The Jaffna Peninsula was formerly dotted with a number of memorials and other landmarks associated with the LTTE which have now been destroyed following the end of the war. Prabhakaran’s childhood home was one such place, formerly attracting a steady stream of visitors, many of whom recorded panegyrics to the great leader in graffiti on the walls (the more enthusiastic visiting LTTE cadres used to write messages in their own blood). The house, which was already roofless, has now been razed completely, and a resident soldier will prevent you from even taking photographs of the now empty plot.

If the government’s decision to destroy Prabhakaran’s house to prevent it becoming an object of pilgrimage is understandable, its decision to bulldoze the enormous LTTE war cemetery at Kopai (along with other LTTE cemeteries elsewhere in the island) is less defensible. The cemetery formerly contained the graves of around two thousand fallen LTTE cadres, although these have now been destroyed and an army camp built on the site. The army claims that none of the graves actually contained any human remains and that the entire cemetery was in fact simply a massive LTTE propaganda exercise, although it’s difficult not to feel, irrespective of the graves’ actual contents, that razing such a place amounts to a pointless and barbaric act of desecration. The cemetery’s alleged power to inspire future freedom fighters is in any case far from certain – indeed the sobering sight of so many young Tamil dead might have provided future generations with a powerful image of the futility of war, and therefore have helped to ensure such a conflict never arises again.

Book through Rough Guides’ trusted travel partners

Sri Lanka features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

10 Sri Lankan foods you need to try

10 Sri Lankan foods you need to try

The tear-shaped Indian Ocean island of Sri Lanka is a true culinary treat. Through years of colonisation and trade, many cultures have influenced its cuisine, c…

15 Nov 2017 • Sarah Gilbert insert_drive_file Article
16 evocative pictures of Sri Lanka

16 evocative pictures of Sri Lanka

After a couple of weeks travelling across Sri Lanka, photographer Nori Jemil shares why this Indian Ocean island is a perfect subject. Here are 16 of her favour…

11 Oct 2017 • Nori Jemil insert_drive_file Article
Sri Lanka: 10 tips for first-time visitors

Sri Lanka: 10 tips for first-time visitors

Sri Lanka’s heady mix of British colonial heritage, beautiful landscapes and incredibly friendly locals make it a beguiling destination. But the tropical isle…

29 Aug 2017 • Chloe Cann insert_drive_file Article
View more featureschevron_right

Weekly newsletter

Sign up now for travel inspiration, discounts and competitions

Sign up now and get 20% off any ebook