Sigiriya (Lion's rock, Sinhalese - is a place with a large stone and ancient rock fortress and palace ruin in the central Matale District of Central Province, Sri Lanka, surrounded by the remains of an extensive network of gardens, reservoirs, and other structures. A popular tourist destination, Sigiriya is also renowned for its ancient paintings (frescos),[1] which are reminiscent of the Ajanta Caves of India. It is one of the eight World Heritage Sites of Sri Lanka.

Sigiriya may have been inhabited through prehistoric times. It was used as a rock-shelter mountain monastery from about the 5th century BC, with caves prepared and donated by devotees of the Buddhist Sangha. Accordi.... Read more...

Trincomalee
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Trincomalee (Tamil: திருகோணமலை Tirukōṇamalai, Sinhala: තිරිකුණාමළය Trikuṇāmalaya) is a major port city in Eastern Province, Sri Lanka and lies on the east coast of the island, about 113 miles south of Jaffna. It is also the administrative capital of Eastern Province, Sri Lanka. It has a population of 99,135.[1] The city is built on a peninsula, which divides the inner and outer harbours. Overlooking the Kottiyar Bay, Trincomalee is one of the main centers of Tamil speaking culture on the island. The city is home to the famous ancient Koneswaram temple alluded to in its historic Tamil name Thirukonamalai from which its anglicized name is derived, and has been a sea port that has played a major role in the maritime and international trading history of Sri Lanka. It is referred to as Gokanna in Pali[2] or Gokarna in Sanskrit.

The Bay of Trincomalee's harbour is renowned for its large size and security; unlike every other in the Indian Sea, it is accessible to all types of craft in all weathers. The beaches are used for surfing, scuba diving, fishing and whale watching. The city also has the largest Dutch fort in Sri Lanka. It is home to major Sri Lankan naval bases and a Sri Lankan Air Force base.
Names and etymology

Trincomalee, is an anglicized form of the Tamil word "Tiru-kona-malai", meaning "Lord of the Sacred Hill"; a reference to the town's ancient Koneswaram temple.[3] Thiru comes from the Tamil for "sacred", Kona means "Lord" or "Chief" in the language while Malai in Tamil means mountain or hill.[3][4][5] Another meaning for the word Kona in Tamil is peak, and other definitions for Tirukonamalai include "sacred angular/peaked hill" or "three peaked hill".[6][7] The town is situated on a hill at the end of a natural land formation that resembles an arc; the temple itself is built on Swami Rock, historically referred to as Kona-ma-malai, a cliff on the peninsula that drops 400 feet (120 metres) directly into the sea.[8]

Sanskrit texts, as well as an inscription unearthed by archeologists, call it Gokanna.[9] The Vayu Purana refers to a Siva temple on Trikuta hill on the eastern coast of Lanka in the 3rd century.[10] The Mahavamsa documents that the King Mahasena destroyed a Deva temple and built a Buddhist shrine in its stead to expiate for an earlier heresy on his part.[11]

Tamil texts, as well as excavated inscriptions detail the Saivite principalities that formed in Trincomalee in service of the Koneswaram temple by the medieval age. The South Indian Tamil literature Tevaram of Tiru-gnana Sambandar makes mention to the Siva temple in Trincomalee in the 6th century.[12] Koneswaram and the royal administration of the city is documented in several late medieval texts such as the Konesar Kalvettu[13] and the Dakshina Kailasa Puranam.[14]
History
Claudius Ptolemy's map of Ceylon, 1st century AD in a 1535 publication.

Trincomalee which is a natural deep-water harbour that has attracted seafarers like Marco Polo, Ptolemy and Sea Traders from China and East Asia since ancient times. Trinco, as it is commonly called, has been a sea port since the days of the ancient Sri Lankan Kings. The earliest known reference to the port of Gokanna is found in the Mahavamsa stating that in 5th century BC, when King Vijaya who having failed to convince his brother to come to Sri Lanka as his successor, got down his youngest son Panduvasdeva, who landed at Gokanna and was subsequently enthroned at Upatissagama.

