The north feels a world away from the rest of Sri Lanka, and at its heart is Jaffna. Geographically closer to Southern India than Colombo, the region has developed its own unique identity; mainly due to the Tamil migrants that have settled here over many centuries, along with the Dutch and British that have shaped a lot of the architecture. It can’t be ignored that between 1983 and 2009 this region was the centre of a long and bloody war between the majority Singhalese and Tamil minority, further reinforcing the two thousand year difference that separates the Tamil north from the Singhalese south. The area is now safe and open to tourism and reaching the region is now fairly straightforward (a four hour drive from Anuradhapura). It offers visitors an insight to a region emerging from isolation; it’s also friendly, not at all touristy, and is appreciated not just for its sights, but also for its unusual and unique personality.
The Jaffna peninsular and surrounding islands also offer remote beaches and hidden temples that are seldom explored by tourists. Visiting Jaffna and the region surrounding it is ideal for more discerning travellers who are seeking a broad understanding of Sri Lanka’s turbulent past.