Jaffna is the northernmost city on the island of Sri Lanka.
Home to the majority of the Tamil population, this area is still largely unmodified and is recovering after the civil war that raged for nearly 30 years.
Jaffna is full of beautifully ornamented Kovil (Hindu temples) and ancient Buddhist temples.
The destruction of the war is still evident, but visitors will see how the community is recovering and rebuilding itself, without losing its Tamil identity.
Read on to find the best things to see and do in Jaffna.
Nallur Kandaswamy Kovil
The Nallur Kandaswamy Kovil is the most important Hindu temple of Jaffna.
Located in the city of Nallur, the current building is the fourth construction of the temple, which was originally built in 948 AD.
If foreigners wish to visit the temple, they are expected to follow the guidelines of modesty and that women cover their shoulders and legs.
Wearing white is recommended but not mandatory.
Shoes should not be worn inside the temple and it is better to be respectful.
The temple can be visited alone or with a guide.
The hours of Puja (adoration) are from 5:00 to 10:00
16:30, 17:00 and 18.45
Kadurugoda temple in Kandarodai
There are also some ancient Buddhist temples left in Jaffna, despite its Hindu majority.
One of the most famous is the Kadurugoda temple in the Jadna Kadarodai region.
This temple is believed to date back to the Anuradhapura era.
The complex has around 20 visible stupas that do not resemble other stupas in Sri Lanka.
The Kadurugoda Raja Maha Vihara site has been declared an archaeological site and is managed by the Sri Lankan army.
Nainativu Kovil is the main Hindu temple on the island of Nainativu.
A must to visit if you arrive on the island. This temple has about six puja rituals per day and is home to numerous festivals every year.
The temple receives around 500 visitors and pilgrims per day and over 100,000 during the holidays.
Just like all kovils and temples, foreign visitors should follow the usual dressing rules and be respectful of worshipers and brahmins.
The Fort of Jaffna
Jaffna Fort, the second largest Dutch fort built in Sri Lanka, is an archaeological monument that has suffered a direct assault due to the recent 30 years of armed conflict.
Although part of its coastal bastion had been destroyed due to a continuing offensive by the LTTE, the fort taken as a whole has not suffered serious destruction.
An external moat exists outside the ramparts.
Outside the moat there is the external bastion which has incorporated five tunnels each in a twin formation.
Although the tunnels are in good condition, they are currently without doors.
However, they show signs of having had doors in the past.
The monuments inside the fort had been destroyed during the conflict that raged in the area.
Of these, the monument called Queen’s Palace is in a sufficient level of conservation compared to the rest, as it could be identified.
Its superstructure is completely destroyed and the remaining walls are in the process of being destroyed due to the presence of invasive plants that have taken root in them.
The short parapet wall built in the style of Dutch architecture in front of this building was largely spared from destruction.
Behind the building there is an access to the bastion with a decorated trellis balustrade.
This access may have been used by the Dutch to transport weapons to the bastion.
There is evidence to show that a veranda with two ponds of the Dutch architectural style had existed in front of the Queen’s palace.
The Dutch church located inside the fort had been bombed and completely destroyed.
Since this structure had been documented, its ancient layout could be identified.
Its wide walls had been built in limestone.