A Jaunt To Jaffna - Cosmopolitan Sri Lanka

A Jaunt To Jaffna

At the Northern-most tip of the island lies the charming ancient city of Jaffna, dowsed in history and culture unlike any other part of the Serendib. If you haven’t made plans yet for the long Vesak weekend just around the corner, we’re glad to be your guide through a journey along the gorgeous Northern Peninsula!

Jaffna

Yaalpanam along with its nearby mini-cluster of islands was home to one of the earliest civilizations to settle down in Sri Lanka, hailing from South India. This ancestral connection and proximity to South India has left Jaffna with many similarities to its offshore neighbour in terms of attire, language, food, belief systems and culture. However, over time, the city has been contested for by foreign occupants from the Portuguese to the Dutch to the British, each leaving behind a memento of sorts in the form of architecture, religion and even legal systems. Add the delicious local cuisine to this mix and you’ve got yourself a tantalizing journey to the past!

Getting There

1. Train: the Yal Devi Express should get you to Jaffna from Fort in 9 hours
2. Bus: the Superline Luxury Bus from Wellawatte to Jaffna shouldn’t take you more than 9 hours
3. Car: approximately an 8 hour drive

Preppin’ & Packin’

The scorching sun in Jaffna is merciless so if you’re not looking to tan it’s highly recommended that you go well-prepped: cap, water bottle, sunglasses, wet wipes, deodorant, sun block and whatever else you think helps you deal with the heat. As much as the weather really requires light clothing, the cultural environment doesn’t quite permit it, especially with the many temples you’ll be visiting. As an alternative, consider sticking to lighter fabrics like loose linen and cotton. Sandals may be a better choice than sneakers as you’ll find yourself taking your shoes off a lot to enter temples and religious sites.

Accommodation

If you’re worried about decent accommodation, there are now two Jetwing Hotels right in the heart of the city, but if all you’re really looking for is a clean place to rest after a long day’s worth of exploring a simpler city hotel like The Valampuri is just a nifty little buggy ride away from the train station. Another suitable option that’s a little farther away from Jaffna town would be Thalsevana, an Army-maintained beachfront resort with its own pool, situated in Kankesanthurai. However, if privacy is your most important concern, Margosa Bongo Stay is a lovely converted villa large enough to house around 10 people.

Out And About

Despite the rapid development, the roads of Jaffna are still lined with beautiful crumbling mansions with just shards of glass left for window panes. It’s no doubt that the city’s been through a lot, from colonial invasions to a 30-year-long Civil War, which has halted progress for quite a while but business is growing with an increasing number of tourists and investors realizing the city’s untapped potential.

Here’s a quick list of places you’ll definitely want to check out on your Jaffna vacay:

Nallur Kovil
Nagadeepa Temple
Sangamitta Temple
Jaffna Fort
Nilavarai Well
Keerimalai Natural Mineral Water Springs
Fort Hammenheil
Casuarina Beach
Point Pedro
Delft Island

Grab yourself a copy of our April issue to get a detailed low-down on how to get there, where to stay, visit and grab a good ol’ Jaffna-style bite!

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