The Localist


Nestled in Sri Lanka’s pristine east coast, Trincomalee is a coastal town located on a peninsular of the same name that divides into the inner and outer harbours. Trincomalee Harbour prides itself on being the fifth largest natural harbour in the world. The name Trincomalee comes from the three words Thiru-kona-malai, meaning Lord of the Sacred Hill, and is fondly nicknamed ‘Trinco’. Being a military brat, I spent my pre-school years in the city’s naval base and later, much of my school holidays in the suburb of China Bay. Trinco, for me, is a second hometown. Here is my top 5 things to do / places to see in this beautiful seaside town:

  1. The beaches. If you are looking for white sand beaches and shallow waters that extend for nearly 100m, you’ve found your haven! Nilaveli is a popular and often crowded beach, while Uppuveli and Marble beach are relatively less crowded. If snorkeling is your cup of tea, I suggest you head over to Pigeon Island, a more secluded national park that boasts a rich marine life. Heading beyond its shores, Trinco harbour is also a popular whale-watching destination and the best months for this activity are February to April.
  2. Koneshwaram and Lover’s Leap. Koneshwaram (pictured) is a Hindu temple dedicated to Shiva that has a history spanning all the way to the 3rd Century BCE. Built on Swami rock, this Hindu temple is popular for its religious significance as well as the fantastic views of the entire Trinco harbour. Adjacent to the temple is Lover’s Leap, a famous suicide spot in Sri Lanka. The story goes that Marina, a daughter of a British official jumped off Swami rock when she saw her lover, a British Captain, sailing back to Europe. Since then, many lovers have jumped off this cliff. Apparently, when you find an unclaimed pair of slippers at the top of the cliff someone is missing, and divers should be sent to examine the waters below
  3. World War II Cemetery. Trinco was an active hub in the Second World War and at one point, a Japanese air raid destroyed a British warship carrying 300 odd soldiers. The remains of these soldiers never made it back to Britain, and as a result Trinco houses a comprehensive war cemetery that is visited each year by many of these soldiers’ descendants.
  4. Kanniya hot springs. Hindu legend goes that King Ravana, whose mother was a devout follower of Lord Shiva, was trying to remove the temple of Koneshwaram when Lord Shiva intervened and made him drop his sword. Ravana’s mother, hearing the news was deeply saddened and passed away from a broken heart. Upon returning to perform the last rites for his mother, King Ravana struck the earth with his sword on seven spots from which sprang seven fountains. The water was hot and it gave birth to the seven hot wells of Kanniya. These hot wells are located very close to each other, and have water of seven different temperatures. It’s a popular site for performing the last rites by Hindus.
  5. Hoods Tower Museum. Located at Ostenburg, Hoods Tower is a naval museum located within the Sri Lanka Navy Dockyard. Hoods Tower gets its name from an observation tower named after a Royal Navy Vice-Admiral, Samuel Hood. During Dutch rule, the Fort of Ostenburg was the most powerfully gunned fort in Ceylon (former Sri Lanka). Today, however, little of this coastal artillery remains. The Hoods Tower Museum contains many naval artifacts, including weapons and attack crafts housed in underground casemates built during the Second World War.




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