Trinco or Gokana

Trincomalee, Eastern Province, Sri Lanka

Trincomalee (Trinco) is blessed with one of the largest, natural deep-water harbours in the world, which was the envy of past conquerors from the Danes, Portuguese, Dutch, British and French to, more recently, the Japanese. Earlier, Gokana, as it was originally known, served as a major conduit for the island’s seaborne trade during the Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa periods. The town suffered greatly from the outbreak of the recent civil war in 1983 and remained a virtual ‘no-go’ area until 2007 when the Tamil Tigers, or more correctly, the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), were expelled from the eastern region of the country. Although Trincomalee avoided the massive bomb attacks inflicted on Jaffna, Colombo and other areas, tensions between the town’s inhabitants of Tamils, Sinhalese and Muslims often erupted into communal violence, exacerbated by the influx of war-weary refugees. Thankfully today, Trincomalee is a peaceful and tranquil backwater with a relaxed ambience, looking forward to a positive future.

Fort Frederick, on the eastern side of Trincomalee town, is a 17th century Portuguese-built bastion and a stalwart of the city’s defences, and the old fortifications can still be seen today. Magnificent views and legends of ‘Lover’s Leap’ surround Swami Rock, a sheer drop of 100 metres to the crashing waves below, and the imposing Koneswaram Kovil, one of the five most holy Shaivite temples on the island, atop the rock still attracts devotees to its vibrant pujas. China Bay, the extensive inlet to the south of Trincomalee, has been a naval base since time immemorial and, since peace was declared in 2009, it has been open to visitors. There is an impressive range of war equipment outdoors plus small indoor museum areas.

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Explore the East and areas near Trincomalee.

“The highlights for us must be the white-water rafting [Kitulgala], which was amazing, and then our first sighting of wild elephants, which is something really quite magical and an experience we will never forget. The whole country is so very diverse and the people are warm and friendly and really did seem to care that we had a good time.”

Clare & Maureen