Trincomalee - Sril Lanka's holiest Shiva shrine and best natural harbour
Trincomalee, also known under the acronym Trinco, is a coastal town of historic importance, since it has the very best natural harbour at the Gulf of Bengal. It’s the port of Gokanna known from Sri Lanka’s ancient chronicles and was fiercely contestet between various colonial powers, the Portuguese and Danish and Dutch and French and British. For traveller’s, the main attractions are situated on a headland to the east, namely Fort Frederick from the Dutch colonial period and, at the tip of the same outcrop known as Swami rock, Sri Lanka’s most revered Hindu shrine. The Konneshvaram temple is one of the five Ishvarams which are the most sacred Shiva temples in Southern India and Sri Lanka, all of them not situated on the subcontinent’s mainland. The original medieval Konneshvaram temple was destroyed by Portuguese Christians. It was rebuilt in the typical gaudily colourful style of Tamil temples. The beaches in the surroundings of Trincomalee have become popular tourist destinations. Trincomalee is also the starting point for whale watching tours at Sri Lanka’s northeastern coast.
Location and Significance of Trincomalee
Trincomalee at Sri Lanka‘s East coast is located 266 km northeast of Colombo and 235 km southeast from Jaffna by road. The distance from Habarana, which is in the very centre of Sri Lanka‘s Cultural Triangle, is 85 km.
Trincomalee, also known by the acronym „Trinco“, is not the largest town at Sri Lanka‘s East Coast, that‘s Kalmunai. But Trincomalee is the capital of the Eastern Province and definitely the historically most important town in the east. The reason for the strategic significance is the natural harbour. Admiral Nelson claimed it to be the best one in the entire world. The reason it not only the wideness of the protected bay which opens only to the south, but also several narrow creeks as perfect landing places. During the period of sailboats, the prevailing wind directions and the faciltity to reach the harbour safely and quickly, also played a major role for appraising the quality of a harbour. Due to the lack of good natural harbours along the eastern coastline of India, Trincomalee was a kind of gateway to the Gulf of Bengal and contested by the Sinhalese and the Tamil and the Portuguese and the Dutch and the Danish and the French and, last not least, the British. Today, Trincomalee is still Sri Lanka‘s most important naval base and has a large airforce base, too.