Trincomalee was used by Chola king Ilankesvarar Tevar as his eastern port in the 11th century and prospered under the Vannimai chieftaincies of the Jaffna kingdom. It was often visited by Kings Singai Pararasasegaram and his successor King Cankili I.[15] King Jeyaveera Cinkaiariyan (1380-1410 CE) had the traditional history of the Koneswaram temple compiled as a chronicle in verse, entitled Dakshina Kailasa Puranam, known today as the Sthala Puranam of Koneshwaram Temple.[16]

King Parakramabahu I used Gokanna (Trincomalee) as his eastern port, to launch a successful invasion of Burma in the 12th Century.[17]

By the late 16th century, Jaffna had given minimal logistical access to its Trincomalee and Batticaloa seaports to Kandy to secure military advantages against its enemies; this was utilized by their influential European overlords to consolidate power in the region. In 1612, D. Hieronymo de Azevedo, after great difficulties due to torrential rains arrived at Trincomalee with a Portuguese contingent from Kandy. Here de Azevedo "was keen on building a fort" to the scope he called in aid from King Ethirimana Cinkam of Jaffna, but not seeing him arrive he abandoned the enterprise and he marched towards Jaffna.[18][19]

The Danish arrived in Trincomalee to the end of 1619 with a first ship, called "Øresund" under the command of Roelant Crape, this small expedition, was the vanguard of another Danish fleet, this one composed by four vessels and three hundred soldiers, commanded by Ove Giedde, that reached the island in May 1620. They wanted to try their fortune in the Asian seas; the Danish expedition occupied Koneswaram temple and it was here that the Danes began the works for the fortification of the peninsula.[18] In the year 1619, upon the Portuguese conquest of the Jaffna kingdom, all the territory of the kingdom of Jaffna, comprised Trincomalee and Batticaloa, was assigned to the spiritual cures of the Franciscans. This decision was taken by the bishop of Cochin, f Dom Sebastião de S. Pedro. Later, an other decree of the same bishop of Cochin dated 11 November 1622, tracing that one indicated in 1602, entrusted newly to the Jesuits the spiritual cure in the districts of Jaffna, Trincomalee and Batticaloa, giving to them possibility to build churches, to train the sacraments and to convert the souls. The Jesuits followed the Portuguese soldiers to Trincomalee and Batticaloa when they occupied the two localities.[18][19]

Trincomalee had a Portuguese force during the reign of Kandyan King Rajasinghe II. Rajasinghe finally ended with an alliance with Dutch and the Dutch invaded Kottyar Bay Fort as their first attack. The fall of the Kottyar Bay Fort was the first nail in the Portuguese coffin. An English sea captain and historical chronicle writer named Robert Knox came ashore by chance near Trincomalee and surrendered to the Dissawa (official) of the King of Kandy in 1659. It joined the Coylot Vanni Country by the 18th century. Hence, it was an important trade city between Sri Lanka and the outside world, and one of the British Empire's most important ports in Asia during the second world war.

Trincomalee was occupied by the Dutch, and subsequently by French alternately, until the capture of the fort there by the British in 1795. Trincomalee was the first land to be captured by the British who fought and defeated the Dutch, who did not want to surrender Ceylon as directed by the Prince of Orange, who took refuge in London after being defeated by the French republicans under Napoleon. As such Trincomalee has served as an entrance to a western invader from Calcutta.
The British in Trincomalee
The Trincomalee beach

On January 8, 1782 the British captured the fort but the French recaptured it on August 29 of the same year. In 1783 the French ceded it to the British and subsequently Britain ceded it to the Dutch. In 1795 the British recaptured and held it until Sri Lanka's independence in 1948. The importance of Fort Fredrick was due to Trincomalee's natural harbour. Through Trincomalee, it was believed a strong naval force could secure control of India's Coromandel Coast.

