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Now that the civil war between the government and the Tamil rebels has ended, tourists can again travel to the Tamil north and east of Sri Lanka.

Street in Jaffna

A simple, but expensive way of getting to Jaffna is on a domestic flight from Ratmalana Airport, which is 15 kilometres south of Colombo.

Taking the train is a lot cheaper: ticket prices are around ten euros for a single ticket. The line between Colombo and the Jaffna peninsula was completely refurbished in October 2014. Tickets must be booked a day or two in advance. The trip from Hikkaduwa takes roughly ten and a half hours, with a stop of just over two hours in Colombo. Trains leave from Hikkaduwa at 7.42 am and arrive in Jaffna at 6.15 pm. Usually, though, the train is about an hour late.

Tempel in Jaffna

Very few traces of the civil war remain in Jaffna city. Most buildings have been rebuilt and restored, for instance the station, which was badly damaged during the war. There is a wide choice of hotels and guesthouses. Despite this, very few tourists travel to Jaffna, and the city and peninsula are pleasantly untouristy.

Stupas in Kantharodai

The bazaar quarter of Jaffna is particularly worth visiting - it is similar to the Pettah in Colombo - as is the Hindu temple in the suburb of Nallur, one of the most beautiful in Sri Lanka. There is plenty to see on the rest of the peninsula and the islands, and it makes sense to hire a driver for the day to see all the sights.

The Hindu tempel in Nallur

Until the 16th century, the Jaffna peninsula was a minor kingdom ruled by the Indian-Tamil Chola dynasties, largely separate and independent of the Singhalese rulers.

At the beginning of the 17th century, under Portuguese colonial rule, all the major Hindu temples were closed by Christian missionaries. Under British rule, the temples were restored or rebuilt. Although they are "only" a little older than 200 years, the Hindu temples on the Jaffna peninsula are well worth visiting.

City map of Jaffna

City map of Jaffna