palm. The quaint-patterned basket ware, hats and other products help local women in need earn a decent monthly income.
Casuarina beach is an idyllic location to take pleasure in the beauty of nature while frolicking in the shallow depths of soft sand and coral reefs. Considered the best beach in Jaffna, it has white sand and is lined by Casuarina trees (which gives it its name).
Sangilean Thoppu is another monument worth a visit. It is an arch that was part of the Jaffna palace of the old ruling family of the Aryacakravartis. The history of the Jaffna palace goes as far back as 104 AD. Apart from the archway, Yamuna Eri and Mantri Manai are the only remnants of the once grand palace.
The mighty Fort in Jaffna is omnipresent amidst the parched background and surrounded by the placid seawaters. Originally built by the Portuguese and renovated by the Dutch, the fort used to house a miraculous statue of the virgin. Today the Governor's residence, Queen’s House, Jaffna, the Garrison Parade Ground, Police quarters and several buildings from the Portuguese era can be viewed inside.