2020 Sep 1
From a war zone to an ultimate tourist destination, Jaffna should definitely be on every traveller’s bucket list. Mainly known for its rich cultural heritage, historical sites, incredible food and its exotic islands, Jaffna has transformed from the island’s most isolated city to a small utopia. Here are the top 10 must-visit places in Jaffna!
Point Pedro Lighthouse
The name Point Pedro originates from Portuguese “Ponta das Pedras” meaning “the rocky cape”. The locals refer to Point Pedro as Paruthithurai, which means “cotton harbour” and the story behind the name is that for centuries Point Pedro exported cotton to south India. Point Pedro lighthouse is approximately 35 KM from Jaffna town. The height of the lighthouse is 32 meters with a cylindrical shape. It was built in 1916. Unfortunately, you cannot visit the lighthouse up close as it is now overshadowed by the Sri Lanka Navy camp. But you can most certainly view it from a distance and still appreciate it in all its glory! A definite must-visit if you’re ever in Jaffna.
Delft Island also known as Neduntheevu is an Island located in the northern part of Sri Lanka. The only way to reach is by a boat at Kurikadduwan harbour.
The main attractions on the island will take approximately 4 hours and it would cost you roughly LKR 1500 -2000 for a tour by a tuk-tuk. Although slightly pricey, believe me when I say it’ll be worth it. There’s a lot to explore on this island alone!
- Delft Island Baobab Tree– this tree was planted in the 16th century and has the most nutrient-dense fruit in the world. The speciality of this tree is the spit trunk that developed into a cave.
- Dutch Hospital – The hospital was designed for medical purposes during the Dutch period and was converted into an administrative centre during the British period.
- Dutch Horse Stables – Delft island is known for wild horses. At least around 500 wild horses can be spotted along the beach and throughout the island.
- Hanuman’s Footprint – According to Hinduism, the king of monkeys and devoted servant of Rama, Hanuman’s giant human-like front print is embedded in a rock.
Manalkadu is a village located on the northeastern shore of the Jaffna Peninsula. When translated into English, Manalkadu means “sand bush”. Why was this name given, you ask? because due to dust storms caused over a 100 years, a Dutch church was buried under the sand. The church was said to have been built in the 17th century during the Dutch invasion. The beauty of the church boasts of walls that were built with coral stones collected from the beach shore.
Manalkadu Beach and Sand Dunes
For that Dubai sand dunes vibe – Manalkadu is your place. Approximately 300 metres from the sand dunes, you’ll find a crystal clear beach that is worth visiting but the locals warn you to be careful. On your way back to Jaffna, you can see the sweet sight of a small Christ the Redeemer statue in a church.
Kathurugoda Ancient Vihara
Kandarodai is a small hamlet and archaeological site of Chunnakam town, a suburb in Jaffna. This archaeological site stands testament to the fact that these areas had been with ancient human settlements from the beginning of the protohistoric period. Ancient harbours around the Jaffna Peninsula such as Jambukolapattna (Kankesanturai), Kayts (Sukaratitha or Uratota) and Mantai (Manyottam) boasts of the trade and cultural links we had with countries such as China, India and Italy.
Damaging, theft of antiques and unauthorised excavating is strictly prohibited.
Nilavarai well is an old underground water well and has been identified as an archaeological monument in Jaffna. The well is said to be bottomless. A recent discovery by the Sri Lankan Navy using an automated robot found the bottom of this mysterious well at a depth of 53 meters. They also discovered that the first 18 metres of the well contains freshwater while the water after this point is deemed to be salty as it runs down.
Chankanai dutch church
Chanakanai was built in 1641 during the Portuguese period and was called the church of Holy Trinity. The beauty of the church screams out so many historical facts; one of them being that the walls of the church is built of coral stone.
Chanakanai church was declared a protected archaeological monument on 23 February 2007.
Thanankilappu Wind Power Plants
This is one of the numerous projects found up north, 16 kilometres away from Jaffna town. It is hard to miss and a definite place to visit because right opposite the power plant, you will see the Indian Ocean that is almost like a lake due to its low tide. During sunset hours it’s absolutely breathtaking, and you can see fisherman along the coastal line. If you ever dreamt of visiting a windmill up close, then Thanakilappu is the place to be.
The Damakola Patuna which is also referred to as Jambukola Patuna is a notable Buddhist destination. It is an ancient port which was utilised during the pre-Christian time. This site was limited for tourist activities previously but now can be accessed without any hassle. It is situated on the tip of an island in the Jaffna District and can be located pretty easily since it is positioned along the coast.
The legend identified to this temple is that Sanghamitta came here with a Bo sapling. And King Devanampiyathissa appeared at the desired location to greet the guests. The Damakola Patuna was constructed to commemorate this event.
A large portion of the initial structure of this spot has been lost because of the civil war and only a certain portion of it remains. The current figures, paintings, and stupas were recently constructed.
KKS Sink Ship
Myliddy is a small town in the northern area of Sri Lanka. It is known to be a typical fishing village and is situated at the mid-some portion of the Jaffna Peninsula’s northern coast. The town has been under the high-security zone since 1990 because of its nearness to the Jaffna Airport and the Palali Military Base.
The old ship at the Myliddy harbour in Kankasanthurai is an unknown place in the peninsula. The ship, owned by a Sri Lankan businessman had been abandoned due to a technical fault. Nonetheless, it had transported cement between India and Sri Lanka beforehand.
Jaffna is often overlooked as a city but as you explore further you’d find yourself trying to make sense of why this beautiful part of the island is so underrated. Everything Jaffna has to offer – from the people to the culture and food – is nothing but an exhilarating experience!
Thumbnail image by Shalinda Rodrigo.