The world's largest natural harbour
"A gentle breeze"
Trincomalee has been here a long time, but English traders discovered in 1666 for the first time. They became the forced guests of the local ruler and remained for 16 years before escaping. Since then, it has been owned by the French, Dutch, Portugese and again by the British until independence in 1947.
During the past twenty years, the area has suffered badly, and then there was the tsunami just as hope of growth and properity was being nurtured again. Reconstruction has progressed well and there are many hotels and guests houses available for tourists. There is nothing finer than sitting in the shade with a gentle breeze, sipping black tea and sorting out the world's problems.
There is lots of it. Sri Lanka is one of the few places where wild elephants still roam.
Many of the roads were washed away by the tsunami. Some have disappeared all together. The effect on rebirth and growth has been disastrous.
A bit different...
Looking for a slightly different flavour of Sri Lanka to that of the villages of the south coast and the tea estates of the hills? Until very recently, Trincomalee and the east coast of Sri Lanka was out of bounds to tourists. War-ravaged for the best part of twenty years, any kind of tourist infrastructure was destroyed and the region was cut off from the rest of the country, becoming a chessboard for the tactical (and very bloody) games of the military and the LTTE rebels. Not just closed to tourists, very few Sri Lankans have actually been to Trinco, as it's affectionately referred to.
However, the current peace process has opened it up again and tourists (both foreign and Sri Lankan) are flooding back. A military presence remains and trouble does still occasionally flare - the LTTE may not be mounting all out offensives anymore but they still have a hand in political assassinations and public rioting. But growing numbers of people think the charismatic town and the stunning, unspoilt beaches are worth a visit. And besides, tourists are extremely unlikely to encounter any problems.
Those great beaches are a bit of a mixed blessing for tourists. In their rush to get to Nilaveli up the coast, many ignore Trinco itself - which personally I think is the area's key asset. What they miss out on is a sleepy fishing town with tons of character and very friendly people.
Trinco is most famous for its bay, routinely described by people who know about these things as one of the world's finest deep-water natural harbours. This of course attracted the interests of various colonial powers (and the Americans today if you believe the rumours in Colombo). It was a key British naval base in World War 2. But despite this, Trinco is far from your stereotypical port town - it feels more like a small village.
There are still plenty of bombed out buildings and walls riddled with bullet holes all around town, but Trinco certainly doesn't resemble a war zone and there are even a few genuine tourist attractions, the main one being Swami Rock Temple (Koneswaram Kovil). The people are a mix of Tamils, Sinhalese and Muslims - and despite the horrific recent history most live, work and socialise together and get along just fine. Trincomalee offers something a bit different to most of Sri Lanka's towns and I found it quite uplifting as well as interesting and attractive. It's quite a trek from Colombo but it's definitely worth it.
Just visited Trinco after wanting to go there for years, but could not visit while the war was on. It's the 5th biggest natural harbour in the world and although quite run down and army everywhere, it has big potential. We visited the Hindu Temple and also Swami Rock (Lovers Leap) - The fort is amazing.
Trincomalee - natural harbour
Trincomalee is a natural deep-water harbor, on the north-east coast of Sri Lanka. On the east side of the town of Trincomalee, on a cliff known as Swami Rock stands one of the oldest Kovils (Hindu temple) in Sri Lanka. The present day Tirukonesvaram Kovil was rebuilt on the site of the Dakshana Kailayam (temple of 100 pillars) - that was destroyed by the Portugese in the 17th century. The restoration work was completed in the 1960's, and it is a "must see" site, for the visitors to Trincomalee. Friday evening Puja (offerings) services are specially colorful.
Travelling by land and by sea
This is the vehicle ferry by China Bay. There two ferries; one rated at 1 tonne and one rated at 5 tonnes. They take about 20 minutes to do the crossing.
Tuc tucs, so called because the noise of their two stroke engine, are the work horse of travel. They are cheap and readily available all over Sri Lanka. If it rains, the sides are closed, but they are not very effective and it gets very humid very quickly. Hopefuly, they will be converted soon to L:PG as in other countries to reduce pollution.
This ferry was operated by manpower, pulling on a rope. Hard work on the hands and arms.
"Ferry? What ferry?"
Just upstream from the last photo, and there is no charge for the ferry!
It looks idyllic, sorting out the nets in the shade of the trees, but it is for real and the stocks are being overfished. There is a need for more and larger day boats so the fishermen can travel further to get bigger and better fish, but all the NGO's are supplying the smaller type of boat, such as this one here, because that is the type that was destroyed.
"After the tsunami"
The roads were destroyed and here is the temporary solution. Poor communications are a great hindrance to relief and reconstruction.