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Batticaloa

Batticaloa  is located the Eastern Province of Sri Lanka. The city is the seat of the Eastern University of Sri Lanka and it's a major commercial city. It is on the east coast, 69 miles (111 km) south by south east of Trincomalee, and 314 km from Colombo. It is situated on an island. Pasikudah and Arugam Bay are the two most popular places for tourists in the Eastern province with serene beautiful beaches and flat year-round warm water shallow-lagoons. It also boasts of some of the cheapest hotels and most exotic economical food.

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Etymology (Meaning) of word Batticaloa

Batticaloa is a Portuguese derivation. The original name of the region being the Tamil "Matakkalappu" (translation: Muddy Swamp). According to Mattakallappu Manmiyam the word Mattakkallpu consists Tamil words "Mattu" Matta-derived from "Mattam"  means 'flat' and geographical name KaLappu. Mukkuwa named this place as KaLappu-Mattam or boundary of lagoon later it became Matta-Kallappu or Flat Lagoon

Geography

Batticaloa is in the eastern coast of Sri Lanka on a flat coastal plain boarded by the Indian Ocean in the east occupies the central part of the eastern Sri Lanka. Its average elevation is around 5 meters.[3] Scenic beauty of the Batticaloa is the Lagoons. Batticaloa district has three lagoons such as Batticaloa Lagoon, Valaichchenai Lagoon, and Vakari (Panichchankerni) Lagoon. Among these lagoon, Batticaloa Lagoon is the largest lagoon and has 56 km long 162 square km area, extending from Pankudaweli in North and Kalmunai in South.

There are several islands within the Batticaloa Lagoon such as Puliayantheevu, Buffaloa Island, Bone Island Many bridges are built across the lagoon connecting the landmasses and the islands. The Puliayantheevu is the metropolitan place of the city. The biggest bridge of all is Lady Manning bridge located at Kallady, which is the main access path to the city from the southern places of the district. This bridge is also famous for Singing fishes which was considered musical sounds heard in the Kallady lagoon in the full moon day. A priest named Father Lang recorded this musical charm and broadcast it in the 1960s over the (Sri Lanka Broadcasting Cooperation)

Batticaloa beaches are sandy and located along 4 km shoreline in the city and further extend through the neighboring places. Kallady beach, the popular serene beachfront where large numbers of people gather in the city. Also Batticaloa such as the heavenly beaches of Pasikudah and Kalkudah have rarely been molested. Pasikudah is a bay protected from the ocean. The significance of Pasikudah is that its bed is flat and sandy and has a pleasant effect on the feet. This can be experienced up to nearly 150 to 200 meters from the shore. Pasikudah is an ideal location for those who wish to learn swimming. Pasikudah is in perfect harmony with its stunning natural setting on the island's eastern tip. With its atmosphere of rarefied tranquility, it is a place for relaxation and renewal.

Climate

Batticaloa's features a tropical wet and dry climate under the Köppen climate classification - which is also generically referred to as the 'dry-monsoonal climate'. Batticaloa's climate is temperate all throughout the year. From March to May the temperature averages around 32 degrees Celsius (88 degrees Fahrenheit) maximum. These periods will be warmest throughout the year. During the monsoon season from November to February heavy rains are recorded, where the average temperature fallen to 15 degrees Celsius .Rainfall in Batticaloa averages around 1,400 millimeter (551 in).

Batticaloa City

The city has four main divisions.

Pullianthivu:Seat of many government department and offices, schools, banks religious places, General Hospital, Weber Stadium and Shops. Nowadays many NGO offices including ICRC, UN, UNICEF, WORLD VISION etc.are located also.

Koddamunai: Schools, Banks, Sri Lanka Telecom regional office for East, Shops and many government offices are located. Two bridges called Perya Palam and Puthuppalam are connects Pulianthivu island with Koddaminai land mass.

Kallady: Here there are many Government buildings and private industries, schools, hospitals and Eastern University Medical Faculty. Kallady Lady Manning bridge connects Kallady and Arasay.
Puthur: This is where the domestic airport of Batticaloa is located.

