Welcome to Todd’s Wanderings!
You are probably wondering, who is Todd, how can he travel so much, doesn’t he have a job? Well, the short answer is I
am guy who left home 10 years ago. With the exception of graduate school I have been living abroad ever since.
Not satisfied with that answer? Here’s a slightly longer version.
I am a conflict resolution and human rights expert who has lived in Japan, Thailand, Timor Leste, Sri Lanka, most currently Kosovo, and visited over 30 countries. I began my wanderings 10 years ago as an English teacher in Japan. I fell in love (with the country), stayed for five years and then finally moved on to international development work.
I am also a travel writer, working on my first book, and draw inspiration from the decidedly offbeat areas of the world I find myself in. This website is a way to share my travel experiences, destinations and advice.
If you want me to write for you, or use my photography please contact me. If you have questions about travel or areas I have been just leave a comment.
Sri Lanka. For many people it conjures images of a strident Colombo with its pollution and bottleneck traffic, the relaxed idyllic beaches in the South and a suffocating civil war in the North and East. Quite a contrast and one that kept many people from visiting the country during the intense fighting that erupted from 2006-2009. Now that the war is over tourists are streaming into the country, filling up hotels and weighing down tour buses. Locals are also fanning out and visiting areas once considered too dangerous.
Called Serendib by Arab traders (the origin of the word “serendipity”), Sri Lanka has an amazing diversity for a small island and offers the possibility of experiencing vastly different climates, history, and cultures during a short vacation. In this Four Part Series I will share a glimpse of four vastly different areas of Sri Lanka that can, and should, be a part of any itinerary to the island of providence. I am leaving out the beaches and the south as I have covered them before (Southern Sri Lanka).
Trincomalee, Sri Lanka is a magical place. A small town atmosphere pervades this eastern coast haven as it clings to narrow strips of land reaching out into one of Asia’s best natural deep-water harbors. Perfect tropical beaches extend to the north of the small “city” tantalizing visitors with their turquoise blue waters and abundance of tropical fish. It is often described as the Maldives of Sri Lanka. Until recently the area has been under military lock-down and few tourists were brave enough to venture there. Now things are changing and the limited number of hotels that were operating are preparing for an explosion of visitors by upgrading and adding rooms. Unfortunately, coastal land is also being parceled out in a very nontransparent and unethical way to developers from Colombo leaving lingering questions of how equitable the economic boom will be for the Tamil and Muslim majority in the area.
If you are looking to beat the crowds and experience Trincomalee (called “Trinco” by the locals) before it’s overrun with atmosphere choking tourism planning (yes, I am being cynical here) now is the time to visit. Besides the beaches, the cultural heritage of the town is extremely interesting. One of the best places to experience this is the Hindu Koneswaram Temple, which clings to high cliff on Swarmi Rock off the edge of the Portuguese era Fort Frederick. The old fort is now occupied, fittingly so, by the Sri Lanka military, and you pass their barracks as you climb the steep hill to the promontory holding the temple.
The path leading up to the temple was lined with stalls selling everything from dried fish to plastic Chinese figurines of the God of Fortune and Wealth. Usually quiet and deserted the area was teaming with devotees praying and helping to prepare the temple for its annual festival. Besides the temple the view from the cliff is amazing and you are rewarded of a view of the town and fishing boats below.
The temple’s main deity is Lord Shiva and evidence suggests worshipers have been using the area for over 2,500 years. The original temple is long gone, pushed into the sea by the Portuguese in 1624 in their attempt to control the area. However, it was rebuilt 450 years later fueled by myths which associate the temple with the popular Indian epic the Ramayana, and its legendary hero-king Rama.
Leaving the temple a skinny young man grabbed my arm and directed me towards the bay. “When the tsunami came the whole bay below dried up as the water was sucked out into the ocean,” a local stall owner recalled. He pointed to the bay’s opening, drawing a line from the cliff top temple to another temple across the way. “With the water gone we saw huge square stone slabs placed on the ocean floor in a straight line leading from this temple to the one across the way.”
The other stall owners crowded in, nodding away. “We were always told that God crossed the bridge in the past. Now we have proof,” another man said. His face was deeply lined from a life spent in the tropical sun. As quickly as they swarmed they dispersed as a new group of devotees approached and they returned to the business of selling.
The local feeling of Trinco is its real charm. Everything is built and used by locals. If you get there now you might still be able to experience it.
If you go
Like all places in Sri Lanka there are still dangers associated with the recent civil war. However, security restrictions have been eased in Trincomalee and besides a few check points on the way into town I found the area to be very safe. Of course normal common sense should always be followed and you should probably not go out at night, not that anything is open after dark in this sleepy town.
