A major port since antiquity, Jaffna is the capital of Sri Lanka’s Northern Province. The town occupies a prominent position on the peninsula curling across the Palk Straits towards India, from where the ancestors, its Tamil-speaking inhabitants originated. Hindu influence remains strong here, and the most conspicuous landmarks are the giant temple gateway towers soaring above the skyline. The largest of them belong to Nallur Kandaswamy, Sri Lanka’s largest and most revered Hindu shrine.
Jaffna’s bustling Chunnakam Market is its other most worthwhile sight. A riot of colour, noise and intense aromas, the bazaar has a particularly lively fresh produce section. Look out for traditional cooking utensils and items made from different Palmyrah wood.