Although most visitors are drawn to this part of the island by the beaches at nearby Nilaveli and Uppuveli, a day in Trincomalee offers an interesting change of scenery. The setting is beautiful, straddling a narrow peninsula between the Indian Ocean and the Inner Harbour, rising up to the imposing Swami Rock, the dominant feature on the coast hereabouts. The town itself possesses an understated but distinct charm all of its own, with an interesting old fort and sleepy backstreets lined with pretty colonial villas dotted with mosques, churches and dozens of colourful little Hindu temples. Catering to the town’s predominantly Tamil population, the temples give parts of the city a decidedly Indian flavour, especially at around 4 pm when Trinco fills with the ringing of bells and the sound of music from myriad temples for the late-afternoon puja.
Things To Do At Trincomalee
There are not just white sands, wildlife and rock formations to enjoy at Trincomalee but a range of activities and places to see. In the evening laid-back bars line the beach oozing with chill vibes, relax in a hammock and enjoy the sunset after an afternoon snorkelling at Pigeon Island. The beauty of Trincomalee island is that it is full of local life. The people have not changed their way to accommodate tourists making it an ideal location to see the rare and untouched parts of Sri Lanka.
Dolphins at Trincomalee © leodaphne / iStock
Whale-watching is somewhat a hot spot at Trincomalee, with the best times to go being between March and August. Expect to see Blue Whales and Sperm Whales, it is also likely that you will see Dolphins and a range of fish species.
Sri Pathrakali Amman Kovil
This Hindu temple is full of colourful garlands and aromatic incense. Something not to be missed if you love your doses of culture.
Fort Frederik was built by the Portuguese back in the day and is now used by the Sri Lankan military. Luckily for you, the old fort is open to visitors and can make an interesting trip. The area is covered by trees providing a shaded haven to escape the midday heat.
Koneswaram Temple is not just any regular temple as its location makes it special. The views of Trincomalee Bay can be seen here in all its glory. Drink from a coconut and admire the temple and views.
History at Trincomalee
Eastern Sri Lanka’s major town, TRINCOMALEE (or “Trinco”) has been celebrated since antiquity for its superlative deep-water harbour, one of the finest in Asia – the legendary Panduvasudeva is said to have sailed into Trincomalee (or Gokana, as it was originally known) with his followers, while the town served as the major conduit for the island’s seaborne trade during the Anuradhapuran and Polonnaruwan periods. The harbour was later fought over repeatedly during the colonial period and even attracted the hostile attentions of the Japanese air force during World War II.
Trincomalee suffered massively following the onset of the civil war in 1983. Although Trinco avoided the massive bomb damage inflicted on Jaffna, the town’s position close to the front line made it the island’s major collecting point for war-displaced refugees, while tensions between the town’s Tamil, Muslim and Sinhalese communities regularly erupted into communal rioting. Things have been a lot quieter following the expulsion of the LTTE from the east in 2007, and Trinco is now once again looking to the future with renewed, if cautious, optimism.
Featured Image, Shiva Statue, Koneshwaram Hindu Temple © erandalx / iStock