Trincomalee tourist Attractions
Trincomalee district with its natural deep water harbor at the sea port city of great Trincomalee bay, Nilaveli Beach, Uppuveli Beach, Pigeon Island, off-shore whale watching and Dolphin watching, Kanniyai Hot Springs, Colonial Fort Fredrick, Somawathiya Cheitiya Sanctuary, Serwawila historical Buddhist shrine, Velgam Wehera historical Buddhist shrine affords joys and experiences to Sri Lanka Holidays tourists of a diverse range of interests and activities.
Swimming at Nilaveli and Uppaveli tropical beaches, snorkeling at Pigeon island, enjoying marine life at off-shore Whale watching and Dolphin watching, getting close to the nature with wild elephants at Somawathie Chaitiya Sanctuary, getting immersed in the Sinhalese Buddhist Culture at Seruwawila historical Buddhist Shrine and Velgam Wehera historical Buddhist shrine, are definitely bound to deepen the experiences of light and enlightenment that would be gained in visiting 8 UNESCO World Heritage Sites (6 culture; 2 nature) and numerous other tourist attractions of the ancient tropical island of Sri Lanka.
Sri Lanka Holidays Trincomalee (Longitude: 810 13′E; Latitude: 080 33’N), one of the largest (Water: 1630 hectares; Entrance channel: 500 meters; Land Area: 5261 hectares–source Sri Lanka Port Authority), one of the finest deep water natural harbors in the world, is wrapped in a marvel of seascape, steeped in millenniums of history and shrouded in mystery in the antiquity of pre-recorded history.
Trincomalee Harbour: geographic, strategic and economic importance
When a bay is large and deep enough, it becomes a natural harbor, which is often of significant commercial and strategic importance.
A good natural harbor, while being deep enough (vertically) and large enough (horizontally), provide sheltered anchorage without the need to build a breakwater.
A good natural harbor is a bay or long-stretched strait, surrounded at as many sides as possible by land so ships anchored there would be protected high waves created by storms.
A good natural harbor, in most instances consist of inner bays since Captain Haddock’s Blue Blistering Barnacles storm waves that are bloody murder on docked boats, don’t go around corners well and waves are murder on docked boats.
In all accounts, Trincomalee is one of the finest deep water natural harbours in the world.
Quote Sir James Emerson Tennent (1804–1869), Colonial secretary of Ceylon (1845-1850)
As a harbor, Trincomalee is renowned for its extent and security; but its peculiar superiority over every other in the Indian seas consists in its perfect accessibility to every description of craft in every variation of weather. It can be entered with equal facility and safety in the north-east monsoon as in the south-west monsoon, and the water within is so deep that vessels can lie close to the beach, and discharge or receive cargo without intervention of boats.
The bay of Trincomalee presents to the eye a scene of singular beauty. Landlocked, and still as an inland lake, its broad expanse of waters, its numerous beautiful islands, and its rocky headlands, together with the woody acclivities in its vicinity, and the towering mountains in the distance, combine to form an oriental Windermere.
On comparing this magnificent bay with the open and unsheltered roadstead of Colombo, and the dangerous and incommodious harbor of Galle, it excites an emotion of surprise and regret that any other than Trincomalee should ever have been selected as the seat of government and the commercial capital of Ceylon. But the adoption of Colombo by the Portuguese, and its retention by the Dutch, were not matters of deliberation or choice. Its selection was determined solely by the accident of its proximity to the only district of the island which produced the precious Ceylon Cinnamon, which, as Phillip Baldaus quaintly observes, has always been “the Helen of bride of contest,” whose exclusive possession was disputed in turn by every European invader.
Unquote Quote James Emerson Tennent: Ceylon, an account of the island, Physical, Historical, Topgraphical
Being a central location between the east and the west, Trincomalee’s strategic importance has been proven during the colonial era and the then again during the First and Second World Wars.
The River Mahweli Ganga (Sinhala- Maha: great; weli: sand; ganga: river), the longest and largest river (length: 335 km; drainage basin: almost one-fifth of the total area of the island) of Sri Lanka, begins at Adam’s Peak Sri Pada also called Samanala Kanda (Sinhala: Butterfly mountain) and encircling the medieval royal city of Kandy drains into the Indian Ocean at Matur, 7km south of Trincomalee town in the Koddiar Bay of Trincomalee. In the year 1775, a midshipman on board MNS Seahorse, having sailed into the Trincomalee bay gushed: ‘the finest harbor in the world’. The midshipman went onto become a distinguished admiral of the British Colonial Navy: Lord Nelson (1758-1805 AD).
