Best places to visit In Jaffna
Jaffna Archaeological Museum
This unkempt but interesting museum is hidden away at the end of a messy garden behind a concrete events hall. Asking locals for directions may elicit odd responses; the museum is a bit under the radar. At the door are a rusty pair of Dutch cannons from the fort and a set of whale bones. Inside, the most interesting items are some 15th-century Buddha torsos found at Kantarodai and a 14th-century
‘seven-mouthed pot’ – a clay pot that makes music when it’s filled with water and its seven openings tapped with the palm of the hand.
Jaffna’s fort is perhaps the best Dutch fort in Asia, and it’s currently undergoing a massive restoration, funded mostly by the Dutch government, that will make it even more impressive. It was built in 1680 over an earlier Portuguese original, and defensive triangles
were added in 1792 to produce the classic Vaubanesque star form. But, while on a map the polygonal Dutch fort is a powerful presence, in reality its walls are currently hidden beneath overgrown slopes.
During the war, government forces used it as an encampment, and in 1990 the LTTE – at the time in control of the rest of Jaffna – forced out government troops after a grisly 107-day siege. Much of the fort was destroyed. At research time, you could wander around the ruins and watch the progress of the rebuilding.
Nallur Kandaswamy Kovil
Approximately 1.5km northeast of the centre, the Nallur Kandaswamy Kovil is the most impressive religious building in Jaffna and one of the most signifi cant Hindu temple complexes in Sri Lanka. Its sacred deity is Murugan , and at cacophonic puja – at 5am, 10am, noon, 4.15pm (small puja), 4.30pm (‘special’ puja), 5pm and 6.45pm – off erings are made to his brassframed image and other Hindu deities like Ganesh, Murugan’s elephant-headed brother, in shrines surrounding the inner sanctum. You can also say a prayer at the sacred tree in the temple’s southern courtyard anytime Get a piece of gold-threaded cloth from outside the temple, wrap some coins in it, and tie it to the tree along with a prayer. Afterwards, ring the big brass bell.
The kovil’s current structure dates from 1734 , and its large and airy space shelters decorative brasswork, larger-than-life murals, pillared halls and a colonnaded, stepped holy pool, all dominated by the god-encrusted, goldenochre gopuram peering down one length of Point Pedro Rd. Several friendly priests, some of whom speak English, can answer