There is more to Jaffna than just being a vast region that boasts a total contrast of the rest of the populated regions in the country. There are numerous things to be explored, experienced, and discovered here – some of these unique experiences are hidden away in the small islands that are located a short distance apart from the mainland. One such island is located towards the west of Jaffna, about 27 kilometres away and it is known by the name Nainatiivu. This 6 km long island is known in Sinhala as Naagadeepa and it is home to over 2500 people. This once was an island that was unreachable for as long as 30 years because of the civil war. The scars the battles have left behind are still remnant as ever with empty soot-filled shells that were once probably happy homes.
Today People in and around the country visit the island on pilgrimages as it is home to both the Buddhist and Hindu temples. The island bears great historic and religious significance as Buddhists believe that Lord Buddha set foot on this island. And Hindus believe that the island was graced by Goddess Parvati’s reincarnation Nagapooshani Amman. Both temples are extraordinary and worth a visit. For those who plan on doing so, take the bus that goes over the causeway making stops at 2 islands. Once you’ve reached the second one, get off and take the ferry ride to Nainativu. Be warned that this is no normal ferry ride, it is as jam-packed as the Sri Lankan buses, and the vessel in itself seems rickety. Nonetheless, you’ll reach your destination safely.
Once you’ve arrived on the island, follow the other pilgrims and you’ll find a wonderful Buddhist temple on the island called Naagadeepa Purana Viharaya. It is an ancient temple that is stunningly beautiful and not to mention, it is ancient as well. The highlight of the attraction would be the statues of cobras seen inside, particularly the statue of Budhha that’s being sheltered by the cobra. Next, you can move on to the Hindu temple as well which is called Naagapooshani Amman Temple. It is the most colourful structure on the island being adorned with an immaculate spire that contains the sculptures of deities and characters from ancient Hindu mythologies. There is a large statue of the sacred cow outside the temple as well. You can observe people as they take part in religious activities called Pooja.
Note – Remember to inquire about what time the last ferry to the island leaves so you won’t be stranded here once you are done exploring.