Trincomalee’s modern economic importance is bound to be proven in the near future.
On 24th February 2011, Mitchell Consortium of Australia with partners from Brazil and Sri Lanka made an unsolicited proposal to establish heavy industry plants at Trincomalee. These include a coking coal or metallurgical coal and an iron ore palletizing plant for steel making, and a sugar refinery. Investment for the first phase of the project that would occupy 97 square kilometers is expected to cost US$ 700 million.
Trincomalee Harbour: formation
Quote Henry Charles Sirr (1807-1872), Deputy Queen’s Advocate for the Southern Circuit of Ceylon (modern Sri Lanka) in the mid-19th century.
The entrance to the harbor is nearly five miles wide, and lies between Foul Point on the South-east, and Fort Frederick on the north-west, the width gradually decreasing to three miles between Norway Point to the south-west, and Chapel Island, on the north-west, when it expands suddenly and from Great Bay to the southward, and Trincomalee harbor to the northward.
Unquote Henry Charles Sirr; Ceylon and the Cingalese; “their History, Government and Religion; the Antiquities, Institutions, Revenue and Capabilities of the Island; with Anecdotes illustrating the Manners and Customs of the People”, London,1850
Trincomalee Harbour: the tropical beauty
The beauty of Trincomalee takes no back seats to its unchallenged strategic importance.
Quote British Explorer Samuel Baker
Few things surpass the tropical beauty of this harbor, lying completely land-locked, it forms a glassy lake surrounded by hills covered with waving foliage of coca-nut trees and palms of great variety. The white bungalows with their red-tiled roofs, are dotted about along the shore, and two or three men of war are usually resting at their ease in this calm retreat.
Unquote British Explorer Samuel Baker
Quote Sir James Emerson Tennent
The position and beauty of the Bay of Trincomalee, the overhanging rocks at its entrance, the stillness of the expanse within, and the luxuriance of the wooded acclivities surrounding all, forcibly recall Virgil’s imaginary description of the harbor of Carthage.
Unquote Quote James Emerson Tennent: Ceylon, an account of the island, Physical, Historical, Topographical. London,1859
Trincomalee beaches: Uppuveli to Nilaveli
Mile after mile of perfect beaches at Trincomalee invites the beach lovers to Uppuveli to Nilaveli and beyond. Uppuveli beach and Nilaveli beach north of Trincomalee are located 6km and 16km off the town 4 km further north of Nilaveli is the lagoon. Here is the chance of Sri Lanka Holidays tourists to ford the lovely and shallow beaches. Here is the opportunity to revel in safest swimming and surfing not to forget scuba diving along a stretch of lovely sands that extends to up the coast as well as down the coast. Yet swimming during the off season months of December and January could be dangerous. The season for eastern coast of Sri Lanka is May to September while the season for western (Kalpitiya), south western (Wadduwa to Galle) and southern coast (Galle to Tangalle) of Sri Lanka Holidays is during the main tourist season of October to April.
The estuary of the Sinnakarachchi lagoon is a paradise for fishermen. Close to Nilaveli Beach is the Red Rocks beach adorned with pink boulders and blue pools of water: an ideal location for swimming, bathing, fishing and picnicking.
16km north of Nilaveli Beach is the lovely beaches of Kuchchaveli: the Englishman John Still (1980-1941) author of “The Jungle Tide”; author of “Index to the Mahavansa”; discoverer of Lotus bath at Polonnaruwa; an assistant to illustrious H. C. P. Bell, the first commissioner of Archeology in Sri Lanka; an associate of illustrious Senarath Paranavithana, Sri Lanka’s pre-eminent archeologist and Historian) delightfully described as ‘warm as tea’.
The tourists are advised not to swim too close to waters at headland in view of currents.
Trincomalee harbor: swimming
Trincomalee harbor, in some places, has depths too deep for anchorage; and in some places, it is said to have unftahomabale depth. But then the opportunities abound for swimming and boat trips. Sober island, Dead Man’s Cove, Coral Cove, Back Bay, Marble Bay are some of the tourist attractions.
Trincomalee harbour’s picturesque Dutch Bay tends to suffer from a dangerous undertow. Caution ought to be practiced while swimming in Dutch Bay.
