An important city in Sri Lanka, Batticaloa (colloquially referred to as Batti) is the former capital of the Eastern Province, and is one of the major commercial cities in the region. The geography of Batticaloa makes it a beautiful place to visit. The town is a stretch of land surrounded on either side by water – the Indian Ocean on the east coast and a combination of three lagoons on the opposite side. Remains dating back to the Portuguese and Dutch rule keep its colonial past alive.
Places/Activities in Batticaloa
A serene and beautiful beach that is often patronised by the locals, Kallady beach is perfect for lazing around, swimming and sun bathing. A number of water sports are on offer, including water skiing and windsurfing. The seas are perfect for snorkeling and diving, especially between March and September, and allow you to experience an exotic underwater world, rich in corals and numerous species of tropical fish.
Batticaloa is surrounded by three lagoons namely Batticaloa Lagoon, Valaichchenai Lagoon, and Vakarai (Panichchankerni) Lagoon. A few islands run between these lagoons which are connected by bridges. The scenic lagoons are covered with mangroves and attract a large variety of bird life. The lagoon is famous for its ‘singing fish’. The area off the Kallady Bridge is where one can hear this unique harmonic music emanating from the waters.
The historical Batticaloa Fort was built by the Portuguese in 1628. The fort houses several government offices. The strong fortification is held by four bastions and the opposite sides are protected by the sea and a moat respectively. Despite its strategic location and fortified construction, it was the first Portuguese built fort to be seized by the Dutch in Sri Lanka. Eventually of course it fell into the hands of the British, Sri Lanka’s last colonial ruler. Within the fort are remains of a few Buddhist temple ruins dating back to the Ruhunu Kingdom.
Along a stretch of sand bar (called the Bar Road) rises a 28-meter lighthouse built by the British. The tower is built at the junction where the Batticaloa lagoon meets the Indian Ocean; thus its name Muttuwaran lighthouse which means ‘where the lagoon meets the sea’ in the local language. A picturesque setting of palm trees and the vast ocean along the two sides of the tower make it a pleasant visit.
Batticaloa was eyed by many an ancient ruler as it was an ideal location for ships to dock. During the Portuguese rule, the Batticaloa Fort was built which was later taken over by the Dutch and finally the British. The fort stands to this day, even withstanding the tsunami that struck the island in December 2004 in which Batticaloa was one of the worst hit towns. Batticaloa was mainly controlled by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) during the 30-year civil war, and was inaccessible to tourists until the conflict ended in 2009.
Travel Tips and Planning Information
Batticaloa is said to have a ‘dry-monsoonal’ climate as it is warm between March and May where temperatures average 320C with heavy rains experienced from November to February.