Most who travel to Sri Lanka never reach the east, instead beating the well-trodden path to the Cultural Triangle, Hill Country and sweeping south coast. This relatively undiscovered area holds many cultural gems and national parks, stunning stretches of coastline which rival the Maldives and is extremely ethnically and religiously diverse. The east coast is a cultural microcosm, with many of its influences filtering down from southern India through Jaffna. From the food to the industries, the colours to the traditions, this region is seemingly utterly independent from the rest of the island.
Batticaloa is a coastal town which sits at the eastern edge of the island, south of Trincomalee and above Arugam Bay. Life moves at an easy pace here: most of the locals travel by bicycle, and fishing on the lagoon or in the sea is the main source of income for many families. Handloom weaving is another traditional industry: it is mesmerizing to watch the vibrant threads being made into beautiful sarongs and saris. Cuisine is rich in flavour, enhanced by the spices used in curries from southern India, and the landscape is flat and sprawling, punctuated with spectacular stretches of pristine coastline.
For those looking to retreat from the fast-paced urban cities to more remote, rural areas, Batticaloa is an unrivalled choice. Experience authentic Sri Lankan village life: learn to cook traditional curries; go fishing on Batticaloa Lagoon; see the strange beauty of the rambling scrubland, and explore the backroads by bicycle, the preferred mode of transport for many in this region.
Batticaloa is known across Sri Lanka as the ‘Land of the Singing Fish’ due to the local folklore that surrounds the Batticaloa Lagoon. It is said that the lagoon is home to singing fish who lead fishermen to their catch on dark nights, although no researches have yet managed to document this mysterious phenomenon.
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Miguel Cunat is a Partner of Sri Lanka In Style founded in 2005 to provide visitors with insightful, engaging experiences in his adopted homeland. Recognized by Conde Nast Traveler as Sri Lanka’s Top Travel Specialist, and recently featured on Wendy Perrin’s WOW List.