Trincomalee

Details

Watch the sun rise over beautiful bays, go for long walks and build castles on sandy beaches, learn of history by visiting the finest harbour, re-live colonialism by walking through Fort Frederick, experience religion and culture that are centuries old, gaze at the sun set as the boats come home laden with the days catch...this is the essence of Trincomalee.

Trincomalee has the largest natural sea port in Sri Lanka, and the 5th largest in the world. In any season it is able to accommodate large sea going vessels, even a whole fleet for that matter, due to the depth of its waters and area. It is securely protected by rocks and small islets all around and was the most widely used harbour during the reign of Sinhala Kings, colonial rulers and the British, during the two world wars. Trinco was also a strategic Naval Base and fuel storage point during the world wars. The British Admiral Horatio Nelson described Trincomalee, as having “the finest harbour in the world”.

Trincomalee is the capital city of the Eastern province of Sri Lanka located on the East coastal belt of the island. ‘Trinco’, as it’s fondly referred to covers an area of 9,996 square kilometres and is the 5th most populous city in the island, where the ethnic minority of Tamils are settled. The tapestry of Sri Lankan history is richly woven around this port city built on a peninsula, dividing the inner and outer harbours.

Trinco’ has its history dating back to the 5th century BC when King Vijeya’s youngest son sailed in to this harbour to be his successor, on his invitation. The famous British sea Captain and historical writer Robert Knox who had to surrender to the king of Kandy came ashore by chance, also at the Trincomalee harbour. This natural harbour of deep waters attracted navigators such as Ptolemy, who drew the first map of Sri Lanka in the 2nd century A.D., and Marco Polo. They were followed by traders from China, Arabia, Rome and later Europe.

Trincomalee is most famous for its three bays. The Back Bay is North of Fort Frederick while the Dutch Bay is to the East of the town and the main inner harbour is on the west side of town providing an ample livelihood through fishing in all three bays. Trincomalee when translated to the original Tamil term ‘Thirukonamalai’ means – “Lord of the sacred hill”. On the summit of the 400 foot ‘Swami Rock’; a thousand pillared Hindu Siva temple was built in lavish style by the Indians as far back as the 3rd century. It was later destroyed by the Portuguese, who needed the stones to fortify the fort built nearby, known as Fort Frederick.

Trinco which was hard hit due to the internal terrorism war of over two decades and the tsunami of 2004, and is finally getting the reawakening it deserves. Two main bridges were constructed recently; the longest bridge in the island connects Kinniyai and Muttur areas with Trinco spanning 396 metres across a lagoon while the new Irakkandi Bridge links Trincomalee with Pulmodai to replace the old bridge destroyed by the tsunami.

Places of Interest

  • Nilaveli Beach –12 kilometres along the turn off near Trinco town like a ribbon of white and turquoise blue, welcoming and inviting, unhurried and unspoilt is the pristine Nilaveli Beach, spreading for almost 4 kilometres, undoubtedly the best beach in the island.

  • Uppuveli Beach – Easily accessible, close to the centre of town, is a quiet unspoilt stretch of seacoast ideal for sun bathing, snorkelling etc.

  • Fort Frederick – Fort Frederick was built by the Portuguese in 1624 and was captured by the Dutch, French and finally was a British Garrison during the two world wars. Today it remains garrisoned by the Sri Lankan Army, but visitors are allowed. The entrance to the fort gives the year of it being done up as 1675. Many colonial buildings as well as old cannons and other items are seen when passing through this arch way. Many tame deer are seen within the Fort, lying around, enjoying the shade and protection!

  • Thiru Koneswaram Hindu Temple – The legendary Koneswaram Hindu Temple crowned the Swami Rock, which was venerated by Hindu devotees from all over India as the Swami Rock is considered Holy. An elaborate 1000 pillared temple was built on it by the then ruling Chola Indian dynasty only to be razed to the ground by the Portuguese to fortify Fort Frederick. However, some of its idols have been recovered by divers and a new temple is now erected on the eastern edge of the rock. The temple thus hovers just by the edge of the ocean and looking below one sees the strip of land which is the town, connecting to the main land. The temple is reached by passing through the Fort.

  • Lovers Leap – There is a single pillar from the original temple erected at the summit close to the Koneswaram temple, at the edge of the cliff to mark this site. It is said that a Dutch official’s daughter, Francine committed suicide when she leaped to the depths below which crash upon rocks, when her lover bade her good bye and sailed off to Europe.

