257 km. from Colombo , Trincomalee is One of the world’s finest natural harbors made Trincomalee a much sought after naval base during two World Wars.
This ancient harbour town predates the 6th Century and was fought over by several foreign powers since the Danes first landed here in 1617 and flexed their muscles on behalf of their Dutch friends. The trophy was of course the magnificent natural harbour, the largest in the world and strategically vital in this maritime era. The Portuguese built a fort here in 1624 but in 1639, the Dutch grabbed Trincomalee back from them. The British then ousted the Dutch in 1782, only to be driven away that same year by the French Navy, on behalf of the Dutch! This military version of musical chairs reflected the power struggles taking place in Europe . Finally, Trincomalee became England ‘s first hold on the island in 1795. During World War II, the harbour served as a major British Naval Base and is now the chief port of the Sri Lankan Navy.
Places of interest to visit include Fort Frederick , originally built by the Portuguese. It’s used as a military base now, but visitors are allowed to walk through the fort in order to visit the Koneswaram Kovil (temple) . Koneswaram is popular with pilgrims, and the view of the harbour from the temple road is amazing. About 100m from the fort gate, you’ll find Wellesley Lodge , where the Duke of Wellington recovered from an illness in 1799.
You can also visit the hot springs at Kanniyal – some 8kms northwest of Trinco. The well-kept Commonwealth War Cemetery is also on the Nilaveli road, and is the resting place of those who died here during World War II.