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Jaffna Fort

An 8 - 9 hour drive up north from Colombo will bring you to the epitome of the Hindu - Tamil culture of Sri Lanka, Jaffna. Within the Northern most city lies the second largest existing fort in Sri Lanka, popularly known as the Dutch Fort. The structure, along with a treasure trove of architectural monuments within it, have been painstakingly restored to near original condition after being embroiled in a 30 year civil war. As a result it has rapidly become one of the major attractions in Northern Sri Lanka.

Best Known For

  • The complex has become one of the major Jaffna attractions due to the iconic architecture that is strategically located to wade off any enemy approaching from the ocean, in addition to the many monuments within it, such as the Governor’s residence, the Queen’s House, Kruys Church, and the Garrison Parade Ground to name but four.
  • The Jaffna Fort also serves to be an epicenter for viewing the city on one side, and the wide blue Indian Ocean on the other. The aquamarine moats with the backdrop of the city are just some of the many magnificent views when strolling along the ramparts.

Interesting Facts

  • Although famously known as the ‘Dutch Fort’, the Jaffna Fort is actually a creation of the Portuguese colonizers in 1618.
  • The reason for being popularly known as the Dutch Fort is due to the Dutch colonizers’ expansion of it in the shape of a Vauban star design (a geometrically perfect set of pentagons within each other in the year 1658.
  • The statue of Virgin Mary in the church located inside the fort has been attributed to the occurrence of numerous miracles, which made the Portuguese colonizers name the fort ‘The Fortress of our Lady of Miracles of Jafanapatão’, further showing the religious significance it posed during the colonial era.
  • It was once a pristine fort, however, parts of the complex structure along with the buildings were destroyed during the 30 year civil war.
  • Jaffna Fort has undergone severe restoration works, after the end of the civil war in 2009, funded by various donors, especially the Dutch government.

Times, Seasons and Tips

  • The best time to visit the Jaffna Fort is during the months starting from April to June when the weather is more suitable for exploring the area.
  • The Fort is opened for visiting from 8.00am to 6.00pm.
  • It is best to take an hour or so to explore the fortress in its entirety, and advisable to begin in the morning hours.
  • Although a tourist attraction, it still serves as a garrison for the Sri Lankan Army, so exploration of some areas are off limits for tourists.
  • Make sure you bring some essentials like water, snacks and gear to protect you from the scorching sun.
  • It is important to adhere to the rules and regulations set forth by the authorities.

Jaffna has seen a quick rise in tourism after the end of the civil war, and one of the causes for such a rise can be attributed to the historical marvel of the Jaffna Fort. The walls literally tell you stories that are centuries old, and then again not so, so do not miss out on such a monument, should you be venturing North in this paradise island.

Title image by: KNOWSL

Location info

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Season

April - June

Guided Tour

Gemini Tours & Travels

Type

Culture and Heritage

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