“Tiru-kona-malai”… the gem of the east

428 Views - Published on - December 21, 2012 by Raza Ali

The city of Trincomalee is situated on the eastern coast of Sri Lanka. It had deep harbours and the most secure ones in the whole country. These harbours are safe for any kind of vessels in all types of weathers.

Trincomalee is the Tamil center of the country and an ancient trade town. This town used to receive traders and goods from the east, which then made their way to the Arab peninsula.

Trincomalee today shows the social and administrative calmness that prevails all over Sri Lanka, since the end of the 30 year long civil war. If you came to Sri Lanka through the western gateway that is Colombo and had taken the usual tourist route covering Galle and Kandy, you are sure to miss the beauty that Trincomalee offers.

The beaches in this city are superb, with emerald green water and flat shores. In Trico you can engage in scuba diving to see the coral reef and to enjoy the unique sea life in this area. The city is situated on a peninsula and offers a wide range of water based activities, like surfing as well as the earlier mentioned scuba diving and just a lazy swim.


The town itself is not very big. The total population of the city is less than 100000. In the town you will find markets offering consumer goods as anywhere else, but in Trico you will also find a fish market offering a wide range of sun dried salted fish and specific sea life items like shark jaws, which are used to make some Chinese medicine, which is claimed to enhance male potency. Well is it true or not, is a question, to answer which you first need to suffer from potency problems. So fortunately we could not authenticate the claim!

The city’s English name of Trincomalee was derived from the name of a Hindu temple called Konesawaram, which in Tamil is called “Tiru-kona-malai” meaning “Lord of the sacred hill”. Well can you call your visit to Trinco as complete if you don’t go to this temple? Of course not!


So we took one whole day to go to this temple, which is located within the old Portuguese fort, occupied by the country’s armed forces, especially air-force and navy. The temple in fact is on the top of the hill, so getting there is either very easy taking a vehicle or about a ten minute walk from the entrance to the fort. The place where stayed, Sea Lord Hotel, offered a view of the temple or rather the view of Shiva’s head from the beach bar.

The temple on the hill top is not much different from other Tamil temples in design, but the major difference is the huge Golden Shiva statue at the front and then very nice ensemble of statues of different deities along the alley created on the verge of a high cliff. Standing in that alley you see the beautiful waters of the Indian Ocean and the fishermen’s boats awaiting the same fish, which are then sold in the Trinco market.

Now let me tell you something interesting. If you ask someone in Colombo about Trico they would say: “Trinco is a beautiful city, but accommodation in Trinco is very expensive.” Please do not pay attention to this verdict. Accommodation in Trinco is no more expensive than in Colombo, Negombo or even Kandy. On the contrary Trinco offers better and less expensive accommodation.

Travel to Trinco is also not very expensive from Colombo. You can take a night train from Colombo, which offers 1st, 2nd and 3rd class travel. The first class sleeper costs 750 LKR, whereas 2nd class Pullman seats cost only 450LKR and believe me 2nd class seats are a better choice than the first class cabins. If you want to enjoy your time (approximately 8 hours) take a second class Pullman seat and you might meet a lot of interesting local people, who move around through the pass through cars. We met a lot of people and a few of them are now in the telephone contact list. So save your money and have more fun, travel for 450LKR only.

I will be writing more about Trinco, so keep coming back and stay with us and take the joy ride!