5 ways to enhance your Trincomalee experience

Saturday, 8 November 2014 00:00 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

It’s widely known that Trincomalee contains possibly the most immaculate enclave of beaches of Mother Lanka, propelled by which the city functioned as a primary maritime hub for international seaport trading. But did you know that it is one of the oldest cities of Asia where the colourful history of this amazing city dates back well over 2,500 years? Here are some lesser-known, nevertheless captivating, facts about the city;  
  •  Trincomalee was attacked during World War II by the Japanese

  •  The city boasts of possessing the largest Dutch fort of Sri Lanka

  •  The renowned Trincomalee Harbour, which is naturally formed in a circular shape, is called the ‘Lord’s Cheek’. Apparently it resembles the cheek shape of Shiva’s Bull, while its crown is arched towards the north.

  •  In 1956 the underwater ruins of the renowned Koneswaram Temple were discovered by Sir Arthur C. Clarke while pursuing his passion of scuba diving

  •  On a more poetic note, Trincomalee actually managed to inspire some of today’s poetic and literary greats, whereby Sir Arthur C. Clarke himself illustrates the city and its ruins in ‘Reefs of Taprobane,’ who then penned his experience of this city in ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’. The humble city was also featured multiple times, in Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s ‘Sherlock Holmes’.

So it clearly needs not much fanfare. Hence here are five ways to further enrich the experience of this enchanting city.  

Pigeon Island

A little piece of Maldives is at best how I’d describe the mystical Pigeon Island. A short boat ride from the Nilaveli Beach took us to what was one of the most fascinating places of Lanka. The virgin island looked so refreshing with its sandy white beaches against the scenic green backdrop. Such a warm welcome did we not anticipate as we stepped out from the boat onto the shallow water inhabited by an array of aquatic minions. Once landed on Pigeon Island, for a moment we forgot that we were truly still in the shores of Sri Lanka. For miles and miles and miles there’s just aquatic infinity – lovely blue crystal clear water, quite unlike what we’ve seen in any other part of Sri Lanka. And just a short walk, you end up on the other side of the Island where the fun beckons. On that clear, bright sun-shiny day we were amazed to see the gamut of local tourists flocking to get a taste of snorkelling! And what did we find upon diving beneath those glistening shallow waters? Well you just got to make that trip to find out!  

Trincomalee War Cemetery

For those of us who’ve grown up in little Lanka, the only scenic cemeteries we’ve seen are the ones featured in those ‘foreign’ movies, right? Well, not quite. Driving down quite blissfully on a warm breezy day along the streets of Trincomalee, my eyes gazed on this absolutely stunning little cemetery. Sitting by the roadside, it appeared to have been uprooted out of a Hollywood flick and propped on this bizarre little eastern town of Lanka. Upon investigating a little I was told that this was indeed the British War Cemetery erected for the British soldiers who passed away during World War II. It is well-kept-up by the Ministry of Defence as appointed by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, thus explaining the scenic ambiance of the property! Furthermore I was also quite intrigued to find out that Jane Austen’s sibling, Charles Austen, is among the British soldiers who call this scenic property their final resting place, having passed away while serving in the British Royal Navy. So the next time you’re driving down the Trincomalee-Nilaveli Road, watch out for this petite garden of remembrance found around 7km off the north of Trincomalee.  

Trincomalee Naval Museum

It was truly unreal to visit such a monumental site that was loaded with such overwhelming yet rather devastating history. What we learnt was that its home to ‘The Hoods Tower Museum’ that derived its name from the watchtower perched on a hill boasting of 360-degree view spanning the harbour and pretty much the entire city. The exhibits themselves are quite fascinating and way too many to pen down. There’s artillery and weaponry dating back to World War II. While the majority of the museum is contained at ground level, you can also make way to the somewhat-eerie underground basements. You have to experience it firsthand, for this mere second-hand narration doesn’t do justice to the captivating history encapsulated within this awe-inspiring historical edifice.  

Harbour cruise

It may not measure up to the customary cruise experience one is accustomed to, but for the Rs. 100 spent, it’s well worth the money! Acclaimed to be the second largest ‘natural’ harbour in the world, the Trincomalee Harbour is perched adjoining scenic highlands while its entry point is secured by two headlands. The Sri Lanka Ports Authority says that it contains 10 times the volume of the Colombo Harbour! Accompanied by smartly dressed Naval Officers who swiftly escorted us to the edge of the jetty, we were provided with life jackets before we got on to the well-covered speed boat. From ship wrecks to larger-than-life vessels docked at the harbour to getting an up-close-and-personal view of a cement manufacturing plant smack-bang in the middle of the ocean, the harbour cruise offered a rather fascinating experience. There are dedicated times that the Harbour cruises are made available so you have to plan it a little in advance. Needless to say it would have been a shame had we not taken the time to enjoy this once-in-a-lifetime experience.  

Beach chalet at Chaaya Blu

Presenting an array of hotels, villas and exotic resorts, Trincomalee is now blessed with unending accommodation options to suit the versatile travellers frequenting the city. Hence it is only but fitting to luxuriate in a picture-perfect setting that honours one of the best beaches of Sri Lanka. It is for that simple reason that the Chaaya Blu is worthy of praise and elevates the Trincomalee experience to another level. The hotel in itself is inviting and so is the lounge from which overlooks what appears to be (because it’s not) an infinity pool hugging the beach. The food was excellent and the seafood, exotic! But it’s honestly none of that which accounted for the hotel to be cited in this review. It’s quite simply the beach chalet that made me roar with praise. The in-room amenities and the ambiance were up to the expected four-star standard with a vibrant dash of orange harmonising the lovely aquatic blue interiors. But upon stepping out through the crystal glass doors, I succumbed to the inviting aroma of the virgin beach of Trincomalee. A secluded, unspoiled beach literally few feet from my chalet – now that is what I call an authentic beach chalet! Furthermore, for us from the west coast, I doubt there’s a better place in the east coast that would offer the panoramic view of the sunrise as did the Chaaya Blu beach chalet that really does kiss the virgin beach of Trincomalee. (Trekurious together with DailyFT explores Sri Lanka for the curious traveller. Trekurious works with talented individuals and great brands to create amazing experiential tours, activities, and events in Sri Lanka. You can find out more at www.Trekurious.com.)