Jaffna’s Islands attractions

Buddhist Site in Nainativu (Nagadipa)

Nagadipa Temple

This is the North’s only major Buddhist pilgrimage site. According to legend, the Buddha came to the island to prevent war between a naga king and his nephew over ownership of a gem-studded throne. The solution: giv…
Hindu Site in Nainativu (Nagadipa)

Naga Pooshani Amman Kovil

This lovely complex is an airy Hindu temple set amid mature neem trees. The main temple deity is the naga goddess Meenakshi, a consort of Shiva. (The term naga refers variously to serpent deity figures and to the an…
Historic Site in Karaitivu

Fort Hammenhiel

A tiny islet in the bay is home to the pocket-sized Fort Hammenhiel, a small Portuguese-built bastion that passed on to the Dutch in the 1650s. The thick coral walls are over 4m high. Access to the fort is very diff…
Memorial in Velanai

War Memorial

About 2km north of the AB19 along a dirt track is a sombre memorial to Lieutenant General Denzil Lakshman Kobbekaduwa and others. In 1992, the LTTE set off a bomb that killed the general and much of the rest of the …
Beach in Karaitivu

Casuarina Beach

An attractive stretch of sand with good swimming and, as the name indicates, a shoreline backed by mature casuarina trees. It's popular with folks from Jaffna on weekends and has a couple of food vendors for a bite …
Village in Velanai


Kayts is a moody little village with a few scuttled fishing boats down by the ferry dock and some big old bayan trees. This was the port from which elephants were shipped to India, and you can still see traces of it…
Church in Velanai

St Anthony's Church

Built in 1820, this large colonnaded church is dishevelled, but the faithful have strung colourful garlands from the soaring rafters. Immediately west, ponder the ruins of St Anthony's Villa, which still has some be…
Hindu Site in Karaitivu

Varatharaja Perumal Kovil

This temple is 1.1km north of the start of the Karaitivu causeway on the mainland. It's visible on the right as you start your crossing. There's a towering gopuram done up in polychromatic glory.
Beach in Velanai

Chaatty Beach

Chaatty Beach is no white-sand wonder, but it’s passable for swimming and has changing rooms, picnic gazebos and snack vendors. It's just 11km from Jaffna.
Hindu in Jaffna’s Islands

Ayanar Kovil

The main temple on the island of Analaitivu.