Demography

Batticaloa is on the East coast of Sri Lanka, 314 km from Colombo. The population of 95,489 consists mainly of Sri Lankan Tamils, Moors, Sinhalese, Burghers and the indigenous Veddas population.
The District of Batticaloa itself consists of several administrative divisions, which are: Manmunai North, Manmunai West, Manmunai South & Eruvil Pattu, Manmunai Pattu, Koralai Pattu North, Porativu Pattu, Kattankudy, Eravur Pattu, Eravur Town, Koralai Pattu and Koralai Pattu West. Some 525,142 persons (52.2% female) were recorded in the 2012 census. Religion based statistics in the year 2012 are: Hindus 64.6%, Muslims 25.5%, Christians 8.8%, with a small numbers of Buddhists (1.1%) and others.[7] These figures became even more polarized towards Hindus during the LTTE occupation which came to an end in 2007 (see Eelam War IV).

According to the 2012 census, the total population was 525,142. Of which 381,285 were Sri Lankan Tamils, 133,844 Moors, 6,127 were Sinhalese, 2,794 Burgher, 1,015 Indian Tamils, 58 Veddah, 16 Malay, and 3 Sri Lanka Chetty

Cultural institutions

Batticaloa has historically been a centre of Portuguese Burgher culture, supported in the modern era by the Catholic Burgher Union. In the 1980s, despite Burger emigration to Australia, the Union still numbered some 2,000 speakers of Sri Lankan Portuguese, making them the largest community still speaking the dialect.[10]

Religious institutions

Hinduism is the major religion of Batticaloa. Eastern Province is a place of Amman temples. This shows the worship of female deity Kannaki of Silappatikaram. The cult has come with the King Gajabahu I who brought the settler Tamils from the Chera Kingdom of his friend Cheran Senguttuvan. Shri Mamangeshwarar Kovil is one of the main holy places for Hindus in the country is located in a place called Amirthakally which is 6 Kilometers away from Batticaloa town. Hindus believe that by bathing in the water of sacred water of Mamangeshwarar tank, the departed souls of their family will be receiving better attainments in their cycle of its transmigrations. Sri Kandaswamy/KannakaiAmman Kovil are important from a devotional point of view. The Mandur (மண்டூர்) temple is in the southern end, while the Mamangeshwarar temple is in the western-most edge at Muhaththuvaram (முகத்துவாரம்).

The Colany Mosque, and the Koddamunai Dharga and Madrasa are two noteworthy Muslim institutions. There are a large number of mosques in the region.[11]
Christianity is present and Catholic churches are found every where as the coastal community has some Catholics. Methodists, Anglicans, and other Protestants and their schools are also present in Batticaloa. Within Batticaloa Municipal Council area, Christian presence is strong (23%) compare to other area.

The latter is a historic harbour and ancient Buddhist shrine, mentioned in the "Dhathu Vamsa". While the Dagaba and shrine in the Dutch Fort is the oldest (1st century CE), Mangalaramaya is a well known modern Buddhist temple in Batticaloa.

Economic activities

Rice and coconuts are the two staples of the district, and steamers trading round the island call regularly at the port. The lagoon is famous for its "singing fish," supposed to be shell-fish which give forth musical notes. The district has a remnant of Veddahs or wild men

Transport

Batticaloa is the terminus of a Broad gauge branch railway of the Sri Lanka Government Railway network. Batticaloa Airport is a military air force base.

 

Early history of Batticaloa

Ancient map drawn by Egyptian cartographer Ptolemy shows the Eastern Province and Batticaloa as Nagadiba.[citation needed] Thus the people of the Eastern Province were called Nagas. There were several Naga kings and princes who ruled Sri Lanka and Nagadeepa who were called by various Naga names. These names are listed references in Mahawamsa.

Mannar was the first capital established by Prince Vijaya (the Malla who was expelled by his father from Singapura) around 500 BC. His son Pandukaabahya moved the capital to Anoora. Ptolemy's map shows this location as Anoor and it remained with the name for a long time. Most probably it was Anaiyoor meaning Elephant-town. Later the capital grew into a city and name was changed into Anuradhapura. There were places called Malae meaning Malai or Mountains for the Hill Country. Jaffna and Point Pedro were marked as emporium showing that it was the Manchester of the East. Roghana was the name of the South. Mahaweli Ganga's old name was Ganges. Trincomalee's old name was Naga Diba. Western part was named Soena(Sonaka or Mashonaland) and East was named Senni(Valaichenai).