Travel by car or bus is your only real option. The road conditions are improving every day and a new road is being built from Habarana to Trincomalee along the A6 road. At the time of writing about half of the road has been completed and is beautiful wide, smooth road. The second half is still pot hole ridden, narrow and windy and still takes quite a bit of time to navigate.
If you don’t like long car rides, consider spending the night in Habarana (don’t forget to check out the sites nearby like Sygiria and the Dambula Cave Temples) which is a 5-6 hour drive from Colombo. The final drive to Trinco should take about 4 more hours.
When to Go:
April to September when the East Coast is the driest and the monsoon has shifted the West Coast leaving the waters and beaches in the East perfect for swimming.
Lovers Leap – A Famous Tourist Attraction In Trincomalee
Trincomalee is a new entrant to the tourist friendly destinations in Sri Lanka, with the ending of a civil war that lasted decades. Pristine beaches that have been untouched await the traveller who wishes to explore this exotic location. Located on the east coast of the island, the seas surrounding Trincomalee offer some of the best spots for surfing in Sri Lanka. Nilaveli and Upaveli are among the best beaches in this coastal town, with the months of July and August being the best for surfing. For those who want to just take a dip and swim in the azure waters of Trinco, will find it safe from the months of May to October. One of the world's deepest and natural harbours can be found in Trincomalee, making it a target and envy of other nations. So much so, that the city has changed hands seven times during its history.
Popular tourist activities in the area include; a visit to Velgam Vihara which is a Buddhist temple with origins as far back as the 2nd century AD, whale and dolphin spotting, Pottuvil lagoon, Kuamana and Yala National Park, Koneswaram Kovil and Swami Rock or what is referred to as Lovers Leap.
Located within the Dutch fort of Trincomalee is a Hindu temple called Koneswaram. It is from this area that some of the best and most breathtaking views of the ocean and town can be seen. Within the compounds of the temple is Swami Rock, or better known as Lovers Leap. This rock has a sheer drop of 350 feet and legend has it that a Dutch Officer's daughter jumped off this rock after a broken love affair, hence the name Lovers Leap. The original temple that existed was destroyed by the Portuguese, and what stands at the entrance to Lovers Leap is a new one. Religious rituals take place every evening at the temple, and many devotees frequent the area to partake in these practices.
Looking for Trincomalee hotels for your trip to the east coast? John Keells Hotels Group provides Sri Lanka hotels in some of the most sought after destinations in the island. Enjoy a wide range of facilities, comfortable accommodation and star class service when you make an online reservation with John Keells Hotels Group.
About the Author
Pushpitha Wijesinghe is an experienced independent freelance writer. He specializes in providing a wide variety of content and articles related to the travel hospitality industry.
(ArticlesBase SC #2044074)
Fort Fredrick :
The Fort Fredrick was build by Portuguese in 1623. This fort was captured by Dutch in 1639. Later this was captured by British in 1795.
The famous Koneswaram temple is located inside this fort. This Hindu temple earlier know as temple of thousand Pillars. According to historical information,Portuguese had demolished the old Koneswaram temple and they build this fort with the parts of that.
More about Fort Fredrick ...
Girihadu Seya :
Girihadu Seya is located in Thiriyaya, 45km away from Tricomalee. This Pagoda ( Dageba) was done by Thapassue Balluka Merchants.
This is considered as the first Dageba in Sri lanka, may bein the world. The specialty of this Pagoda is that it was build while the Load Buddha is alive. More about Girihadu Seya ...
Kanniya Hot Water Wells :
Kanniya Hot water spring has the history from the King Rawana era. It says that King Ravana stuck the earth with his sward in several spots and several fountains were started on those places.
With the end of the war, many people visiting this Kanniya Hot Water spring in their trip to Trincomalee. More about Kanniya Hot Water Wells ...
Kinniya Bridge :
Kinniya new bridge is currently the longest bridge in Sri Lanka. This was build with the donation from Saudi Arabia and opened to public in 20th October 2009. Kinniya bridge is 10 meters wide and 495 meters in length.
This bridge replace the old ferry service operated through the Kinniya lagoon. Still you can see the old abandoned ferry by a side. More about Kinniya Bridge ...
Pigeon Island :
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 it's name because of the Rock Pigeons live over there. In year 2003 Pigeon island was designated as a nation park in Sri Lanka. More about Pigeon Island ...
According to the historical facts, the Vegam Rajamaha Viharaya was done by king Devanampiyathissa. Later on some additions and renovations were done by first Bathiya, Second Agkbo, first Vijayabahu and first Parakramabahu.
The most important point is this temple was that this was warshiped by both Sinhala and Tamil Buddhist. More about Vilgam Vehera ...