Jaffna is one of the newest locations of Sri Lanka where everyone wants to visit, explore and well, talk about. To be honest, it is not at all a new location but because of the War that was in action for almost 30 years, nobody was ready to come to Jaffna.
How to get to Jaffna
If you are in Colombo, the easiest would be to take the train. It starts from Mt. Lavinia railway station at 05:10 a.m. and comes to the Colombo Fort railway at 05:20 a.m. Best to take pre-book the train ticket to Jaffna in the A/C compartment and the cost is around LKR 1500 per person. Go for the return ticket, it’s much easier. With a limited number of stops, you reach Jaffna by 12.30 p.m. With the A/C and a decent cafeteria on board, the train ride is nothing but fun. For returning from Jaffna to Colombo, board the train at 06.10 a.m. from Jaffna and you arrive to Colombo by 13.45 p.m.
where to stay in jaffna
There are lots of hotel options now. New hotels are built up and in operation while the old ones are upgraded and offers a very good service as well. Here are some of the hotels to try:
- Jetwing Jaffna
- Green Grass Hotel
- Tilco Jaffna City Hotel
what to expect in jaffna
Expect a city where 99% of the people are friendly, smiles back at you, but hardly makes a conversation and has a bit of problems understanding when you talk in Sinhala or English. But, don’t worry, you can always use the hand-signs and put up a word or two in English and they will understand you.
I wanted to ask a person whether the tunnels leading to the Jaffna Fort were safe. So I tried English – NOPE! Doesn’t work. So I pointed at the tunnel, made a barking sound and this person understood me and told me that there are none.
what are the best foods at jaffna?
Try the Lagoon Prawns! Well, that’s me being biased because I love prawns. However, the curries and the food are very spicy. They use a very hot chilli and the food are really good. There are lots of good restaurants but just keep in mind that most of these places are vegetarian. Tamils are vegetarians and they hardly sell food with meat. Jetwing Jaffna hotel is makes this exception and I tasted really good Prawns Soup, Chicken starters, Mutton (goat meat) and also the Crabs!
what are the best places to visit in jaffna?
Ok, now this is a tricky question. This will actually make huge lists on other websites because they list all locations. However, let’s focus on some of the places you can visit within a very short period of time such as 01 day? Let’s see it:
- Jaffna Public Library
Just a little walk from the Jaffna town, a 10 minutes walk to be exact, you can find the Public Library in Jaffna. This is an important landmark because by the 1980’s, the then-government and political goons burnt this place destroying the Then-Asia’s largest library that housed for more than 97000 books and articles. Now it’s rebuilt but the loss that occurred is still to be recovered.
- Nagadeepa Temple
In Sri Lankan history, it is said that the Lord Buddha visited Sri Lanka 3 times. It’s believed that Lord Buddha came to Nagadeepa to resolve a fight between the two brothers who wanted to become King.
The drive to the jetty is about 1 1/2 hrs on the perfectly fine road and the boat ride is almost 20 minutes. It’s only LKR 30.00 per person and make sure you get the safety jacket on. You get to see the model Footprint of Lord Buddha and also a miniature replica of the Gem-embedded seat the brothers were fighting for as well.
- Nainativu Nagapooshani Amman Temple
This Kovil is dedicated to Parvati, the Hindu goddess for love, fertility and devotion. Upon entrance, you are requested to take off any shoes, slippers and also keep in mind that any Male should take off the T-shirt / Shirt as he should be bare-chested to enter the Kovil. Also, no photography is allowed inside.
Walk about 500m from Nagadeepa and you can reach the Nainativu Nagapooshani Amman Temple. Traveling back to the mainland is by the same boats you come to Nagadeepa.
- Chatty Beach
One of the most popular beaches in the Jaffna peninsula, Chatty beach is one of the best locations to have a swim, hire a Tube and stay on the sea for hours. The water is clean and clear that you can see the fish swimming between your legs as you walk. There are some fishing boats in the distance. You can walk up to at least 20m into the sea without any problem because this beach resembles the same structure as Pasikudah. Tube hire is LKR 100 per tube. You can buy beach shorts from the shop close-by at LKR 300.
- Kadurugoda Temple, Chunnakam
This is one of the most important places in Jaffna as this place is believed where Lord Buddha rested upon his visit to see the Chulodara and Mahodara brothers over their dispute. With history running back to the Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa eras, it’s believed that Kassapa IV even sent donations to this temple. With Stupas that are ancient, beautiful and well designed, you will instantly fall in love with the place. The place is now maintained by the Sri Lanka Army and the Archeological Dept.
- Jaffna Town Market
At the center of the Jaffna Town, you can see the market. Jaffna is famous for the Palmyrah products such as Jaggery, Toddy as well as the Arrack. You get to find lots of Sweets and Cane products here in this market arena.
- Nallur Kandaswamy Kovil
Images above were taken with caution. It was prohibited.
A Kovil devoted to Lord Murugan, the god of War and son of god Shiva and goddess Parvathi, stands out when it comes to kovils in Jaffna. It is one of the largest kovils in Jaffna and one of the most visited too. With gold-plated pillars all inside, puja’s are held at scheduled times. No photography is allowed inside the kovil and all men should take off shirts while all entering the kovil must be bare-foot.
- Lingan Ice Cream shop
Lingan Ice Cream shop is one of the oldest ice cream outlets in Jaffna. This place is right next to the Nallur Kovil and provides with a large variety of ice creams. Try the Mixed Ice cream, it has 5 flavors, fruits and wafers.
- Jaffna Fort
Built by the Portuguese during their reign in Ceylon, this is the second largest fort in Sri Lanka. After the Dutch and British conquerors, the fort was still preserved until the LTTE period. However, with the Sri Lanka Army operation, Riviresa this was released and now visitors can go see the Jaffna fort.
what to wear in jaffna?
The culture is very different when it comes to Jaffna. Though the heat is really high here, people tend to cover the whole body. So, mind wearing something soft but that covers at least upto knee length. Better wear a cap and some sun-cream when going out.
Finally, I gotta say that Jaffna is worth the visit. At least spend 02 nights in Jaffna because there’s a lot to see and the areas are still unspoilt. You can see the actual lifestyles of the Tamil people, their beliefs and take photos with people, places. Be mindful and patient with the people as they hardly speak Sinhala or English. Make sure you don’t take any photographs inside the kovils and men go shirtless.
Go see Jaffna and share your experiences as well. I already started the #ILoveJaffna on instagram and maybe you can join it too 🙂 Happy Traveling !