Discover a different Sri Lanka in its Northern Province
The North of Sri Lanka is a world that is different from the rest of the country. Your North Sri Lanka itinerary would include places like Mullaitivu, Kilinochchi, Vavuniya, Jaffna, Mannar and Karainagar. During the 30 year civil war, the area was engulfed between the rebels and was out of bounds for tourism. The North is technically closer to South India than it is to Colombo, and has a 2000 year history separating the Tamils and the Sinhalese. Thankfully, everyone has now reconciled and there is much peace in the country. When you visit the North based on your Sri Lanka itinerary, you will notice that it has retained a unique character and culture with a mix of Hindu India and Buddhist Sri Lanka. Some of the best places to visit in North Sri Lanka are the untouched beaches, temples, and historical sites/ruins. Explore other range of available Sri Lanka Itineraries here.
Why include a North Sri Lanka itinerary in your holiday plan?
- Visit a collection of islands to the west of Jaffna, closer to India. Nainativu is one island that is home to two important religious shrines.
- Visit historical sites in almost every town in the Northern Province. In fact, walk around the streets and you will notice ruins of gunshots through houses and buildings, burnt down trees, etc.
- The northern beaches should be amongst the best places to visit in North Sri Lanka as they are believed to be very safe for a swim as you can walk deep into the sea and still be able to stand on your two feet.
Where to go and what to do in North Sri Lanka
Jaffna is probably the best place to visit in North Sri Lanka. This remote and war-torn town is now open for visitors and many often notice the profound Indian influence in this part of North Sri Lanka. Along with the palm fringed coastlines, when in Jaffna, your North Sri Lanka itinerary should include the following:
- Religious sites such as Nallur Temple, Naga Pooshani Ambal Kovil, and Nagadipa Purana Vihara
- Casuarina Beach
- Charty Beach
- Keerimalai – Water springs
- Catholic Cathedrals
- Jaffna Market
- Jaffna Public Library
See Also : Jaffna Itinerary
This is a small, yet notable island located to the west of Jaffna. The island is only 10km long and you can get there by boat from Jaffna.
Buddhists visit this island for the Nagadipa Temple. According to history, Buddha visited this island when a naga king and his nephew were fighting over a gem studded throne. The solution from Buddha was to give the throne to the temple.
Although the throne and original temple does not exist today, there is a domed temple where 3 Buddha’s sit and just in front of that is a silver painted dagoba.
The Tamil/Hindus visit this island for the Nagapoosani Amman Temple.
Point Pedro is a town at the northernmost point of Sri Lanka. The soils of this town are fertile for cotton production. The eastern coast of this town is a 20 mile long beach with massive sand dunes. Under this soil, there is believed to be over a billion liters of fresh water.
The Fort in Mannar was built in 1560, claimed by the Dutch in 1658 and rebuilt by them. Today the insides are mostly destroyed but the walls are intact and often visited by tourists as a part of their North Sri Lanka itinerary. Another highlight here is the Ketheeswaram Temple, a Tamil holy site.
Mannar Island is off the northwestern coast of Sri Lanka. Just 50 square kilometers in size, this dry and barren island is mostly covered with vegetation, is popular for fishing and is also known as a bird sanctuary. This spot is the windiest place in all of Sri Lanka.
This town lies approximately 100 km south-east of Jaffna and during the civil war, Kilinochchi was the administrative center of the Tamil Tigers. The highlight here is the remnants of a huge water tank that was destructed by the LTTE. There is also a memorial tribute to a Sri Lankan army officer who sacrificed his life for the country. The newly built railway in Kilinochchi is a sign of a better future in this war torn town.
A large fishing settlement is based in the town of Mullaitivu, where many battles took place as there was a large base camp of the Tamil Tigers here. Mullaitivu was largely affected by the tsunami in 2004 and since 2009, the town is under the control of the Sri Lankan army. Extra curious travelers to the island would include the war museum in Mullaitivu on their list of best places to visit in North Sri Lanka.
Several pictures of the civil war period, assault vehicles and weapons used are all displayed at this museum. There is also a victory monument next to the museum in memory of the Sri Lankan army who fought and won the war.
Vavuniya has an airport used by Sri Lankan Airforce and provides a gateway for people to access North Sri Lankan towns much faster. Your North Sri Lanka itinerary should include the archaeological museum and the Grand Jummah Mosque in Vavuniya.
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