Kaveri River has an ancient anicut built with the Sinhalese engineers who were taken to Chola Country as workers. Karikala Chola invaded and took thousands of prisoners. Gajabahu went to Chola Nadu and brought those prisoners and their descendents back. Along with the released prisoners, thousands of Tamils were brought and settled. They were settled in the Eastern, Western and Central Provinces.

Mattakallappu Manmiyam refers (மட்டக்களப்பு மான்மியம்) Mukkuva or Mutkuhar are known as the first people migrated to this land and constructed seven villages in various areas. They immigrated their people from India and established the kingdom of Mukkuva. The name of the villages and towns in Batticaloa still holds the historical evidence of the ancient batticaloan people. When Mutkuhar intruded through the salty water and reached the destination of their voyage at the forests situated around the lagoon. When they finished. The name given by the Mukkuva was "Kallpu-Mattam" which literally means "boundary of lagoon". Later it was called "Matta-Kallappu" which indicates the destination of Mukkuva's voyage and the water is flat.

Mukkuva Wars

Mukkuva is a coastal community from Kerala State. They are of mixed origin and migrated at various periods in history. Mukkuvas waged war around Puttalam and settled in the western coast as well. Sinhala Kings of Suryawamsa kept Mukkuvas as their mercenary force. They waged wars on other countries like Burma. Gajabahu, Parakramabahu, Vijayabahu were some of these Suryawamsa kings who employed the Chera soldiers for their protection and defence of Sri Lanka. Gajabahu I was a friend of Cheran Chenkuttuvan and was mentioned in the great Jain epic of Silappadikaram and in addition to that he was also mentioned in Mahawamsa.
When Anuradhapura was destroyed, the capital moved from Anuradhapura to Polonnaruwa. When Pollonaruwa was destroyed the capital moved to Kotte and then to Kandy. Anuradhapura was destroyed by Rajaraja Cholan and he who established Polonnaruwa. Even though Pollonaruwa had a few Hindu temples it was a great Buddhist city full of beautiful Buddhist architecture matching Angkor Wat.

Kalinga Magha

As a catalyst for change, Kalinga Magha is arguably one of the most significant rulers in Sri Lankan history. His invasion marks the final - cataclysmic - destruction of the kingdom of Rajarata, which had for so long been the heart of native power on the island. The great cities of the ancient kings were now lost and disappeared into the jungle, and were not rediscovered until the 19th century. Native power was henceforth centred on a kaleidoscopically shifting collection of kingdoms in south and central Sri Lanka. The north, in the meanwhile, eventually evolved into the Jaffna Kingdom, which was subjected colonial rule by the Portuguese in 1619.
Kalinga Magha's geopolitical impact is reflected in the changing language of the Culavamsa as well. The traditional divisions of Sri Lanka, into Rajarata, Dhakkinadesa, and Ruhuna, first undergo a change of names (Rajarata becomes Pathithadesa, Dhakkinadesa becomes Mayarata), and then slip into obsolescence altogether. Their successor kingdoms tended to be geographically smaller and centred on a strong citadel-capital, such as Yapahuwa or Gampola; they also tended to be much short lived, like Sitawaka.

Jaffna Principality

With the decline of the Rohana sub-kingdom and the defeat of Polonnaruwa, coming with the rise of Chola power, i.e., from about the 13th century CE, these regions became wild. The many irrigation works (tanks etc., which exist even today) became home to malaria( see History of Sri Lanka). In the meantime, the eastern coastal region remained less affected by Malaria and began to be occupied. Thus seafaring people who had begun to settle down along the coast since the Anuradhapura times, circa 6th Century CE began to flourish. The forests continued to be dominated by the Veddha population which claimed kingship ("cross-cousins") with the Sinhala kings of Kandy

