Jaffna is special for several reasons, one being that it was denied – or was it spared? – tourism for two decades. In fact more aid workers than tourists travel to Jaffna nowadays. But after three years of ceasefire, and with the undeniable fact that the north is a magnetic destination, this situation should change. In anticipation, we asked our travel correspondent to pack her bag.
Jaffna is many things, so many in fact that it cannot be done justice to in a short travel article. From its rich history to colourful cultural traditions to unique landscape to delicious mangoes and other Jaffna specialities – there is too much to discuss. The images in my mind of Jaffna are its tall, straight palmyrah palm trees; women riding bicycles equally straight and tall; and the beaming unconditional smiles that readily come to people’s faces, especially if you smile first.
It is unfortunate that Jaffna’s recent chequered history overshadows its much more glorious ancient history. However there is no ignoring the effect the civil conflict has had on Jaffna and its surrounds. It is evident throughout the town and the peninsula. While the conflict has had a devastating impact, some say the fact Jaffna was cut off from the rest of the island for 20 years has helped preserve some of its distinct cultural traditions.