Sri Lanka is a land of many wonders – what with coastal lines and hilltops being mere hours away from one another – and a populace with a more than healthy appetite for travel. From Galle to Ella to Arugam Bay, us Lankans have a case of insatiable wanderlust, but one thing stands out during our constant “where to next” sessions – avoiding the dark lands.
The Northern part of our country is just “too far” or just “too warm” or has “too little Instagram-ops” for us to take the effort to make the journey out there but reality check – you’re missing out on a lot! Jaffna is scenic and serene and very affordable on the pocket so it’s time to stop being lazy and get to planning that long overdue road trip – here’s why!
1. The journey gives you great time to bond with your travel buddies
The travel time to Jaffna can range anywhere between 9 – 11 hours depending on whether you take the train, bus or decide to drive, and it could be a long and tedious journey, so you might want to choose travel companions who you can tolerate for long periods of time in confined spaces but hey, where’s the fun in that! You can spend your time catching up on the latest gossip, playing games (like Heads Up or UNO and destroy your friendship before the holiday begins), sleeping and taking embarrassing pictures of each other for later use! The journey maybe tiring but that doesn’t mean it can’t be hella fun and a great bonding session!
2. Jaffna is full of war memorials and great stories
The Northern part of our country has seen many a dark day and there are no lack of tributes to fallen heroes, as should be. Especially on the way to Jaffna, you can witness history shaping homages such as the Gamini Kularatne Memorial that stands humble but memorable close to Elephant Pass or the breathtaking Kilinochchi Water Tank that towers above nearby buildings even at its fall. The monuments are rich in history and have played quite the part in shaping this nation so you know it’s something you simply can’t miss!
3. It’s (so very) far away from your city toils
Taking a road trip to far off Jaffna is something you can definitely look forward to because its vast expanses and serene lands take you to a place that’s so far away from an office cubicle that you find yourself bewildered by the wonder of it all. It’s got so many beautiful beaches, amazing architecture and eateries for days that you will soon forget about your city troubles and be lost in culture, history and tradition.
Plus, you can totally give your Instagram some amazing, picturesque photos!
4. The history takes you back in time like a time capsule of sorts
Regardless of the war, much like any historically rich city in Sri Lanka, the architecture of Jaffna has (for the most part) been preserved as best it could be and still manages to teleport you back in time. With notable landmarks such as the Jaffna Public Library and the Jaffna Fort slowly being brought back to its former glory, one doesn’t have to look too far to bear witness to the breathtaking early days of Ceylon and the Portuguese and Dutch rule during that time.
5. You can see both the sunrise and sunset in one beautiful location
Can’t decide whether you prefer sunrises or sunsets? Well that’s not a worry up in Jaffna because you can bear witness to both without budging an inch! Watching the sun rise and set over Palmyra trees has got to be one of the most satisfying things one could do and definitely isn’t something to miss. We hear Elephant Pass is the most ideal location to witness both, what with the vast expanses of water to either side, so if you’ve had the privilege of watching the sun from this point, do let us know!
6. Elephant Pass is breathtaking
Elephant Pass is one of the most historic places in Sri Lanka with countless battles fought over its soils and many novels written commemorating its long and bloody days, but its gory history takes nothing away from how calming it is nowadays. In what can only be described as a land bridge, with water stretching out on either side as far as the eye can see, Elephant Pass is one of the most peaceful places to spend a contemplative evening, appreciating how far this country has come. The railway station at Elephant Pass is also really something and was only reopened as recently as 2014 for regular use, after the war.
7. The statue at the Maruthanar Madam Anjanajar Temple will leave you in awe
If any of you are a fan of the legend of Rama and Seetha, the Maruthanar Madam Anjanajar Temple is definitely a must-see. Taking huge interest in The Ramayana myself, this 72 feet high statue of Hanuman was simply astounding to see. Established in early 2013, the temple is dedicated to Lord Aanjaneyar (Hanuman) and his efforts in aiding Rama, and hosts routine poojas in the morning, noon and evening daily. The monument is more than memorable.
The best times to travel to Jaffna are said to be January and February but October and November aren’t so terrible either. For the next couple months, though there is expected rainfall in the mornings, the rest of the day seems sunny and gives you tons of time for exploration. So start planning your trip to the North people!
So there you have it guys, history, culture, and a trip you do not want to miss – let’s get planning!
Travel Tip: Travel through the night so that you have less incentive to stop every 5 minutes to go to the bathroom, get something to eat or buy something on the way. On one occasion I traveled during the day with my extended family; long story short, all the uncles and aunties wanted to stop and buy mangoes and toffees and take pictures of moneys, so the journey was about 17 hours for us. No joke.