iSee Old Kacheri

Crumbling piece of Jaffna’s past

Past - Colonial Administrative Office

The old Kachcheri in Jaffna lies in ruins today after facing the brunt of the war with the Tamil Tigers for 30 years. The building dates back to the mid-18th century. Built as an administrative building during the British colonial period, it was a great example of colonial architecture. It featured a symmetrical layout in a hexagonal shape, twelve cylindrical pillars to support the roof, and rows of massive windows to allow for natural light and improve ventilation. 

Present - Overgrown Ruins

The colonial administrative centre became the Jaffna Kachcheri. This district secretariat operated from this building up to 1990, when the Tamil Tigers captured it and turned it into their Police Headquarters. A key target in Operation Riviresa, a military invasion to regain control of Jaffna, the Kachcheri was heavily damaged. It was then left unused and exposed to elements. In the year 2000, when the Tamil Tigers attacked Jaffna town, the roof of the building was blown off, leaving only the bare husk. Now, the forgotten ruins of the old Kacheri are riddled with bullet holes and overgrown by roots and plants.

Future - A Museum Park?

With its Roman arches wrapped around the large central yard, the old Kacheri is still a beautiful example of Neo-Renaissance design. The archways may be crumbling, and the limestone walls are overgrown with moss, but it remains a place of magnificent architecture. We hope the Old Park around it can once again become a place for people to enjoy its unique collection of rare trees, including mahogany, ironwood and baobab. The Kacheri ruins could become a historic landmark within the upgraded park, boasting picnic places, jogging tracks and a children’s playground. 

This place has many scars. It has been through a lot, from heavy rain to political fights to artillery fire.
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