Pigeon Island: swimming, diving and snorkeling
Just off Nilaveli of Sri Lanka Holidays, lies the little rocky islet called Pigeon Island, one of the few places in the tropical island of Sri Lanka where the rare Blue Rock Pigeon, so common in South India, breeds. During the British colonial era (1815-1948), a significant population of Blue Rock Pigeons was shot dead by the British Royal Navy based at Trincomalee natural harbor. The hotels at the beaches of Trincomalee make arrangements on boat trips to the Pigeon Island for the tourists to enjoy in swimming and snorkeling in the shallow waters. The shallow waters around the island delight those who would like spear fishing.
Dive Operators at Trincomalee
All of the dive centers are located on the Nilaveli road. The Nilaveli beach is one of the most beautiful beaches available in Sri Lanka. Among the leading dive operators are Scuba Sri Lanka at the Nilaveli Beach Hotel, LSR Trincomalee at the Club Oceanic Hotel and Dive The Snake at Uppaveli on the Trinco Nilaveli Road.
Diving at Trincomalee is done in the period of April to October.
Distances to Trincomalee: from Colombo-257 km; from Kandy 182 km; from Anuradhapura 106 km; from Polonnaruwa 129 km; from Dambulla 106 km
To Trincomalee from Arugambay via Batticaloa and beaches of Kalkudah and Passekuda
Trincomalee of the north-eastern coast can be reached by A4 eastern coastal road from the south-eastern surf beach of Arugam Bay via lovely Passikudah beach and A15 main coastal road over the Koddiar bay at Kanniyai bridge, the longest bridge of Sri Lanka.
To Trincomalee from Habarana, a transportation hub of the Cultural triangle
Trincomalee can be reached from Habarana, a transportation hub of the Cultural triangle of Sri Lanka Holidays, passing the turn off for Kaudulla National Park and Agbopura from where the great Kantale rainwater reservoir. A turn off road to caost from Kantale town is the quickest land route to Seruwawila via Somapura which is the gateway to Somawathiya Chethiya National Park.
To Trincomalee from Anuradhapura
The A12 main road from the ancient Buddhist monastic city of Anuradhapura via the Mihintale mountain monastery (8 km northeast of which along the A9 main road, in the direction of Rambewa village is an ancient stone bridge on he Mhakandarawa rainwater reservoir), Horowupatana, Ratmale (gateway to at Tiriyaye, home to ancient Buddhist circular shrine vatadage). Just 8km before Trincomalee, this main road opens up a turn off to Kanniyai Hot Wells.
Trincomalee town: main peninsula
West of the ear-shaped strip of land that makes the Fort Fredrick, in the main peninsula is the commercial center of Trincomalee: colonial villas line a grid of streets; Buddhist temple, Islam Mosques, Hindu temps intersperse the backstreet; Banks, bus station and railway station close in the main streets. The old General Cemetery therein is final resting Place of Jane Austen’s brother, Charles, and the British railway administrator (Ceylon Government Railway –CGR) and amateur astronomer P.B. Molesworth, who discovered the Red Spot of Jupiter.
Trincomalee Harbor Vs. Town
The colonial seaport of Trincomalee was established solely in view of its strategic importance: while the location dominated the all important sea lanes between the Occident and the orient, the natural deep water harbor also made it possible to build a fort on the highest rocky out crop on a peninsula simply by building fortification on the land side.
The modern town of Madras (Chenni), Calcutta (Kolkata) and Bombay (Mumbai) of India each are anchored on their colonial roots. The development of these sea ports India in the British colonial era resulting in re-orientation and economy and geography of the respective regions. Trincomalee in Sri Lanka is a remarkable exception to the pattern that took flight during colonial era, perhaps that could be attributed to a combination of thin population, barren land and intemperate climate. The colonial harbor failed to bring about a development on the hinterland of Trincomalee, one of the numerous backwaters of the eastern coastal belt.
Today, the River Mahaweli Ganga diversification Project, following the completion of Victoria Dam irrigating the region inland of Trincomalee harbor, Trincomalee district has become an agricultural district.
Trincomalee town is built on the neck of a bold yet narrow peninsula between the Indian Ocean, which stretches between the inner and outer harbor. The town consists of edifices of ancient, colonial and modern times; a spit of a land pokes of the middle of the peninsula to the east somewhat in a shape of human ear occupied by the Portuguese fortress of Fort Frederick, which climb up to the cliff top called Swami Rock.
