Trincomalee has been Sri Lanka’s rime gateway to the outside worlds of Asia and the Middle East since the island’s early history, and its magnificent natural harbor inevitably drew the attention of the first modern European navigators, who arrived in the 17th century. Occupied successively by the Portuguese, the Dutch, the French and the British during the centuries that followed, by 1795 it had become one of the British Empire’s key seaports. Admiral Lord Nelson praised its harbor, Sir Arthur Wellesley sojourned here, and during World War 2 it was the headquarters of Lord Mountbatten, commander-in-chief of the Allied forces in Southeast Asia.
Few of Trincomalee’s pre-colonial buildings survived successive conquests, but the architecture of the older parts of the city-especially the area around inner Harbor-retains a colonial feel, while fort Frederick, on a promontory jutting northward between Back Bay and Dutch Bay on the city’s east shore, is a visible reminder of British imperial power in its heyday. The harbor continued to be a major British naval base for almost years after Sri Lanka gained independence in 1948.
This still-formidable stronghold was founded by the Portuguese in 1623, and then became part of a game of colonial pass-the-parcel which lasted more than 170 years. The Dutch seized it in 1639, then lost it to the French in 1782, but the French regained it almost immediately, only to hand it back in 1783 under one of the truces that interrupted the almost constant 18th – and 19th-century wars between Britain and France. The British retain it to Dutch rule, but in 1795 Britain once again turfed the Dutch out, this time permanently.
On the highest tip of the Fort Frederick peninsula, the modern Thirukonesvaram Kovil is dedicated to Lord Siva and is one of Sri Lanka’s most important Hindu shrines. The original temple here was demolished by the Portuguese, but the precinct now houses one of its stone columns and an ancient lingam recovered from the sea bed by underwater archaeologist Mike Wilson.
Kali and Pillaiyar Kovils
West of Fort Frederick’s main gate, the Esplanade is another relic of British rule. A broad triangle of parched grass, it encloses a 19th-sentury cemetery. Across Dockyard Road, near the north-western tip of the triangle, two colorful Hindu temples, the Kali kovil and the smaller Pillaiyar kovil, stand side by side, both embellished with gaudy tiers of statuary.
Nilaveli has the best beach in the region. Sooner and later this 4km stretch of sand is bound to attract full-scale tourism, but for now it is still a haven for those willing to forgo luxury for peace and quiet. Pigeon Island, just offshore, is a breeding place for the rare blue rock pigeon. Its formerly spectacular coral reef has been severely damaged by climate change and human activity but still offers good inshore snorkeling.
Whale & Dolphin Watching
Following the recent development of Whale Watching Tours in Mirissa, Trincomalee is rapidly emerging as another internationally important whale-watching destination. Blue whales in particular (plus smaller numbers of sperm whales) can regularly be seen around six to eight nautical miles east of Trincomalee (about 30min by boat), Dolphins are also regularly seen. Most sightings occur between March/April and August/September, as whales continue their migrations around the island from the south coast (where they mainly congregate from December to April) – this means that Sri Lanka offers around ten months of continuous whale-watching annually at different points around the coast.
Pigeon Island is located around 1 km away from the Nilaveli beach. This is consists of two islands, one is small and other one is larger in size. This is one of the best places to see corals.
This island got its name because of the Rock Pigeons live over there. In year 2003 Pigeon Island was designated as a nation park in Sri Lanka. Earlier it was a sanctuary. This island was used by British army as a place for shooting practice in early world war time.