Experiences in Jaffna

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In recent years, since the end of the 30-year civil war, Jaffna has risen like a phoenix from the ashes and is now the up-and-coming, must-visit place in Sri Lanka. This enigmatic and enthralling city has a culture that is strikingly different to that of the rest of the island, influenced heavily by South Indian traditions, which has led to Jaffna developing a unique microcosmic culture that is fascinating to compare to other parts of Sri Lanka. The Jaffna Crab Curry, similar to southern Indian cuisine in its use of spices, is renowned throughout the island. Travelers will delight in Jaffna’s authenticity, as yet unmarked by the tourist trail, and the myriad of intriguing, historic cultural sites it boasts.

It is well worth exploring the town: roam through the lively streets, passing local markets and small shops, and visit highlights such as the white-washed Jaffna Library, 18th century St. Mary’s Cathedral and the spectacular Nallur Kovil. Look out for the old Austen and Morris Minor cars which occasionally drive through the town centre. The white-washed Jaffna library, originally built in 1841, is an impressive structure that was recently restored, having been raised to the ground during the civil war – there are often interesting exhibitions hosted on the top floor. From here it’s only a short walk to the Dutch Fort, which was built in 1680: walk around the ramparts, and enjoy the spectacular views on the lagoon-facing side – a causeway stretches across the glassy water to the island beyond.

If you have longer than a day in Jaffna, you should take a short boat trip out to Delft Island, famous for the wild horses which were left here by the Portuguese, and Nainativu Island which is home to a sacred Buddhist site. If you are interested in exploring Sri Lanka’s undiscovered northern coastline in more depth, consider our 7-day sailing adventure which covers the coastal stretch from Mannar to Jaffna (and the islands in between).

Hosted Experiences

Take home the secrets of Jaffna Crab Curry, a dish which is revered throughout the island. The chef at a local boutique hotel will teach the class.

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Hop on a boat to Delft Island for a day of discovery with your host. Take in the old Delft Fort, an ancient Baobab tree and the wild ponies here.

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Spend a week sailing along Sri Lanka’s northern coastline in a custom-built catamaran. Enjoy snorkelling, fishing and paddle-boarding.

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Individual Experiences

The Nallur Kandaswamy Kovil dates back to 1734 and is one of Sri Lanka’s most significant Hindu temples.

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