Parakramabahu's coronation took place in 1236. He turned his attention to the recovery of Polonnaruwa from the Tamils, and achieved this purpose by 1244. In this connection two kings are mentioned, Kalinga Magha and Jaya Bahu, who had been in power forty years, apparently reckoned from the time of the military rule after Sahasa Malla. As the Tamil war' and the `Malala war' as specifically mentioned by contemporary chronicles the two kings may have held different parts of the country. In the king's eleventh year (1244/5) Lanka was invaded by Chandrabhanu, a Javanese (Javaka) from Tambralinga, with a host armed with blow-pipes and poisoned arrows: he may have been a sea- robber, and though now repulsed descended on the Island later on.
The rest of the reign according to the contemporary records was spent in pious works; the king also held a convocation for the purpose of reforming the priesthood, whose discipline had been relaxed during the Tamil occupation. The chronicles make no mention of a great Pandyan invasion which seems to have taken place between 1254 and 1256, in which one of the kings of Lanka was slain and the other rendered tributary. From this it is clear that Parakramabahu- never had recovered the north of the Island, which certainly had been held by his great namesake.
King Parakramabahu II got organized for a major battle. He got everything ready hastily. Those were very busy days for the king and his Yuvaraja Buwanekabahu was always with him, helping him in whatever way he could. The Yuvaraja was fully committed to his task. He was a great Sinhala leader who was very nationalistic in his deeds. All other warriors too did their best. One and all they were all prepared even to sacrifice their lives to win the freedom for the country.

Time passed. The Sinhala soldiers were mastering martial arts. They were physically strong. The king was greatly pleased to witness all this. The auspicious hour arrived. The army of King Parakramabahu II set out on their march towards 'Pihiti-rata.' There were a number of check points put up by the Keralas on this route. King Parakramabahu's army destroyed them all. By this time, there were about 40,000 Kerala soldiers in the country. They were real warriors but the Sinhala army was skilled enough to face them. They started attacking the Kerala camps, left and right.

This was no easy task. The Sinhala soldiers did not retreat. They used all their strategies until the Kerala soldiers were completely weakened. The Sinhala forces were victorious. All Kerala camps were destroyed. Ultimately they reached Polonnaruwa, besieged the city and began to attack. Before long the Polonnaruwa kingdom was won by Parakramabahu II.

However, as the entire 'Raja-rata' was not freed completely, the king did not go to live there. It is during this time, around 1258 AD, in the 22nd year of his rule, the king was afflicted with an incurable disease.

China

The Mongols were trying to make Sri Lanka a part of Chinese assets. Cheng Ho, Kublai Khan's Admiral has wrapped all the countries in Indian Ocean under his power. The fleet's third voyage (Cheng Ho's second) from 1409 to 1411 consisted of 48 ships and 30,000 men. It followed closely the route of the first voyage but the Treasure Fleet established entrepots (warehouses) and stockades along their route to facilitate trade and storage of goods. On the second voyage the King of Ceylon (Sri Lanka) was aggressive; Cheng Ho defeated the king's forces and captured the king to take him to Nanjing. Cheng Ho, him being a Xinjiang Muslim forced the conversion of Indonesia into Islam. He wiped out Hinduism and Buddhism out of South East Asia.

India was invaded by Arabs and Mughals. As a result Tamil kings and their dynasty lost control to Muslims and their viceregal rulers of Vijaynagar Empire. The weakening of Indian Hindu rulers and the resultant Muslim conquest made the defence of India very weak. Any minor European power could bring a few ships and overrun the Kingdoms and the principalities of the Indian sub-continent. Vasco Da Gama was very successful in his anti-Muslim warfare and slowly took over enough territory to keep the spice trade all over Europe. Soon great powers like the Netherlands, Britain, France and Denmark were on the Coramandel Coast. The great Europen invasion halted the Islamisation and the imposition of Mongol, Arab, Turk and Persian traditions in India. The French and English brought science and philosophy into India. They liberated Indians from superstition and casteism. Hinduism and Buddhism which were rooted in Aryan and Sanskrit (Pali) superiority and myths came to a halt. People started questioning the values of traditional religion as France was going through a revolution. Monarchy was abolished and republics were born in several European countries. India wanted to follow the new democratic ideals of Europe. Britain and France was in the forefront to introduce these new ideas into this ancient country. European countries liberated India from Islam and Mongols. English replaced Sanskrit as a lingua-franca.

This transformation affected Sri Lanka. Sinhala kings vanished along with Tamil Kings and foreigners started ruling both countries by deceptive means. Sinhalese and Tamils lost their birth right in the place of their mother land.

European Colony

Portugal

Lourenço de Almeida, the Portuguese Admiral for India invaded Ceylon and made it a part of Portuguese colony. They simply looted all the spices and made a hundred times profit. They interfered in local politics and they introduced Catholic religion. They destroyed all the temples and vharas. They killed all the monks. Only 4 Buddhist priests were living at the time of Portuguese rule. Global free trade was hampered by these new colonisers.

