Trincomalee is a principal port city on the east coast of Sri Lanka. A peninsula divides the inner and outer harbours. The famous Koneswaram and Bhadrakali Amman Temples are in Trincomalee. There is a ferry service to Jaffna from the port.
Gold, silver and pearls
The history of Trincomalee spans over two and a half thousand years, making it one of the oldest cities in Asia. Early settlers found that the Mahavilli Ganga River which runs through the region produced gold and pearls and silver mining took place in the hills above the bay. At one time, the port was a vibrant and prosperous city. Additionally, since ancient times, the town continued to serve as a significant international trading seaport for Sri Lanka. Through the ages, the port was the capital of several Sri Lankan kingdoms during various ancient dynasties.
When the Portuguese conquered the Jaffna kingdom, they began to fortify the town. Later, in 1620, the Danish conquest led to further urbanisation. Over the next century, the Dutch, then the French and finally the British controlled the port. Trincomalee became part of the British Ceylon state in 1815.
The local architecture depicts a mixture of native and European colonial style, notably including the largest Dutch fort on the island. However, there has been a lot of damage over the years due to conflict. The Japanese attacked the town during World War II. After the war in 1948, Sri Lanka gained independence. The sensitive relationship between the Tamil and Sinhalese people deteriorated leading to a 26-year long civil war.
Locals also refer to the port as Gokanna. In Sanskrit, Trincomalee Bay Harbour means “Cow’s Ear”, akin to other areas of Siva worship in India. The city has sacred status to both Tamils and Hindus. Patañjali, the legendary Hindu who compiled the Yoga Sutras, was born at the temple at Trincomalee.
The finest harbour in the world
The circular, natural harbour is one of the best and most protected throughout the Indian Ocean. The bay is accessible in all weathers to all types of craft. Descriptions of the bay include “The finest harbour in the world”. The British called the harbour “The most valuable colonial possession on the globe, giving to our Indian Empire security which it had not enjoyed from elsewhere”.
Now Trincomalee is a popular tourist destination as well as being a brilliant port for sailing and shipping. The beaches at Uppuveli, Salli and Nilaveli, offer surfing, scuba diving, fishing and whale watching. Also, tourists flock to the ancient temples and the Kanniya Hot Springs.
Trincomalee features a tropical wet and dry climate. The dry season runs from March through to June. The wet season can last for the remainder of the year. However, it often rains hard but just for an hour or so early in the morning and then is hot and dry for the rest of the day. The town has an average of 62 inches of rain each year. Temperatures range from around 26°C to 30 °C throughout the year.