In true fashion of the era, there are bastions on the four corners of the fort. The lagoon borders on the north and east with a moat on the west and part of the south sides. Cannons were originally mounted in the bastions, though today there are pillboxes mounted by the Sri Lankan Army.see this website for much more on the history of recent...more
This was the main reason for the town’s importance, the fort. Superceding an earlier Portugese fort, the fort became the center of Dutch power along this part of the coast. From both this fort and the earlier Portugese, the unique colonies of Batticaloa Burgher evolved - see the website below. The emblem of the Dutch East Indies Company is still...more
We had fine simple meals at the Co-op Inn. Rice is the matrix for everything. In the morning we were given fried egg sandwiches which were called omletes. Be patient with the food for whatever they are cooking, it is going to take awhile to make.
Favorite Dish: Don't forget the sambal to add on top of everything else.
Poor old Batti has had it hard and it shows but that's what makes it strangely attractive. I don’t know the town well, we stopped for lunch in August 2007 after a far too short visit to wonderful Passikuda Beach. We had a quick look round and moved on but I am looking forward to going back, hopefully later this year and I would like to stay a little longer.
For years Batti was in LTTE hands, there's no doubt that the Government is in control these days but it can still feel like it's under siege, the locals wear khaki and the only white faces you see are NGO workers.
I like this part of the world. Okay, it’s been battered by bombs, bullets and a tsunami, it gets heavy at times and travelling around can be difficult because of bad roads and numerous check points. Very little of the wealth which has trickled down the west coast and settled in the south in recent years appears to have found its way over here and it could do with some investment in the infrastructure but apart from the neglect and the fighting (which rarely affects a foreigner unless we do something stupid) in a strange way this side of the island is pretty much unspoiled.
For years warnings against travel to this part of the island have kept people away so tourists are rare and when local people get over the intial shock of meeing a European who is just an ordinary tourist (and not an NGO) they seem genuinely happy to see you. The largely Muslim population in the Coastal Towns south of Batti were incredibly friendly helpful, even when they knew I wasn't much of a business opportunity.
I love the east coast terrain, it’s exciting, Batti feels like an island to me, with its causeways and bridges. The army are everywhere but like the local people even the army seemed glad to see us once they realised we were simply travellers. Bored kids with rifles, stuck behind barbed wire, missing their villages and girlfriends, they were happy to talk to anyone from outside and honestly grateful for the cigarettes, sweets and magazines we were carrying.
I wanted to go back in January and spend some time in Batti before heading down to Ampara for New Year but things kicked off so we went west of the Hill Country and in from the Monaragala side instead, which was a mistake because the trouble was heading south. A dangerous encounter with some heavily armed young men (who put a semi automatic to our driver's head) and endless rain made me change my plans.
But maybe my Favorite Thing About Batticaloa is that it doesn’t have a McDonalds (yet!).
Fondest memory: The east still feels occasionally lawless in parts and straying too far off the beaten track after dark is not always a good idea but foreign travel is about seeing different places and experiencing different cultures and for all its sins the east is certainly different, which increasingly can't be said about the west.
Travelling in Eastern Sri Lanka is exciting, sometimes a little too exciting but get through the 'securitity zones' and some of the best beaches in Sri Lanka are over here, you have them more or less to yourself and during the European summer (when the south west monsoon hits the main tourist resort) the best weather is over be here too.
Finding reasonable accommodation was a problem, most places had given up (takes sheets and a net) however, some of the most wonderful beaches on the planet are stood empty, the sun rise can take your breath away and visitors are so welcome that even the fish sing at you.
Is it worth the risk? That's up to you.