Trincomalee beckons

Print edition : November 06, 2009

A view of the sunset from the Kanekeswaran temple in Trincomalee.-B. MURALIDHAR REDDY

TRINCOMALEE, the capital of the Eastern Province, remains a sleepy town on week days and comes to life only during the weekends when people from all parts of the island flock in for their first glimpse of the east after years. A few houses along the road even have Lodging Available boards in Sinhala.

The tariffs for furnished houses vary from Sri Lanka Rs.3,500 to Rs.5,000 a day. ($1 fetches Sri Lanka Rs.114). Nilaveli is one of the main beaches where the ocean is calm and a sea-bather could venture far out into the sea. On weekends the beach is packed with vehicles and families can be seen frolicking.

Another attraction is the seven hot-water wells at Kinniya, on the outskirts of the town. The waters of the wells are considered to have mineral properties that help in healing skin eruptions and rheumatic pain.

The springs are under the care of the local municipal council, and the authorities need to do a lot more to make them tourist-friendly. The entry fee per person is Sri Lanka Rs.20. A wall surrounds the area, which has shelters and separate changing rooms for men and women.

A must-visit location in the town is Koneswaran Kovil, or Swami Rock, within the Old Dutch Fort overlooking the sea. The temple and the famous Lovers Leap are favourite destinations. Local lore has it that a Dutch soldier and his lover, the wife of a superior officer, committed suicide by jumping into the ocean from the vantage point, which came to be known as Lovers Leap. It is a 100-metre fall into the ocean. Swami Rock attracts thousands of devotees.

The Tourism Ministry hopes that by 2012 it can transform Trincomalee into a major tourist hub. A conceptual zoning plan is being prepared in an attempt to achieve this. Currently, the only star hotels in and around the town are the Nilaveli Beach Hotel, Blue Oceanic at Uppuveli, and the Welcome Hotel near the inner harbour. Room rates are Rs.8,000 for a double room with full board and Rs.9,500 for a deluxe double room. There are plenty of hotels and eating houses in the town, but most are in a dilapidated condition.

B. Muralidhar Reddy

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