Prior to the Second World War the British had built a large airfield to house a permanent RAF base, RAF China Bay and a fuel storage and support facilities for the Royal Navy and HMS Highflyer naval base based there. After the fall of Singapore, Trincomalee became the home port of the Eastern Fleet of the Royal Navy, and submarines of the Dutch Navy. The harbour and airfield were attacked by a Japanese carrier fleet in April 1942 in the Indian Ocean Raid

Until 1957, Trincomalee was an important base for the Royal Navy and was home to many British people who were employed by the British Admiralty. One of the places inhabited by the British was Fort Fredrick which is now occupied by the Sri Lankan Army. Some of the old buildings in the fort were used as residences, (as married quarters for senior officers and civilian dockyard "maties") including one previously occupied by The Duke of Wellington. In the early 1950s The British Government built groups of bungalows within the Fort specifically for their employees. (Mainly married quarters for naval ratings.)

These bungalows still exist and provide accommodation for soldiers of the Sri Lankan Army. One of the groups of bungalows was named Edinburgh Terrace. Children of the British residents attended a Royal Naval School which was part of the Naval Base.

There was also a large Naval Hospital which catered for sick and injured naval personnel from all over the Indian Ocean and Persian Gulf.
Post independence
Sri Lankan naval ship at Trincomalee

The naval and air bases were take over by Sri Lanka in 1957, today SLNS Tissa and SLN Dockyard are used by the Sri Lankan Navy, while the Sri Lanka Air Force is based at SLAF China Bay. The Sri Lanka Army has its Security Forces Headquarters - East in Trincomalee.

Trincomalee War Cemetery, is one of the six commonwealth war cemeteries in Sri Lanka, it is maintained by Sri Lankan Ministry of Defence on behalf of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.

The Navy Base is home to a naval museum called The Hoods Tower Museum. The name of the museum refers to a watchtower built on a hill commanding a 360-degree view of the harbor and the bay.
2004 tsunami
Main article: 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami

In the aftermath of the 2004 Asian Tsunami, Trincomalee was a focal point for relief efforts on the eastern coast of Sri Lanka.[20]
Historical sites
The Koneswaram Temple.

Trincomalee is sacred to both Sri Lankan Tamils and Sinhalese people. Trincomalee and its environs have many Hindu sites of historical importance. These sites are sacred to the Hindus and some Buddhists worship in these Hindu sites.

Even though Mahasena demolished the Sivan Temple and built a Mahayana Buddhist temple on the hilltop the Hindus of this area maintain a good peaceful relationships with the minority Sinhala Buddhists living in the area.
Hindu historical sites

The Koṇēsvaram temple, with a recorded history from the 3rd century CE and legends attesting to classical antiquity attracted pilgrims from all parts of India. The Koṇēsvaram shrine itself was demolished in 1622 by the Portuguese (who called it the Temple of a Thousand Columns), and who fortified the heights with the materials derived from its destruction. Some of the artefacts from the demolished temple were kept in the Lisbon Museum including the stone inscription by Kulakottan (Kunakottan). It has an emblem including two fish and is engraved with a prophesy stating that, after the 16th century, westerners with different eye colours will rule the country for 500 years and, at the end of it, rule will revert back to Vadugus. The Hindu temple was also documented in several late medieval texts such as the Konesar Kalvettu[13] and the Dakshina Kailasa Puranam.[14]
The Dutch Fort

The entrance to the roadway leading to Koneswaram is actually the entrance to what used to be Fort Fredrick. The fort was built in 1623 by the Portuguese and captured in 1639 by the Dutch. It then went through a phase of dismantling and reconstruction and was attacked and captured by the French in 1672.
Harbour

Trincomalee's strategic importance has shaped its recent history. The great European powers vied for mastery of the harbour. The Portuguese, the Dutch, the French, and the English, each held it in turn, and there have been many sea battles nearby.

The harbour, the fifth largest natural harbour in the world, is overlooked by terraced highlands, its entrance is guarded by two headlands, and there is a carriage road along its northern and eastern edges.

Trincomalee's location, in a less well developed and sparsely populated area, has in the past hampered its own development. Nevertheless plans are under way to develop Trincomalee as a commercial seaport.
Beaches
The Trincomalee Beach in front of Chaaya Blu Resort, Trincomalee, in July 2010.

