Attractions

Hindu Site in Jaffna

Nallur Kandaswamy Kovil

This huge Hindu temple, crowned by a towering god-encrusted, golden-ochre gopuram, is one of the most significant Hindu religious complexes in Sri Lanka. Its sacred deity is Murugan (or Skanda), and at cacophonic pu…
Church in Mannar Island & Around

Our Lady of Madhu Church

This church is Sri Lanka’s most hallowed Christian monument (though it's thought to be have been constructed over an ancient Hindu shrine). Its walls shelter Our Lady of Madhu, a diminutive but revered Madonna-and-c…
Fort in Jaffna

Jaffna Fort

Overlooking the Jaffna lagoon, sections of this vast complex (once one of the greatest Dutch forts in Asia) have been recently restored, though it remains largely in ruins. It was built in 1680 over an earlier Portu…
Historic Site in The North Coast and Keerimalai Spring

Keerimalai Spring

This spring is a beautiful little spot: the men’s side has a picturesque stepped pool of bright aquamarine water set against the sea, while the women have a smaller pool nearby surrounded by tall walls (for the best…
Fort in Mannar Island & Around

Star Fortress

An imposing Portuguese-Dutch construction, this star-shaped fortress is situated right by the causeway to the island and ringed by a moat. It's desperately in need of renovation, but the ruins are atmospheric and co…
Buddhist Site in Jaffna

Houses of Worship

Jaffna’s countless other Hindu temples, easily identified by their red-and-white-striped walls, range from tiny shrines to sprawling complexes featuring mandapaya (raised platforms with decorated pillars), ornate po…
Library in Jaffna

Jaffna Public Library

Tellingly, one of the first major buildings to be rebuilt after the 2002 ceasefire was Jaffna's Public Library. The earlier library was burnt down by pro-government mobs (some say forces) in July 1981, a destruction…
Ruins in Jaffna

War Ruins

Jaffna is slowly rebuilding and repairing the damage left from the war. But east of the fort was Jaffna’s former government district, and some ruined structures, like the former kachcheri (administrative office), re…
Hindu Site in Mannar Island & Around

Thirukketeeswaram Kovil

On the mainland, 13km east of Mannar Town, Thirukketeeswaram Kovil is one of the pancha ishwaram, the five historical Sri Lankan Shiva temples established to protect the island from natural disaster. It’s an imposin…
Ruins in Jaffna

Royal Palace

Nallur was the capital of the Jaffna Kingdom for 400 years, and a few weathered structures remain. They’re worth the excursion if you have a good imagination. Yamuna Eri, a U-shape pool made of carved stones, is neg…