It is about 7 years since the civil war ended but I never got a chance to visit Jaffna. Of course my hubby dearest visited earlier right after the end of war was declared. I’m sure he was lucky to have a good view of how it had been back during the days of war as he experienced the clear difference of now and then, when we visited together this time.
I have a couple of posts related to the trip, to give a big of details about touring in Jaffna. This post is more of a central page where I explain the two days we had.
Our trip was not really a sight seeing one purely. We had a Wedding reception to attend. We wanted to make the most out of the trip, so Managed to squeeze a bit of touring in between. Here are the details.
Jetwing Jaffna Hotel
From the Images and thanks to Google Street View, I figured it would not be a massive hotel, but more of a City Hotel like Cinnamon Red. We were correct. The hotel is situated right in the middle of the city, closer to all the amenities possible. The Hospital, the shopping mall Cargills Square, Cinema Hall, Fort, Everything is located close to Jetwing Jaffna.
We actually booked our stay on an offer. So it was LKR 15,000+ odd. I feel like that is a worth deal as it is a City hotel. First thing we noticed was the Oh-So-Regal lobby! With wood works and Statues, it was a lovely entrance to set the whole Jaffna Feel. To add to it, we got a traditional welcome by the staff with the Red and yellow pottu 🙂 The staff is very very friendly! You get escorted to your room with a full explanation of the facilities.
The rooms are of course of Jetwing standard. Not huge, but it is spacious. You get a view of the city from the balcony and it is nothing different to Colombo. I actually got a Colombo feeling when I saw WSO2 standing in front of me. If you take a really close look, you can spot many Hindu temples here and there.
You can arrange transport from the hotel if you prefer, to go around the city but if it is an evening, you can of course take a nice walk too. The hotel staff will help with all your queries you have about Jaffna, so you enjoy the city well.
The food at the hotel is just SO good!! I loved their breakfast. It of course contains some usual dishes like baked beans, scrambled eggs etc. But the idly and the porridge, Sambar, was just YUM!
I loved how the interior was done in the rooms. The wooden carving above the bed, gave a Indian/ royal feel to the ambiance. The only negative about the rooms are the blinders they had! Jaffna 6am and 12pm has no difference. Therefore, the sun rise is enough to put you out of bed. I wish they had thicker curtains installed so you can be on the bed for some late hours to catch some rest from the long journey we took.
We booked our stay at the hotel on Bed and Breakfast basis, hoping to experience some authentic Jaffna meals from the shops around. After reading up some Yamu reviews, we settled to go to Malayan Cafe. It is about a 650m walk from the hotel. Given that it was for lunch, we walked under hot sun. It was like a walk through pettah streets. We reached the shop in about 10 minutes time.
Malayan cafe is a typical Saiwar you get in Colombo. It was packed with tourists and locals, and we figured because the food was so good. Since it was lunch, many orders were for rice and curry. You get served on a banana leaf and u eat with your hands. The staff knows no Sinhala or english. So use your fingers to show how many portions you need etc. We said Vada and Dosa, hoping to eat some good Ulundu vada and Masala dosa. Manged to get it ordered.
The tastes were different! as in, we loved it! I’m sure the Ghee and the spices have a major role to play in the difference we tasted. The Vada was so light compared to what we have here, that I ended up eating two of it! My usual capacity is just one. The masala dosa was just Yum! Wish I had two of them 🙁 but at that time, I was just full by just one Dosa. You get a good serving of Dhal and sambal for the Vada and I think those qualifies for a refill.
You can get Tea or Coffee after your meal but since the two of us are neither tea or coffee people, we just finished our meal with bottle water. The whole meal cost us only 320/= mind you, this was including the vada appetizers and the water bottle.
Green Grass Hotel & Restaurant
This was actually where the reception was held, that we attended. I’m writing about this hotel because their food was just awesome! Their veggies tasted better than non-vegs! This is actually a pretty great restaurant and a hotel. You can easily check your self in at this place if you are budget conscious but need to have a good stay in Jaffna. They have a great reception hall, which can accommodate up to about 500 people.
This is the first place we visited during our city tour. The temple is photo-worthy, with it’s carvings and architecture. It holds a huge cultural and a religious value. For the little history knowledge that I have, I was awed by it’s detailed carvings and drawings only. Inside the kovil, it has a lot of signs to remind people that photography is prohibited. Hubby had to take off his shirt before entering, as it is mandatory to show respect. We worshiped, and took a walk around the kovil. The pillars are carved, detailed and painted in gold. Inside, there are what seemed like sub areas where Pooja was going on. We spent a little time inside, observing how people pray gratitude to god, attending to various customs and rituals.
Rio Ice Cream
How can you skip a chance to taste original Rio Ice cream while you are in Jaffna! I have never tasted Rio in Colombo also, so for me, it was no comparison. Husband of course had a bit of a comparison and he said the stuff in Jaffna is greater than in Colombo 🙂
Rio Ice cream building is huge, for just an Ice cream place. Greater than Carnival of course. They have about 20 varieties of ice cream, a small counter of sweets made out of milk and some shakes. We took a Kithul Nut ice cream and it is divine! Taste of the ice cream is not the same as we taste usually. It has a nutty, laddu-ish flavor to it, which I believe is coming from the natural ingredients they use.
We spent most of the time from our tour, at Jaffna Fort. It was around 9.30 am when we reached there, and boy I missed my hat! Jaffna Fort is ideal for those photo shoots which brings out the regal elegance. We thought the place is still under construction, with bits and pieces we saw around, which is great! More to be expected in years to come. We noticed where the Army may have had their weapons placed, well, quite a lot of broken buildings etc. The water trapped on the back side was of course, littered as it could be, but the view towards the ocean is beautiful. With the road, stretching towards Nagadeepa and the well built roads running along the beach, it gives a Colombo feel while we were standing there, enjoying the sea breeze.
The library is actually a really nice building. We wanted to go there and have a look but it is closed on Sunday. We managed to click some pictures just from the entrance so that we mark our presence there 🙂 I hope there is nothing much to see other than the architecture of it, so we feel that we didn’t miss a lot.
So, These are the details of our little trip to Jaffna. It was worth the 12 hour ride 🙂 Hope this information helps for anyone who is planning to visit there soon. Mind you, these details may be obsolete by then as Jaffna is going through rapid development for what we saw.