Fort Fredrick, today, is set up with barracks for the heroic defence forces of Sri Lanka, specialized in jungle guerrilla warfare spearheaded by smallest units battle-hardened in rapid and surprise assault: taking the guerilla warfare to guerillas themselves; turning the hunters into the hunted with advanced field recon.
Trincomalee town: Swami Rock
Fort Fredrick road that makes way from the main peninsula, through the fort leads up to the cliff top of Swami Rock also called “lover’s leap” which drops sharply about 130 meters to the Indian Ocean where the Koneswarm Kovil is located. The cliff top vantage point affords panoramic views of town and along the coast. Then again the view straight down the sheer cliff face to the deep-blue waters of the Indian Ocean is a sight to behold.
Trincomalee town: Swami Rock: Fort Fredrick: Wellington House
Wellington house located within the Fort Fredrick was the temporary residence of non other than the conquering hero of the British Field Marshal Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington (1769 –1852). In 1799, the Iron Duke stayed at Trincomalee in 1800 whilst recovering from an Illness. The Duke of Wellington on his way home to England was compelled to stay in Bombay (Mumbai) being struck down with a disease called “Malabar Itch” and the remedy of a course of lard and sulphur failing to kill the infection. The ship sailed off without him only to sink in the Gulf of Aden. Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington went onto become the Prime Minister of England under the Tory party in 1828 and again in 1834.
Trincomalee: the Deer connection
Trincomalee, in the ancient times, was also known by the name of Gokanna (Sanskrit: ear of the deer) possibly in view of the shape of the Trincomalee bay. Fort Fredrick is also the sanctuary to a herd of spotted deer at Trincomalee. Though the species of spotted deer is shy by nature, herein at Ford Fredrick, the herd mingles freely with the residents and visitors. The uncommon phenomenon has been in existence for centuries since the generations of villagers and soldiers refrained from hunting the deer in view of a taboo label attached to the herd. Today the herd of deer is under the protective eyes of heroic Sri Lanka Navy based at the Fort Fredrick.
Trincomalee town: Swami Rock: Fort Fredrick: Lover’s Leap
Just outside the temple at the highest point, the very edge of the rock is called Lover’s Leap in commemoration of a Dutch Lady by the name of Francina van Rhede, who leaped off the projecting crag of dizzy heights into the Indian Ocean to dash against the rocks to death, having rendered desperate by the scene of her lover leaving by a swift vessel with its sails spread, over an unfortunate dispute over the bride’s dowry with her father, a Dutch gentleman in the British government of Ceylon. What a priceless treasure of divine love, did he manage to disown over a marginal measure of earthly property?
Trincomalee town: Swami Rock: History
At the time of the Portuguese attack at Trincomalee in 1624, perched upon the rock was Sri Gokarna Vihara ancient Buddhist temple built in the reign of King Mahasen (276-303 AD) Sri Gokanna Vihara it was also called Vehera Gala (Sinhala: temple on the rock). Fernão de Queiros, the famous Portuguese historian had revealed of the demolition of a temple at the Fort Fredrick in his historical narrative titled Temporal and Spiritual conquest of Ceylon. According to Professor Nalin de Silva, Koneswaram Kovil was built only recently after dismantling the ancient Buddhist Temple at the same place. Good professor also declares that there were people who have seen the Buddhist temple in the forties.
Sinhalese historical chronicles reveal that Badda Kachchayana who later became the queen of King Panduwasdeva (505-474 B.C.) with her party of royal maidens landed in Siri Gonamala harbor. She was a sister of Prince Digha, the founder of Dighavapi. Queen Badda Kachchanaya gave birth to 9 sons and one daughter. It was prophesied that the daughter named Unmada Chitra (Sinhala: the maddening beauty) would give birth to a son who would usurp the throne by killing his uncle in a great battle. The destiny wouldn’t be denied: Prince Pandukahaya, the pioneering rainwater reservoir builder of Sri Lanka made the prophesy realized.
The colony at Trincomalee was established by Sinhalese King Gajabahu (113 – 125 AD), who sent the prisoners taken from the coramandal coast of India to district. King Aggabodhi V (718-724 AD) built a monastery and a sitting hall (asana sala) for monks in Trincomalee. In the wars of Parakramabahu 1 (1153-1186 AD it is said, fleets with powerful naval forces were directed to Ramanna and South India from Trincomalee. In these expeditions, he successfully invaded and conquered Ramanna, Pandya and Chola kingdoms.