  • Seven Natural Hot springs – These are seven hot springs in Kinniyai a sandy deserted area 5 miles from Trincomalee town, and about half mile off the Anuradhapura road. These hot springs are entirely enclosed with a wall and each well in turn is enclosed in tiled half walls. It is a public bathing spot with buckets, and the temperature varies slightly in each.

  • St. Stephen’s Cemetery – On the road to Nilaveli just north of the town is the world war cemetery of the British. There are extensive records preserved with the caretaker, for those who are interested, with the cemetery still in a good condition after the many attacks suffered due to the internal unrest.

  • The Giri Kandi Caitiya – Buddhist archaeological site, sacred to the Buddhists, as it housed sacred relics of the Buddha. 45 Kilometres north of Trinco, in Tiriyayi, it has a ‘vatadage’/circular relic house, moon stone and guard stones, elaborately carved.

  • Velgam Vehera – Is located 8 Miles North West of Trinco passing the beautiful ‘Periyakulam’ tank, close to Kinniyai. An unusual Buddhist Vihara, known as Natanar Kovil to Hindus dates back to the 2nd century. This was one of the few Buddhist sites not destroyed by the invading Chola Dynasty from India, but rather, they added their Hindu architectural designs to it and used the existing site as the Natana Kovil.

  • Seruwila Mangala Maha Chethiya – Across the Koddiyar bay and 16 kilometres by road in to the village of Toppur. Land route is via Kantalai, to Allai which is approximately 45 kilometres through dense forest. Origin 2nd Century B.C. Buddhist monument complex restored in the 1920's. It comprises of Balustrades with elephant motifs, guard stones and stone door frame, Sculptured stone lotus, Ancient pond, moonstones and much more. It was the work of King Kavantissa, to enshrine the Frontal Bone Relic of the Buddha here to unify the country to the south and set Mahagama as his capital, which he achieved.

  • The new Kinniya Bridge – The longest bridge in the island spanning 396 metres over a scenic lagoon has a width of 10 metres with 7.4 metres width for vehicles and a 1.5 metre space for pedestrians along the A-15 highway.

Travel Tips

  • Check with the military personnel at the Fort prior to taking any photographs of the many deer roaming about freely, or feeding them.

  • Do not venture a lone too far into unknown territory.

  • Sharks are seen in these waters in the deep, and are best left to skin divers, who say they are friendly!

  • Wading in the waters of the sea and the bays during early morning hours is fun, as it’s only knee deep, but come ashore before midday or even 11.00 AM, as the tide rises then.

  • Even though the internal war is over in Sri Lanka, please carry your passport or other valid identity document when travelling.

How to get there –

Public transport of busses, air conditioned intercity express busses or the rail are all options one can make. It takes almost 7 hours by bus, while the train takes much longer with the overnight sleeper being a better option. The distance is almost 257 kilometres from Colombo to Trincomalee while Kandy to Trinco is 182 kilometres. A vehicle of your choice can be rented as self drive or hired with a chauffeur /guide and it is advisable to get a map from the tourist section of the airport on arrival at Katunayake.

Where to Stay

Nilaveli Beach Hotel – Offers 80 rooms with Air conditioning, pool and in house buffet restaurant situated close to the beach.

Hotel Nilaveli Garden Inn – Located on the beach, a reasonably priced hotel.

Club Oceanic – A beautiful 40 roomed deluxe hotel, with pool, beach, buffet restaurant and many modern facilities.

Hotel Sea View – A budget hotel near Nilaveli, offering food and rooms plus friendly service

Welcombe Hotel – 66 Lower Road, Orr’s Hill, Trincomalee, along the south shore of the inner harbour. Clean and spacious hotel with air conditioned rooms, bar, satellite television, offering breakfast and dinner on the terrace, overlooking the bay.

7 Islands hotel – Located on Orr's Hill Road, Trincomalee at the northern end of the Inner Harbour. Newly refurbished offers rooms with a view of the bay.

There are only a limited number of guest houses and hotels in Trincomalee, but major tourism development with star class hotels are planned in the near future.

images

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Please note the images in this section is from http://www.zeylanica.com and http://www.flickr.com

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Sri Lanka has a 1340 kms of shore line with established tourist destinations in the west and southern coasts to worlds finest surf destinations in the east coast to un-spoilt north east shoreline with one of the most picturesque natural harbours . Sri Lankas  north west coast and surrounding sea ..

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According to the recorded history the first Aryans colonized and made their first kindom in Sri Lanka in 543 BC. They had a well ordered civilization, complete cities, palaces, parks, monasteries and highly developed irrigation systems by this time. To date the remains of these great can be seen in Sri Lanka.

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