Jaffna Or Yazhpanam map

Jaffna Or Yazhpanam: A Must-Visit City In Sri Lanka

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Jaffna, or Yazhpanam, is a city in the Northern province of Sri Lanka. The place has a vibrant culture and offers several activities for tourists and explorers. Although most people do not cover Jaffna during their trip to Sri Lanka, I set aside 2 days for the place. I fell in love with its people, ethos, and atmosphere so hard that I extended for a couple more days.

An intriguing fact about the city is that most of the population here are Tamil Sri Lankans. In this blog, I’ll take you through more intriguing facets of the city and the places you can visit during your trip.

Jaffna Or Yazhpanam City Guide, Sri Lanka

Best Time To Visit Jaffna

Jaffna is hot throughout the year except in December and January. Hence two months would be the best time to visit. Although it is hot, people visit Jaffna throughout the year.

Network Availability

Very good signal strength is provided by both Dialog and Mobitel.

Where To Stay?

According to most user reviews, hostels in the city are not that great. So I stayed in Nallur Holidays Inn ($). I had an incredible experience, and the credit goes to their excellent hospitality. If you’re looking for something on the higher end or other options, here are a few recommendations:

 

Where To Eat?

Jaffna is popular for its variety of food. Unlike the rest of Sri Lanka, you’ll find less maida-based bread and more wheat and rice-based dishes here. Numerous restaurants provide different cuisines, including Indian, Chinese, Sri Lankan, and more. So if you’re a foodie spoilt for choices, the city will not disappoint you.

Languages Spoken

Most people in Jaffna speak Sri Lankan Tamil. Few people converse in English and Sinhalese.

Top 7 Places To Visit In Jaffna

1. Dutch Fort In Jaffna

Dutch fort in Jaffna

The Dutch fort, or the Jaffna Fort, was built in 1618 by the Portuguese. The Vaubanesque Star-like structure was conquered and expanded by the Dutch in 1658. Over a century later, in 1795, the British sieged the fort and established their foothold until Sri Lanka gained independence. The place is considered the best Dutch fort in Asia.

The fort complex includes a museum, the Governor’s Residence (King’s House), the Queen’s House, Kruys Church, the Garrison Parade Ground, Police quarters, and several buildings from the Portuguese era. These are maintained well and lend themselves to tourists’ exploration.

  • Timings: 7 AM – 6 PM
  • Entry Fee: LKR 20 for Sri Lankans, USD 4 for Foreigners, 50% discount for SAARC nationals.
  • Parking: Available

2. Pannai Park

Pannai Park, Sri Lanka

Just beside the Jaffna Fort resides Pannai Park. Take a stroll on the stone-laid walking path and relax at the sit-outs overlooking the lagoon nearby. There is a play area for the kids in the park. You can find many locals here during the early mornings and late evenings.

  • Timings: 5 AM – 10 PM
  • Entry fee: Free

3. Jaffna Public Library

Jaffna public library

The Jaffna Public Library is abundant with knowledge. The architectural design symbolizes the concept of knowledge. For instance, just before you enter the library, you’ll see a Saraswati statue. It’s almost as if the Goddess of Knowledge (In Hinduism) welcomes you. 

The world-renowned library was home to a collection of 97000 volumes of books including the only surviving copies of Yalpanam Vaipavam – History of Jaffna, the original Neo-Mughal Design, and more. Unfortunately, in 1981, a fire accident destroyed the entire place, and the entire collection burnt with it. Due to this, the library had to be rebuilt, and today it stands tall with books from various contributors worldwide.

  • Visiting Hours: 4:30 PM – 6:30 PM from Monday- Friday
  • Entry fee: Free

4. Jaffna Archaeological Museum

Jaffna Archaeological Museum

A treasure trove of artifacts, the Jaffna Archaeological Museum documents the region’s history through numerous relics. These include a whale skeleton, dutch cannons, ornaments, old coins, utensils, statues, weapons, a large portrait of Queen Victoria, and 15th-century Buddha torsos, to name a few. 

One of the most fascinating things is a 14th-century 7-mouthed clay pot. The pot is designed so that when it’s filled with water, the vessel becomes a musical instrument played by rhythmically tapping the seven openings with one’s palms. If you love history and exploring new/old cultures, the museum is the place for you.

  • Timings: 9 AM – 4 PM
  • Entry Fee: Free
  • Photography is not allowed inside.

5. Nallur Kandaswamy Temple

Nallur Kandaswamy Temple, Jaffna
Nallur Kandaswamy Temple, Jaffna

One of the main landmarks in the region, the Nallur Kandaswamy Temple, stands in all its glory in the heart of the city. The sacred place of worship is dedicated to the Hindu God Murugan and comprises numerous shrines, decorated corridors, temple towers, and more. You will find four entry gates, each accompanied by a temple tower. A new temple tower called “Gubera Rajagopuram” and its corresponding entrance named “Gubera Vaasal” were built recently.

The original Kandaswamy temple was found in 948 AD. After several iterations of destruction and relocation by Portuguese and British colonialists, the present temple was constructed in 1934 AD.

  • Timings: 4:15 AM – 5:15 AM; 7:30 AM – 12 PM; 3 PM – 6 PM on all days
  • Entry Fee: Free
  • Parking: Available
  • Restroom: Available

6. Keerimalai Spring

Keerimalai Spring Jaffna

Keerimalai Spring is a site of historical and religious significance. Near the spring resides an ancient Hindu temple, Naguleswaram Kovil, dedicated to Lord Shiva. Although the temple is said to have existed since the 6th century, it supposedly became popular in the 7th century.

During the latter period, it was believed that the Chola Kingdom princess possessed the face of a keeri (Mongoose). When she bathed in the spring, she transformed into her human form. Since then, it is believed that the springs have healing properties. However, researchers have found that the mineral content in the spring is high. The spring resembles a water pool set against the sea. 

Note: It is customary for men to remove their shirts before entering the temple.

  • Entry Fee: Free
  • Timings: 5 AM – 12 PM; 3 PM – 6 PM on all days
  • Changing rooms: Available
  • Parking Space: Available.
  • Bikinis and beach wear are not allowed while bathing in the spring waters as it is considered a place of worship.

7. Islands Of Jaffna

Delft beach

Jaffna is home to eight islands. While 7 of these are inhabited by people, 1 (Kachchatheevu Island) is not. You can access these islands via ferry services. We visited Nainativu, Neduntivu or Delft Island, and the Hemmenhiel Fort at Karainagar. Besides these, we passed through Kayts and Punkudutivu islands during the journey. Below is the list of 8 islands. Check them out for more details. 

  1. Punkudutivu
  2. Nainativu – the most popular island
  3. Analaitivu
  4. Eluvaitivu
  5. Karainagar
  6. Kayts
  7. Mandaitivu
  8. Neduntivu or Delft Island

We hope this guide helped you plan your trip to Jaffna. If we missed any place you feel is worth mentioning and recommending to others, comment below.

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