Commonwealth War Cemetery north of Trincomalee
Directions to the cemetery
From the main A6 road, just south of the town of Trincomalee, turn left onto the North East Coast Road, also known as the Nilaveli Road. The cemetery is approximately 6 kilometers along this road on the right (eastern) side.
Commonwealth War Cemetery located north of Trincomalee on Nilaveli lives onto bring us the memories of those splendid young men who gave their lives at the Trincomalee to retain the modern civilization Germany’s Nazism, Italy’s Fascism and Japanese Bushido. The custodian of the cemetery keep precise records of graves of each and every one buried in. The caretaker treasures a photograph of Princess Ann of England planting a tree in the year 1995 to mark the replacement of several headstones damaged. Commonwealth War Cemetery at Trincomalee holds the graves of Allied servicemen killed by Japanese bombing of Trincomalee harbor in 1942.
Quote Commonwealth War Graves Commission
The cemetery was originally the Combined Services Cemetery, but was taken over by the Admiralty from the military authorities in April 1948 for use as a permanent naval cemetery. On the withdrawal of United Kingdom Forces from Ceylon it became the property of the Ceylon Government who has granted the Commonwealth War Graves Commission security of tenure in perpetuity. Save for a few post-war and non-war graves it is purely a war cemetery, and service war graves were transferred to it from Trincomalee (St. Mary) Churchyard; Trincomalee (St. Stephen’s) Cemetery, Kottadi Cemetery, Jaffna; and Vavuiyna Combined Cemetery. A special memorial commemorates a naval man buried in Trincomalee (St. Stephen’s) Cemetery whose grave could not be found. The non-war graves are those of men of the Merchant Navy whose death was not due to war service, and of civilians, of whom some were employees of the Admiralty; while the post-war graves were dependents of servicemen, civilian employees of the Admiralty and dependents of such employees.
Unquote Commonwealth War Graves Commission
The hot springs at Kanniyai
7 km away from of Trincomalee a branch road to the left off the Anuradhapura-Trincomalee road leads to the seven Kanniyai Hot Springs renowned for the therapeutic properties of hot water. Water is warm in all the seven springs with each having water at a temperature that varies from the others.
Velgam Vehere: Location
Velgam Vihara, 7km from Nilaveli can be reached by the access road off A12 to Anuradhapura past Kanniyai. On the road leading from Nilaveli to Velgam Vihara is a picturesque ancient rainwater reservoir now called Periyakulam, which is an ideal picnic spot although bathing isn’t recommended.
Velgam Vihara, today in ruins, was built in the 1st century AD. By the time King Nissankamalla (A.D. 1187 to 1196) ascended to the throne Velgam Vehera had become a great centre of pilgrimage so much so that the king had visited the holy shrine. The ruins are those of a stupa and an image house.
To quote Dr. Paranavithana “The fame of the religious establishment at this site was not confined to the immediate neighborhood. Nissanka Malla as recorded in the Pritidanaka – mandapa rock inscription at Polonnaruwa included Velgam Vehara among the sacred shrines to which he went on pilgrimage.
The other places mentioned in the same record being Mandalagiri, Mahagama, Devinuwara and Kelaniya. Thus it appears that in the 12th century, the shrine at Periyakulam viz. Velgam Vehera was considered as holy as those at Kaleniya and Devundera which today attract thousands of devotees. Velgam Vehera was built during the reign of Batiya Maharaja or King Bhatika Tissa II (circa 149 A.D.). An inscription on rock halfway up the hill that leads to the Velgam Vehera reveals that of gift of some fields of rice cultivation by a General named Abaya to Abagara Vihare (Abhagiri or Amaragiri Vihare) at Velgama. According to illustrious Dr. Senarath Parnavithana, Sri Lanka’s pre-eminent archeologist and historian the inscription refer to name of the Velgam Vehera Buddhist shrine by which it was known in the eleventh and twelfth centuries. Today, Velgam Vehera is left in a pile of ruins. The time is ripe for the restoration.
Mutur, South of Trincomalee Harbour and Robert Knox
At Mutur, under a tree is a stone memorial is atone memorial to Captain Robert Knox (1641–1720) of British East India Company. Captain Knox of the ship St. Ann and his son, also named Robert Knox were captured here by the officers of King Rajasingha the second in 1660. Trincomalee was a dominion of Kingdom of Kandy at the time of arrival of Portuguese in Sri Lanka in 1505 and as such Robert Knox was taken to the Sinhala King of Kandy. The treaty between the Sinhala government and the Dutch East India Company signed in 1766 A.C. supports the statement that Batticaloa and Trincomalee with the places appertaining thereto was included in the Kandyan provinces. Batticaloa was mentioned as Puliyanduwa and Trincomalee as Thirikunamala in the treaty.
