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Updated by Joanna James on Jun 23, 2019
Joanna James Joanna James
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Places to Visit in Jaffna – Northern City of Tamil Culture

Jaffna is situated on the northern most tip of Sri Lanka. Closest to India the peninsula has a Tamil culture unique to the rest of the island and is a beautiful city to experience.


The Jaffna Library

One of Jaffna's most iconic attractions the Jaffna Library was, without doubt, one of the best in Asia. It was burned down by extremist factions during the age long civil war that rocked the country. It has now been restored to its former glory and stands sentinel within the city. A definite must visit not just for literature buffs but also for culture enthusiasts.


Jaffna Fort

Sri Lanka's second largest fort the Jaffna Fort is located on the southern edge of the peninsula. It is close to the lagoon and was built by the Portuguese colonists in 1619. The Dutch later expanded and rebuilt the place around the 17th and 18th centuries in order to facilitate the trading industry around the northern edge of the island. Today visiting the fort is one of the most popular things to do in Jaffna; although only limited access is offered to the public since the fort is now occupied by the military. Choosing to visit with a guide is your best option.


Nallur Temple

The most iconic Hindu Kovil on the peninsula Nallur Kandasamy Temple is just 1km from the city centre and 7 minutes for guests at Jetwing Jaffna. The place festooned with a golden arch and elegant gopuram draws hundreds of pilgrims annually. This temple dates back to the 18th century; although the original temple which was built in the time of Jaffna's kings was destroyed in 1620 and replaced by St James Church; during the Portuguese occupation of the island. The city's most prominent religious festival is held here for a period of 26 days. Do remember to try the famously delicious ice creams at Lingams Cool bar located close to the temple.


Sangilean Thoopu

Sangilean Thoopu is believed to be the remnants of Tamil King Sangiliyan's Palace. The arch that is referred to as Sangilean Thoopu is all that remains of the palace torn down by the Portuguese once the kingdom fell. It is however also believed to be the remnants of a Dutch building that has fallen to ruin; either way the attraction located about 2.7kms from the bus stand is a good site to explore.



This is an offshore island that is located about 2 to 3 hours from the mainland. There are easy boat rides to the island which overall are quite thrilling tours. Boats, however, are not always available and it is wise to pre-check before making plans to visit Nainatheevu.


Casuarina Beach

One of Jaffna's most beautiful and safest beaches Casuarina has shallow waters for swimming and enjoying the warm Indian Ocean. The beach located about 15 minutes from Jaffna town is ideal for a day's excursion from the comforts of your Jaffna hotel.

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