Religion, History, and Archeology

Temples, shrines, and monuments, Eastern Sri Lanka has them all, going back some two-thousand years. They represent major religions, minor ethnic groups, and long-standing minorities. Their ancient shrines reflect beliefs, and their monuments honor their religions.

“Kudumbigala is an ancient Buddhist monastery and one of the most famous sites in the region. Many of its more than two-hundred rock caves contain inscriptions carved on the walls in Brahmi. Monks used to meditate here. After viewing  the caves, climb up the highest rocks to get a full view of the area; you might run into some peacocks. However, we recommend people only visit after 11am and before 3pm because of the many animals, such as black bears, who also use this path.”

- M.H.A. Raheem, President of the Arugam Bay Tourism Association, Arugam Bay

The Batticaloa Burghers are an ethnic group, of Portuguese and Sri Lankan descent. In the early 16th century, the Portuguese arrived in Batticaloa after their explorers found the sea route to the Indian Ocean. With no common language, the soldiers used a simplified form of Portuguese to communicate with the natives, and not long after, they conquered their coastline. The Portuguese soldiers took local wives from the Tamil population, thus creating the Portuguese Burghers. Today, their decendants number around 5,000 people out of Batticaloa’s  total of 100,000.

Generally, the young generations of Burghers do not speak, nor even understand Sri Lankan Portuguese. “If you're Burgher and if you can speak Creole Portuguese it’s your duty to pass it to your kids, in the same way our parents did,” said Felicia, an elderly Burgher woman. “We should speak to our kids, especially at home.”

"Trincomalee, a coastal city comprising of all three religious communities in almost equal proportion, is home to ancient monuments and temples dating back to nearly 2000 years. Now, after the end of the conflict in Sri Lanka, Trincomalee is transforming into a tourism destination."

- Dr. R. Gnanasegar

the best travel advice comes from the people who live here
Smriti Daniel