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Jaffna Library

Jaffna and the Jaffna Peninsula

Jaffna Library

You will be collected from your hotel this morning for a tour that will take around five to six hours including lunch.

Within Jaffna itself you will visit the Jaffna Fort, built by the Portuguese in 1618. The Dutch captured it in 1658 and quickly extended the fort and that is why it is also known as the Dutch Fort. The British took control in 1795 and kept it until 1948. The fort was badly damaged during the civil war with only parts of the outer walls remaining; however work is now in progress to restore this historical site.

You will also visit the famous Jaffna Library, built in many stages starting from 1933. It became a repository of archival material written in palm leaf manuscripts, historical documents and newspapers published hundreds of years ago in Jaffna. Unfortunately an incident in 1981 resulted in the library being set on fire by hooligans and completely destroyed. It was restored and reopened in February 2004 and is one of the finest buildings in Jaffna.

Leave Jaffna behind and travel across the Jaffna Crossway, to Kayts Island to get a feel for island life with its little villages and many churches and look out over the water to see Kayts Sea Fort. Return to Jaffna for lunch.

After lunch travel to Nallur, a suburb just three kilometers from the hustle and bustle of Jaffna city. This was the ancient capital of the Jaffna kingdom. The Nallur Kovil Temple was founded in 948 AD and later developed by Puvenaya Vaku, chief minister to the ruler of Jaffna, Kalinga Magha, in the 13th century AD. It was destroyed in 1450 AD by Sembaha Perumal, a warrior of the Sinhalese King Parakramabahu and then rebuilt seven years later by the same person who regretted causing destruction to this holy site. It was destroyed once again by the Portuguese in 1634 and rebuilt by the Dutch in 1749. With contributions from the public the temple has been developed in to what it is today, one of the most significant and important Hindu temples on the Jaffna peninsula. Next you will visit Manthiri Manai — the remains of the palace of King Sangiliyan, the last King of Jaffna, and the Cankilian Thoppu, the façade of the Palace (Palace gates.) You finish the day with a quick visit to the Nilavarai, popular among local tourists for its square well of unknown depth.

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You can enjoy this activity as part of the suggested tour below, or we can weave it into a trip shaped entirely around you.