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Batticaloa- The land of the singing Fish
Situated in the Eastern Province of Sri Lanka, boarded by the districts of Trincomalee, Polonnaruwa and Amapara, Batticaloa is picturesquely framed around a complex of beautiful lagoons; Batticaloa, Valaichchenai, and Vakari.
It is also a district of islands and bridges. The biggest bridge of all is the Lady Manning Bridge located at Kallady, which is the main access path to the city from the southern point of the district. This bridge is also known for singing fish, the music allegedly made by the fish in and around the bridge. This piscatorial underwater choir makes its’ best performance one full moon poya day and many a visitors to the location attest to the story despite many a sceptics.
Marked as Nagadeepa in the ancient map of Ptolemy, Batticaloa had been the stage of many international conflicts in Sri Lankan history and their remnants still stand in the district of Batticaloa. According to MattakallappuManmiyam, the first habitants of Batticaloa had been the prisoners of war from Chola known as Mutkuhar orMukkuva. Being of mixed origin and having migrated from India at various stages the Mukkuvas had been great warriors and has acted as mercenaries to many local kings in their battles against countries like India and Burma. Governed mainly by Kandyan Kingdom before, Batticaloa changed into invading Portuguese hand in 17th century and was promptly taken over by Dutch and British subsequently.
The remains of the colonial powers remain strong in Batticaloa with many colonial edifices like the Batticaloa Fort, churches and convents scattering the streets of Batticaloa city. The city is also home to a strong community of Portuguese Burghers, who claim their own cultural niche in the city.However the inhabitants of Batticaloa are predominantly Hindus and the colorful gopurams decorated with mighty gods rule the skyline of Batticaloa while archeological remains speaks volumes of a Buddhist heritage in a bygone era.
Moving away from the main city the rural view is similar to many a places in the country. Never ending carpets of paddy and small farms trimmed by jungle patches and dotted with Palmyra trees govern the view while small fishing villages scatter on vast sandy beaches.
Despite its lack of mainstream tourist destinations Batticaloa has an ideal atmosphere for unwinding and its slow pace of life combined with miles long sun stroked spotless beachesmakes it one of the best locations to holiday and less expensive hotels and lodgings adds to its attraction.
In whole Batti is a district for beach bums, its’ famous beaches like Kallady and Navalady are least crowded and are ideal for swimming while scuba divers too are spoilt for choice. While there are many beautiful rock dives, Batticaloa is also the land of H.M.S.Hermes, a British ship that was sunk by Japanese bombers in 1942, still resounding with echoes of World War II and today is one of the best wreck dives in the region.