Captain Robert Knox died in the early years of captivity. Captain Knox’s son, also named Robert Knox was held in relative captivity within the Kandyan dominions for a couple of decade. Being held far from the conventional sense of captivity for nineteen years, Knox, making use of the freedom to roam the provinces of Kandy, Robert Knox eventually trekked his way out the natural fortress of Kandy, over the rings of guarded hills across the rivers with Stephen Rutland. The two men were able to reach Arippu, a Dutch fort on the north-west coast of the island. The Dutch at Mannar, Ceylon treated Knox generously and transported him to the Dutch maritime stronghold Batavia (now Jakarta) in the Dutch East Indies, from where he was able to return home on an English vessel, the Caesar to London in September 1680, to give the modern world such an absorbing and interesting account of the medieval Kandyan kingdom of Sri Lanka by virtue of everything he has seen, observed, lived through and gone through during the 20 years of captivity in Sri Lanka, titled “An historical Relation of Ceylon.”
Today Sri Lanka Holidays rejoice his great escape from the natural fortress of Kandy.
Knox, together with Alexander Selkirk (1676 –1721), a Scottish sailor, who had spent four years as a castaway on an uninhabited island at the archipelago of Juan Fernández off the coast of Chile, was said to have provided the inspiration for Daniel Defoe’s novel Robinson Crusoe.
Kokkilai Lagoon north of Trincomalee
At the Kokkilai village located 50 km north of Trincomalee is the vast and shallow Kokkilai Lagoon is a paradise of the bird watchers. The shallows herein at the lagoon attract a wide variety of waders; wild duck and wild pelican are quite common; but the pride of the lagoon goes to the flamingoes. Flamingoes in such large numbers aren’t seen another wildlife sanctuaries of Sri Lanka with the exception of Bundala Bird Sanctuary. Peddling a rubber dingy is the ideal way to engage in exploring the Kokkilai sanctuary.
Trincomalee Bay Harbor: modern history
Trincomalee bay, with 53 km of shoreline, one of the largest, best sheltered and finest natural harbors in the world, was of great importance owing to its all-season security. Between 1617 and 1795 Trincomalee Bay changed hands between the Dutch, the Sinhalese king reigning at the medieval royal city of Kandy, the Dutch, French, Dutch, British, French, Dutch and British.
Fort Fredrick at Trincomalee built by Portuguese in 1624 was captured by a Dutch fleet lead by Admiral Westerwold in 1639. In 1665 a new fort was built at Trincomalee by the Dutch to defend against the onslaught of the British and the French. In 1672, when Holland was attacked by France, Britain, and two German states, the French captured Trincomalee and later they occupied Batticaloa. However soon the French fleet was evicted out of Trincomalee by the Dutch.
In late 18th century Trincomalee traded hands once more with the French capturing it again and later handing back to the VOC following the Peace of Paris in 1784. In 1795, Trincomalee taken over by the British, remained a British garrison fort and sea-port till the independence of Ceylon in 1948. Fort Ostenburg, a small fort built at the entrance to the inner harbor of Trincomalee by the Dutch and surrendered to the British 1795. It has been known as “the most powerfully gunned fort in Ceylon” with strong batteries at sea level and many guns on the ridge above them. However little of it remains today, mainly due to the contraction of Coastal artillery placements by the British since the 1920 in the Ostenburg ridge. Much of these are well preserved by the heroic Navy of Sri Lanka, which maintains the Hoods Tower Museum therein.
Trincomalee harbor during the First World War and Second World War
Coastal artillery guns were mounted during periods of the First World War and then again during the Second World War. Today it remains garrisoned by a detachment of the Sri Lanka Army but is accessible to visitors.
With steam engine powered ocean going vessels replacing the sail ships since the late 19th century, the requirement of harbors that could provide anchorage to larger naval ships emerged. Trincomalee, in the Bay of Bengal and the Indian Ocean, became the sea port location of South East Asia Command- Air Force and Naval- of the British Royal Navy during the Second World War. Allied forces in Asia set Trincomalee up as major strategic harbor for Australasia and Pacific. Japanese air raid in April 1942, destroyed five Blenheim bombers, aircraft carrier HMS Hermes and the destroyer Vampire and corvette HMS Hollyhock were sunk off Kalkudha and Passekudah bay beaches of Sri Lanka Holidays to the south Seruwawila Royal Buddhist Temple south of Trincomalee.
