Sometimes travelling makes you feel silly. Fascinated by the descriptions and photos, you pack your bags, take a long trip and arrive at a destination just to find out that it was almost like your neighborhood. Just kidding. No two travellers visit the same place.
Trincomalee wasn’t the most fascinating place in Srilanka that I visited but it definitely had its own charms and uniqueness. I am going to describe one awe-inspiringly beautiful experience in Trincomalee. We took the night train from Colombo Fort station (2100 hrs) , 2nd class sleeperettes to Trincomalee. As I had already mentioned in my previous post about train travel in Srilanka, this wasn’t very comfortable. Anyhow, we arrived at the station before daybreak (the train surprisingly pulled into the station a good one hour before schedule) at 5 am. We managed to get freshened up at the station itself (the bathrooms were ok, bearable) and got out. At the entrance itself, the tuktuk people are awaiting to catch their daily bread of tourists like us. We barged our way past them, only to find out that it is still dark outside and naturally the darkness and the unfamiliarity made us slightly confused as to what our next steps should be.
There comes the unlikely hero of the day. His name was Santhosh (aka Aadhavan), owner of auto no EP QB 1977. (He appears with this tuktuk in one of the pictures here and will feature in the subsequent posts.) He was one among the many fellows at the entrance who bargained for a day’s tour of the place with us. He came to us, saying as he was a younger one there, he couldn’t persuade us strongly when he was in the group but now he offered us a full tour of the place for LKR 2500. We bargained it down to 2000 and thought ,” Let’s go for it, anyway. We had travelled 9 uncomfortable hours in the rickety train and definitely do not want to spoil the day by running round for buses in an unfamiliar place.” So we set out for our first location of the day, the Koneswaram temple.
The temple is located about 5 km from the station, atop a small hillock. The hillock itself is an ancient (448 years old at the time of our journey, to be precise) Dutch fort by the sea. We passed this beautiful acacia lined boulevard by the sea and entered the Fort.
There are many deer wandering around the Fort and so be careful if you are driving. Do observe the traffic signals there, even though there is no traffic, as it is a military area under constant supervision. You can feed them and touch them, no restrictions.
On top of the the hill is the Thiru Koneswar temple (interestingly, Trincomalee is the Anglicized version of ThiruKonaMalai, which means the hill of Thiru Koneshwar, a Hindu deity. The buses plying there display the name Thirukonamalai in tamil script even today), which is a slightly long but possible walk from the railway station if you know the way. People come at atabout 6 am for the morning puja. Legend says that the temple was the place of Ravana’s (the demon king of Hindu mythology Ramayana) penance and worship. Do visit the temple in the early hours to see the beautiful sunrise and the worship on the precipice.
The ten headed demon king Ravana, who cut off one of his heads and hand to appease the Gods.
The temple is situated at the precipice of the hill and the cliff drops down about a hundred metres to the sea all around. It becomes an ethereal sight at sunrise with the heady breeze in your face and the gentle warmth of the morning sun. You have to be there to experience it. My 50mm lens does not do justice to the stunning landscape all around.
A sheer drop, known as Ravana’s cut.A pigeon for scale.
A tree, rooted in a crevice, growing out of the cliff.
The stairways to the cliff face.
This particular temple is also visited for its powers of fertility and hence lot of offerings of miniature cribs and dolls are found on the trees on the cliff around the temple.
I am leaving you here with the photos and one reminder. The worship which happens at the cliff face, happens only during certain hours of the day, sunrise being one. At other times, the area is locked off. Take the extra pain of waking up early or reaching there well in time, I guarantee that it is worth it.
The caretakers collecting the offerings.
Performing worship at the root of the tree at the cliff face.
The pujari (priest) with the morning arati.