Trincomalee has some of the most picturesque and scenic beaches found in Sri Lanka, relatively unspoilt and clean. The area is famous for bathing and swimming, owing to the relative shallowness of the sea, allowing one to walk out over a hundred meters into the sea without the water reaching the chest. Whale watching is a common pastime in the seas off Trincomalee, and successful sightings are on the rise with the increase of tourism in the area.
Hot springs

There are the seven hot springs of Kanniya (Kal = stone; niya = land), on the road to Trincomalee. A high wall bounds the rectangular enclosure which includes all seven springs. Each is in turn enclosed by a dwarf wall to form a well. The water is warm, the temperature of each spring being slightly different. The use of the springs for bathing is controlled by the neighbouring Mari Amman Kovil, who holds the lease of the wells[citation needed].
Climate

Trincomalee features a tropical wet and dry climate under the Köppen climate classification. The city appears to feature a dry season from March through July and a wet season for the remainder of the year. Technically however, May which sees on average 70 mm of precipitation, is a wet season month. In essence, Trincomalee features two dry seasons. The city sees on average roughly 1650 mm of precipitation annually. Average temperatures in Trincomalee range from around 25 degrees Celsius in January to approximately 30 degrees Celsius during the warmest months of the year.
[hide]Climate data for Trincomalee
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 33
(91) 36
(97) 38
(100) 39
(102) 40
(104) 39
(102) 38
(100) 39
(102) 39
(102) 39
(102) 36
(97) 33
(91) 40
(104)
Average high °C (°F) 27
(81) 28
(82) 29
(84) 32
(90) 33
(91) 33
(91) 33
(91) 33
(91) 33
(91) 31
(88) 29
(84) 27
(81) 30.7
(87.3)
Average low °C (°F) 24
(75) 24
(75) 24
(75) 26
(79) 26
(79) 26
(79) 26
(79) 25
(77) 25
(77) 24
(75) 24
(75) 24
(75) 24.8
(76.6)
Record low °C (°F) 18
(64) 19
(66) 19
(66) 19
(66) 19
(66) 22
(72) 21
(70) 21
(70) 21
(70) 21
(70) 19
(66) 19
(66) 18
(64)
Precipitation mm (inches) 173
(6.81) 66
(2.6) 48
(1.89) 58
(2.28) 69
(2.72) 28
(1.1) 51
(2.01) 107
(4.21) 107
(4.21) 221
(8.7) 358
(14.09) 363
(14.29) 1,649
(64.92)
Source: BBC Weather[21]
Transport and Communications
Road and rail

Trincomalee is on the eastern end of the A6 and A12 highways in Sri Lanka, as well as the northern end of the A15.

The city is also served by Sri Lanka Railways. Trincomalee Railway Station is the terminus of Trincomalee-bound rail services, the majority of which originate from Colombo Fort.[22] The station lies close to the northern coast and beaches of the city.
Broadcasting

German broadcaster Deutsche Welle operates a shortwave and mediumwave relay station in Trincomalee. It was not adversely affected by the Tsunami of 2004 because of the sea terrain around Trincomalee. Deutsche Welle started broadcasting from Trincomalee Relay Station in 1984.
Education

The Naval and Maritime Academy of the Sri Lanka Navy and the Air Force Academy of the Sri Lanka Air Force is situated in Trincomalee. It was first established in 1967, and gained university status in 2001.[23] The Eastern University of Sri Lanka, which has its main campus in Batticaloa, also has a campus in Trincomalee.
List of Trincomalee schools

Zahira College, Trincomalee
St Joseph Collage, Trincomalee
T/R.K.M.Sri Koneswara Hindu College
T/Sri Shanmuga Hindu Ladies College
T/St Mary's College
Orr's Hill Vivekananda College
T/Vikneswara Mahavidyalayam
Sinhala central college at Trincomale town
Naamahal Vidyalayam, Trincomalee
Kalaimahal Vidyalayam, Trincomalee
St Francis Xavier School
T/Nalanda College, China Bay
T/Siraj Muslim maha vidyalayam

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