Trinconamala or Trincomalee ancient history
Trincomalee was known by the names of Gokanna, Sri Gokanna, Sri Gonapura, Siri Gonamala, Gonamala Pattana, Gonagama-patuna and Gokannatitta during the periods of Sinhala Kings reigned at Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa. The present Sinhala name Tirikunamala is derived from Siri Gonamala.
The earliest records made in the historical chronicles of Sri Lanka on Trincomalee refer to Gokarna, as the ancient sea-port town where Prince Panduvasudeva, King Vijya’s nephew sailed into Sri Lanka from Sinhapura, India. Also recorded is that Trincomalee was the sea-port Princess Bhadda Kacchana, who was to become the queen of King Panduvas Dev (505-474 BC), arrive with her party of Royal maidens. Princess Bhadda Kachchana was a sister of Prince Diga, the founder of Dighawapi. The city of Tincomalee was to serve as a major conduit for Sri Lanka’s seaborne trade during the glorious eras of Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa.
Vehera Gala (Sinhala: Buddhist temple on a rock) of Sri Lanka Holidays was the most ancient Buddhist edifice at Trincomalee. It was built by King Mahasen (276-303 AD), the builder of Minneriya tank (see Minneriya Wild life Park) and numerous other great rainwater reservoirs.
Trincomalee had been home to numerous Buddhist temples and Vihara (Monasteries) since the reign of King Mahasen (275-301 AD) built by King Mahasen (275-301 AD) was expanded by King Agbo V (718-724 AD) and was demolished by the Portuguese to build a fortress in the 16th century. Gokarna Vihare is one of the 74 Buddhist sites identified by the Department of Archeology of Sri Lanka. Triyaya, Weligam Vehera and Seruwila Raja Maha Vihara and Kuchchaveli are three living Buddhist heritage sites of the Trincomalee district.
An inscription found close to stone doorway of Colonial Ford Fredrick reveals of an arrival of Prince by the name of Codagama deva at the sea port of Gokkana (Trincomalee today) of unconquerable Lanka in 1223 AD.
Seruwawila Raja maha Viagra (Sinhala: Seruwawila Royal Buddhist Temple) located close to ancient man-made rainwater reservoir, was built by King Kavantissa of Ruhuna Kingdom, the father of the Hero of the Nation King Dutugamunu, in a diplomatic and religious maneuver to establish his authority over the prince at the ancient city of Seru in the second century AD. The ancient chronicles reveal Buddha’s frontal bone relic is enshrined at the small restored dagoba stupa.
Trincomalee town: Swami Rock: Koneswaram Kovil and Sri Gokanna Vihara Buddhist Temple (Vehere Gala)
According to much publicized view, there was a Hindu Kovil on the Swami Rock in the year 1624. It is also said that the most sanctified object of the Hindu Kovil, the phallic symbol of Shiva, was toppled over the cliffs into the depth of the Indian Ocean by the Portuguese. The Hindu rock was rebuilt yet ancient Buddhist temple wasn’t. Bandu de Silva points out that the sanctity of Koneswaram temple is based on mere folklore rather than proven historical facts. There is a belief the three Buddhist temples that stood on the hill over looking the Trincomalee harbor was demolished by the Portuguese and the building materials were used to build the fortress.
Trinconamala, Swayambahu linga, God Skanda and 2001 Space Odyssey
The accidental retrieval of Shiva symbol from the seabed of Trincomalee was narrated by Arthur C. Clarke in his book Reefs of Taprobane. While filming the Sinhala movie, Ran Mutu Duwa (Sinhala: Golden Pearl Island) (1962), Mike Wilson made the most fortunate discovery of Swayambhuwa Linga (a natural stone obelisk- self bodied regenerative organ, the symbol of Hindu God Shiva), one of the 69 authentic stone carved Siva Lingam artifacts whose antiquity runs into half a decade of millenniums. Such a discovery, not to mention the discovery of sunken treasure (Boby Kriegal, Mark Smith ) at the Great basses 8 miles off the beach of Kirinda in 1961 would have made any other mortal content for the rest of his lifetime; but not indomitable Mike Wilson.
