We used to go inside of the Dutch Fort in our junior school days with our class teacher as she was residing inside the Dutch Fort with her husband who was a senior Police Officer attached to the Jaffna Fort.
Thereafter we somehow managed to enter inside the Fort which was heavily guarded at the main entrance for hunting the sweetest juicy yellow berries of a kind of creeper, which were so abundant on the ramparts and around the bastions of the Fort. As we were told there were crocodiles in the moat around the Fort we were very careful while we were plucking the berries on the edge of the ramparts not to fall in the moat.
The Jaffna Fort has been called one of the best and strongest in Asia, designed and built in strict accordance with the rules of military fortification. It had a larger garrison than the Castle of Batavia in Indonesia. The Jaffna Fort was built exclusively for military and administrative purposes.
The first permanent European occupier, the Portuguese, originally built Jaffna Fort and then it was captured in 1658 after a three and a half month siege by Dutch and reshaped as the Dutch Fort of Jaffna. The result was a superior Fortress, probably the strongest fortification in Asia.
It was often the Dutch church named the “Kruys Kerk” inside the Fort which was built by the VOC, which was a major attraction to me and I was amazed by the architecture, the carvings and paintings.
It had the shape of an old Greek cross (Kruys) and was a typical Calvinistic building. The Kruys Kerk which was built in 1706 and could take in 600 believers at once was an amazing place where I wanted to spend more and more time. I was told by my class teacher, the Burger and European women, who attended the services in the church, were followed by their slaves carrying a chair and after the services taking them back. But the LTTE’s attack to capture the Fort, which was occupied by the Sri Lankan Army, destroyed the church and the Fort infrastructure completely.
The Dutch Fort of Jaffna almost disappeared thereafter.