Home > Travel > The hidden beauty of Batticaloa

The hidden beauty of Batticaloa

For almost 30 years Batticaloa, a town 223 kilometers from Colombo, has been hidden away from the rest of the country. A civil war has raged on preventing the public from visiting the region and so it has become lost on my generation. In its place has sprung up Hikkaduwa in the South, Nuwara Eliya in the Central Province and Trincomalee in the North East.

On the 1st of May 2010 I was given the opportunity to travel to Batticaloa and despite a sense of hesitancy at first I went. The drive up to Polonnaruwa was fairly normal for me having seen most of the sights on numerous occasions. It was from this point onwards that my interest began to take over. The road was straight and smooth reminding me of the highways of South Africa and Australia. On either side however where the signs of a region untouched by the tourists of Colombo and the South. The farms had the look of a true rural surrounding, yet there was also a sense of me having stepped into another country. The thick forests that had surrounded has on much of our drive up had given way to the flat, rolling plains and unique palm trees. The scene was not all peaceful and undisturbed. We soon came across the first major checkpoint and immediately I was jolted back to reality that this place had been under separatist rule for close to the last 3 decades.

We arrived at the Sarvodaya and my heart fell a mile, my image of staying in a rustic yet exciting accommodations had been destroyed. Instead I was faced with the prospect of a sealed off room relying on a fan and a bathroom that would was possibly worse than outdoor plumbing. Having stayed in a makeshift camp in a tsunami project down in Tirukkovil in 2006 I was prepared for bad, this was worse. The building failed to provide an respite from the dry heat and like my energy my enthusiasm was beginning to fade.

Day 2 arrived and I was given the opportunity I was waiting for, we were going to travel deep into the Vakarai, a previous LTTE stronghold. The drive to the region gave me opportunity to really take in the surroundings of a region that up until a year ago was truly cut off from the rest of the country. Yet life had not come to a standstill in these many years of isolation, in fact apart from the military presence not much else differed from the norm. The surroundings provided me with a picture of a land devoid of the lush vegetation that inhabits the South and Central regions, it bordered on arid. Yet there was a uniqueness to this world that for so many years had been hidden away. A feeling of loneliness crept over the land as I continued to film. The beauty of Batticaloa was not the tourist attractions or the history, that for many including myself is still unknown, but it is the untouched quality.

The lack of a strong infrastructure or even signs of development have been criticised heavily back in Colombo. This is not however a bad thing as with a lack of development there is present a feeling of peace and innocence. Despite a war having raged on close to 3 decades in the region Batticaloa is able to boast these features.

Categories: Travel
  1. Nanaimo
    September 6, 2010 at 10:10 am

    Looking forward to seeing the rest up soon 🙂

  2. Tha
    September 6, 2010 at 6:01 pm

    Beautifully written. Would you consider writing a series of blogs on the different aspects of your visit to Batticaloa. Keep it up son.

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