The discovery of Swayambahu linga resulted in Mike Wilson renunciating his family. “It changed me completely. It was diksha (initiation) and darshan (divine vision) all in one. I understood something, how I had spent many lives here in Sri Lanka already, how this was not my first. I was prompted to go to Kataragama. One needs a place to sit and ponder; that place for me was Kataragama” Mike Wilson, an ex-Royal Navy scuba diver in an interview in the Sunday Times, 18th November, 1990. It is also said that the discovery of the holy object had provided Mike Wilson and Arthur C. Clarke with the core concept that later bore fruit in Stanley Kubrick’s (1928 – 1999) classic science fiction movie 2001: A Space Odyssey, which was ranked among the top ten films of all time by 2002 “Sight & Sound” poll of critics. However, this claim was vehemently denied by Arthur C. Clarke.
Then again, in the great classic film, “Hal”, who runs most of spacecraft Discovery’s operations being disconnected, ends with a shot of endless voyage of no set direction into the space and the final frame of a new born baby implying birth death and rebirth, the regeneration. Or at least that’s how my father Baminahennadige Donald Benedict Peiris of Lakshaptiya, Moratuwa of Sri Lanka Holidays explained in response to my question of the meaning of the infant at the end of the film. We were simply stepping out of Majestic Cinema, Bambalapitiya, Colombo and I bombarded my father with questions. I am bunpeiris. Another couple of decades later his reply created a century of questions in me: Who are we? What is our purpose? From where did we come? Where are we going? Where will the science and technology take us? Who else are there in the universe? What is their purpose? If they are highly advanced why no contact was made with us, no help extended? Why does the almighty give and take back? Are they laughing at us holding their brace bones? We, such a fickle, frail, feeble species, imagine we are made in the image of god. Such arrogance! Such stupidity!
Mike Wilson on Swayambhuwa Linga: “one is aware of its enormous antiquity. And one’s mind is able to soar back to the distant past and see all those who have sat there before.”
Having restored Swayambhuwa Linga to where it belonged, Koneshwaram Kovil at Trincomalee, Mike Wilson settled down at the sacred city of Kataragama of Sri Lanka Holidays to become an ascetic in search of God Skanda of Kataragama. Mike Wilson wasn’t the only one to connect Trincomalee and Kataragama in search of spiritual conquest. The historical chronicles of Sri Lanka reveals Prince Manawamma, son the King Kashayapa the second (652-661 AD) found sanctuary in Trincomalee to chant powerful Mantra seeking benefaction of God Skanda at Kataragama to defeat the marauding Dravidian invaders from South India. Since King Manawamma reigned for 35 years (691-726 AD) at Anuradhapura, it can be deduced that homage to God Skanda of Kataragama bore fruit to the fullest.
However, it hasn’t been recorded that whether God Skanda ever made a divine appearance upon good old Mike Wilson, who began to be known by the name of Swami Siva Kalki, the human being. One of the few humans who had ever made a credible record, albeit a marginal comment, of an appearance by God Skanda is most illustrious Buddhist scholar monk Balangoda Ananda Mathriya Maha Nayaka Thero (1896- 1998) who had attained a lower level of spirituality, one of the stepping stone to the supreme enlightenment in the mode of gradual elevation.
Sunday Times, 18th November, 1990 narrates. When asked on the reaction of the Brahmins at the Koneshwaram Kovil to his discovery, Mike Wilson said with regret, “I’m afraid they had mixed feelings. They finally stated that this wasn’t the genuine lingo. Naturally I was outraged but later delivered it to the Koneswaram Temple.”
Wasn’t Swayambahu linga discovered by Mike Wilson endowed with the regular shape and features for the Brahmins to suffer mixed feelings?
The whole Trincomalee Koneswaram affair sinks in the murky waters shrouded in grey mist: the existence of a Hindu Kovil in 1624 isn’t substantiated; Swayambahu linga discovered by Mike Wilson in 1962 isn’t authenticated. Furthermore, none of the 1000 pillars of the so called “The Temple of thousand Columns” was ever discovered unlike the colossal cluster of 1600 stone pillars (preserved ruins) of the Loha Maha Prasada (Sinhala: Brazen Palace) (narrated in the great Sinhalese historical chronicle of Mahawamsa) of Sri Lanka Holidays Anuradhapura built by “The Hero of the Nation”, King Dutugamunu (161-137 BC) that exists to date.