• Excursions

    Nagadeepa Temple - Nayanativu Island

    (40 min by road, 20 min by sea)

    Nagadeepa Vihara, an ancient Buddhist temple is located in Nagadeepa; one of the islands in a cluster that huddles close to the western coast of the peninsula with Palk Strait shaping around it. The stupa of modest dimensions commemorates the Buddha’s third visit to Sri Lanka. Image house next to the stupa features a fine golden Buddhist statue.

    Nallur Kandhaswamy Kovil - Jaffna town

    Nallur Kandhaswamy Kovil, main landmark of Jaffna located 3km northeast of the town center, dedicated to the Hindu God Murugan was built in 1807 during the British occupation. The original shrine, a devalaya featuring the statues of Hindu Gods and Buddha, built by the Prince Sapumal of Kotte Kingdom, the vice royal of Jaffna Peninsula was destroyed by the Portuguese, on the 2nd of Feb 1625. To date at the Nallur Kandhaswami Kovil, prayers are recited in the name of Prince Sapumal of Kotte. According to the head of the Franciscan order in Ceylon, father Negaro, who had studied all available records, while in the Kingdom, Prince Sapumal after ascending the throne of Kotte as King Buvanekabahu VI had decided to populate the Northern area's as majority of these areas were deserted.

    Today the Kovil has developed into an enormous complex encompassing numerous shrines accessed by richly decorated corridors. Within the complex are a beautiful courtyard and a large tank. Since the temple was built in the year 1734 to 1749, it contained a shrine dedicated to an Islamic Sufisaint.However in the year 1749, dargah, the vault of the Islamic saint was removed by the Hindus.

    Dambakola Patuna - Madagal

    Dambakola Patuna (Jambukola Pattana) is located about 20 km from Jaffna town and 10 km from Kankasanthurai of the Jaffna Peninsuala, the northernmost peninsula of Sri Lanka. The distance form Colombo is 427km by A3 and A9 main motor roads.

    Dambakola Patuna is the sea port where the Buddhist nun Sangamitta Therani arrived in Sri Lanka bringing the southern sapling of the Bo or Peepal tree, the sacred Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi at Bodhgaya in India, in whose shelter the Prince Siddhartha attained supreme enlightenment, thereby becoming the Gauthama Buddha. Today the sacred tree is known to be the oldest recorded tree of the world and known by the name of Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi of Anurdahpura.

    The small stupa and the temple at Dambakola Patuna (Jambukola Pattana) are modern constrictions. The modern statue of Sanghamitta Therini was established there at a ceremony in 2010.

    Keeramalai Pokuna - Kiramalei

    The springs of Keeramalai are said to be of therapeutic value, containing healing waters. The site itself is of historical and religious importance.

    From its source in the rocks of Tellipallai¬Maviddapuram at an elevation of 10 metres, the spring waters flow through the crevices and fissures of the carbonated rocks encountering sea water as it emerges at Keeramalai. Its reputation for imparting therapeutic medicinal benefit to the human body comes from the fact that the spring waters whilst flowing through the fissures of the carbonated rocks acquire chemical values.

    Legend says that a saadhu from India, Nagulaswami (`fiagul' meaning mongoose in Sanskrit) came to bathe in the waters of this reputed spring after which his mongoose-like face turned into a human one. Thus the name of Keeramalai, 'keeri' - mongoose - and'malai' - mound - in Tamil was given to the place.

    Delft Island

    Delft is the island furthest of the Jaffna peninsula, with the exception of uninhabited island of Kachchative, which is further 30km southwest of Jaffna. Delft was occupied by all three colonial powers in Ceylon in succession. The bleak and barren landscape devoid of wood with the exception of a single stumpy Baobab Tree, scattered with coral-rock walls is populated by throngs of wild ponies, off shoot of the horses brought into the island by Portuguese. These wild horses roam freely in the grassy windswept plains of the island. A protection law has been enforced preventing horses being taken away from the Delft Island to any other location.

    Casurina Beach - Karainagar Island

    A pleasant beach with shallow water and coral where you can swim. The beach is fringed by Casuarina trees. These trees can survive very dry Climate and grow in sandy soils. It is probably due to its spiky branches which look like the feathers of the cassowary that the name of 'casuarina' has been given to this tree. This fascinating beach is located on the Eastern tip of the Karathivu island.

    St Mary's Cathedral - Jaffna

    Now known as the Jaffna Cathedral, St Mary's foundation stones were laid in 1789. It is in a plain Goanese style without any ornament or decoration. Its sheer size is however impressive. It was initially led by Father Leonardo Rebeiro of the Oratory of Goa. The marble tabernacle and exposition over the high alter were brought from Europe between 1901 and 1904, Rev. Dr Henry Joulain (a French priest, 1893¬1918, the second Bishop of Jaffna) presented his cathedral with a magnificent chime of bells - the first of its kind in the North that he ordered from MM. Pacard & Company, France. The bigger of the two old bells that had been presented by the oblates to the Cathedral in 1861 was removed to Madu while the smaller one was given away to the newly founded Nallur parish.

    Take the street which is almost opposite the St Martin's Seminary and drive through the gate which is at the end. The Cathedral is here, set in the middle of a large open space.

    Kadurugoda Temple - Kantharodai

    Kantharodai, described as Kadurugoda Temple in the Sinhalese chronicles, is a 3rd century BC Buddhist site located about 10km north of the city of Jaffna, and 2km west of the village of Chunnakam. A cluster of twenty miniature Dagobas, ranging in height from one to three meters, are unlike any other Buddhist religious site in Sri Lanka. It is believed each of the miniature Dagobas has the remains of Buddhist monks enshrined therein. The site is yet to be subjected archaeological exploration.

    Nagapooshani Amman Kovil - Nainativu Island

    Nagapooshani Amman Temple on the island of Nainativu is a very ancient Hindu temple. It is believed that this temple was originally erected many centuries before by the Nagas who were a pre-historic race of people of Sri Lanka. The temple was originally erected and dedicated for the worship of the Serpent God called "Nayinar" by the Nagas. In the Nainativu temple, the object of worship in the sanctum sanctorum is a stone figure of a five-headed cobra. The festival of the Sri Nagapooshani Amman Kovil is generally held in the Tamil month of Aani (June/July) each year for fifteen days.

    During the festive season, many childless couples come on pilgrimages to the Kovil to receive the blessings of the Nagapooshani Amman, the patron Mother Goddess of the Kovil. The devotees, whose wishes are bestowed, too come with their new born babies to fulfill their vows. As such, the Sri Nagapooshani Amman Kovil becomes a place of high activity during the festive season. Nainativu is a unique islet which houses the religious places belonging to all main religions practiced in Sri Lanka, namely Buddhism, Hinduism, Christianity and Islam.