East (Trincomalee)

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Distance from Colombo: 280 km

Trincomalee is a port city in the East coast of the Island. The city is built on a peninsula and the port, which is a natural deep-water harbor has attracted seafarers like Marco Polo, Ptolemy and Sea Traders from China and East Asia since ancient times.

Another interesting fact is that in size, Trincomalee is the world’s fifth largest natural harbor. During the time of European invasions, the Portuguese, the Dutch, the French, and the English took their turns in vying for the control of the harbor. Trincomalee has some of the most scenic, charming and un-spoilt beaches in the country. As the sea in and around the bay is relatively shallow, the area is famous for bathing and swimming. In some instances, one can walk out over a 100 meters into the sea without the water reaching the chest.

An activity that is getting quite a bit of popularity in the eastern shores of the country is Whale & Dolphin watching in Trincomalee. This has led to an influx of tourists in the area. The best time for sighting these beautiful creatures is from June to September.

Trincomalee is one of the main centers of Tamil speaking culture on the island. The city is home to the famous ancient Koneswaram temple also known by its historic Tamil name Thirukonamalai. The Portuguese called it the Temple of a Thousand Pillars. Three ancient bronze images and a Shiva lingam adorn the temple. Puja services are especially colorful at dusk on Fridays. The entrance to the roadway leading to the temple is actually the entrance to what used to be Fort Fredrick. The fort was built in 1624 by the Portuguese. At one end of the port is a cliff known as Swami Rock, dropping about 360 feet directly in to the sea, which also perpetuates of a Dutch legend about a Lover’s leap.

Other famous sites to visit in Trincomalee are the Red Rocks Bay, the Archaeological Museum with its noteworthy collection of antiquities and the Buddhist historical sites such as Sri Gajaba Cave Temple, Tiriyaya Temple and Welgama Temple.

On the road leading to Trincomalee, about 10 km west, are the Kanniya Hot Springs. There are seven hot springs, with each having water of a slightly different temperature. Each well is contained in an individual enclosure. Hindus believe that this is a creation of Vishnu and most visitors to the site will not leave without taking a refreshing bath, although use of the wells are controlled by the neighboring shrine.

Places of Interest
  • Trincomalee Harbour
  • Koneswaram Temple
  • Fort Fredrick
  • Swami Rock (Lover’s leap)
  • Nilaveli Beach
  • Dolphin & Whale watching
  • Red Rocks Bay
  • Archaeological Museum
  • Kanniya Hot Springs
  • Sri Gajaba Cave Temple, Tiriyaya & Welgama Temple
  • Pigeon Island