North of Vavuniya the A9 runs through huge areas of eerily deserted land, a few ruins and the odd palm-thatch hut. Most of the villages marked on maps of the country along the A9 en route to Kilinochchi have largely disappeared, although life is now returning – very slowly – to the region.

About 80km north of Vavuniya, the small town of KILINOCHCHI served as the headquarters of the LTTE administration – effectively the Tamil Tiger capital –for many years. The town was finally recaptured by the SLA after an intense three-month battle between government troops and rebel cadres – the fall of Kilinochchi in January 2009 effectively marked the beginning of the end for the Tigers, and was greeted with wild celebrations around much of the island.

The town – which was more or less obliterated in the course of the 2008–09 siege – is now rising energetically from the ashes. A rash of shiny new shops, offices and government buildings have sprung up along the main road and much of the wartime devastation has now been patched up, although a huge water tower, blown up by the LTTE during the final stages of fighting, has been left where it fell next to the road, serving as a powerful reminder of the appalling physical devastation wrought by the war. Slightly further down the road stands a striking war memorial – an enormous grey stone cube, pierced by an artillery shell and with a lotus blooming out of the top.

Travel offers; book through Rough Guides

Sri Lanka features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

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
The truth about elephant tourism in Asia

The truth about elephant tourism in Asia

Elephants are born free, but are everywhere in chains – and it’s tourism which is increasingly to blame. Riding an elephant used to be on every visitor’s …

11 Aug 2017 • Gavin Thomas insert_drive_file Article
Why Sri Lanka should be the next place you take your kids

Why Sri Lanka should be the next place you take your kids

Sri Lanka is blessed with all the essential ingredients for the family trip of a lifetime. Comparatively compact, with a colourful cultural identity, incredible…

24 Jul 2017 • Keith Drew insert_drive_file Article
View more featureschevron_right

Join over 60,000 subscribers and get travel tips, competitions and more every month

Join over 60,000 subscribers and get travel tips, competitions and more every month