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Jaffna Fort

Jaffna, the embodiment of Sri Lankan Hindu-Tamil culture, houses the second largest fortress in the country.  Still standing strong as a monument resembling the military and political fabrication of the 17th century, the Jaffna Fort stands as a chief historical attraction in the region!

Jaffna, which was also known as ‘Nagadipa’, was the primary control centre of the trade route between India and Sri Lanka since ancient times and thus a location of great interest to the foreign invaders.  The Fort was built in the year 1618 under Portuguese General, Philip De Olivera, as the focal point of security for their regime during this time.  However, certain architectural features of the fort display influences of the Dutch and the British as well.

While this represents a point of inter-cultural culmination in the history of the country, within the fort there was also an inter-religious dynamic.  The Jaffna Fort is known as the ‘Fortress of Our Lady of Miracles of Jafanapatão,’ due to the numerous miracles that took place in the Catholic Church that carried the statue of Mother Mary.  The Hindu influence is demarcated through buildings that are closely associated with the religion.

The 30-year civil war in the North has caused significant damage to the seaside ramparts and to several edifices, leaving behind a lingering presence of affliction within the walls of this ancient citadel.

Within the fortress, intriguing antique structures of several other key buildings remain for public viewing.  These include the Queen’s House, Garrison Parade Ground, Governor’s Residence, police quarters, ramparts close to the seaside that is associated with the Dutch and several other key buildings from the era of the Portuguese.

A bygone world of rich historicity secluded within the boundaries of a once mighty fortress awaits exploration.

Title image by: KnowSL

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Culture and Heritage

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