The propagation of Christianity commenced with the arrival of the Portuguese in Colombo in 1505, in a fleet of ships commanded by a young sailor named Don Lourenco de Almeida, son of the first Portuguese Viceroy of India. Father S.G. Perera in his book ' A History of Ceylon for Schools ' divides the Portuguese presence in the island as falling into three distinct stages:

Portuguese - Sinhalese alliance (1505–1551)
Portuguese Protectorate of Kotte (1551–1597)
Portuguese Domination (1597–1658)
Learned Historians and commentators now generally regard the arrival of the Portuguese in the year 1505 as the beginning of the Dark Age in the history of Sri Lanka. The Portuguese through a policy of cunning statecraft and ruthless terror were able to govern the coastal areas of the island for most of the next 150 years, until the Dutch replaced them in 1658.
The Rajavaliya describes the entry of the Portuguese to Sri Lanka thus:- "There is in our harbour of Colombo a race of people, fair of skin and comely withal. They don jackets and hats of iron, rest not a minute in one place but walk here and there. They eat hunks of stone and drink blood."

Several noted historians and commentators have expressed their indignation over the methods employed by the Portuguese during their period of dominance in the following words:
Sir James Emerson Tennent refers to the Portuguese conduct in Sri Lanka in these terms-

"There is no page in the story of European colonisation more gloomy and repulsive than that which recounts the proceedings of the Portuguese in Ceylon. Astonished at the magnitude of their enterprises, and the glory of their discoveries and conquests in India, the rapidity and success of which secured for Portugal an unprecedented renown, we are ill-prepared to hear of the rapacity, bigotry and cruelty which characterised every stage of their progress in the East. They appeared in the Indian seas in the three-fold character of merchants, missionaries and pirates. Their ostensible motto was amity, commerce and religion. Their expeditions consisted of soldiers as well as adventurers, and included friars and chaplain majors. Their instructions were to begin by preaching, but, that failing, to proceed to the decision of the sword."
The historian Paul E. Peiris observes:

" They found in Ceylon a contented race, and a fairly prosperous country .. and it is melancholy to reflect that they succeeded in producing nothing but chaos. Out of a long list of high - born Hidalgos whom Portugal sent to Ceylon, it is difficult to point to one name as that of an enlightened statesman and high - principled administrator. No stately fabric remains as compensating for that religious fanaticism to which ample witness is borne by the devastated ruins of those lovely structures which the piety of generations had strewn broadcast over the country Their bequest to the Dutch was a colony of half -castes, a failing agriculture, a depopulated country, and a miserable and ill - conditioned people They had in Ceylon an opportunity almost unique in the experience of European nations in the East, but their moral fibre had proved unequal to the occasion".

G.P. Malalasekera in his Ph.D. dissertation which was later published as a book under the title ' The Pali Literature of Ceylon' makes the following comment in lucid language on the high handed methods employed by the Portuguese in pursuit of their colonial objectives which included conversion of the people of the country into Christianity and the concomitant repression of Buddhism:

"Every stage of their progress was marked by a rapacity, bigotry, cruelty and inhumanity unparalleled in the annals of any other European colonial power. Their ferocity and their utter indifference of all suffering increased with the success of their army; their inhuman barbarities were accompanied by callousness which knew no distinction between man, woman and child; no feeling of compassion was strong enough to stay their savage hands in their fell work. To terrify their subjects and bring home to them the might of the Portuguese Power, they committed atrocities which had they not been found recorded in the decads of their friendly historians, seems too revolting to be true. Babes were spitted on the soldier's pikes and held up that their parents might hear the young cocks crow. Sometimes they were mashed to pulp between millstones, while their mothers were compelled to witness the pitiful sight before they themselves were tortured to death. Men were thrown over bridges for the amusement of the troops to feed the crocodiles in the river, which eventually grew so tame that at whistle they would raise their heads above the water in anticipation of the welcome feast."

Batticaloa Principality

Lanka was a confederacy of various rulers for a long time and different princes ruled the different provinces and helped each other and plotted against each other. As the Portuguese colonisers were dividing and ruling Kotte, Kandy Kingdom and Jaffna Kingdom had to create a confederacy to fight against Portugal. As a joint strategy they approached the Netherlands to have a global free trade and to get rid of the Portuguese.
From Cape Comorin the Dutch Admiral Spitzburgen steered his course to Point de Galle ; but, without landing there or at any of the other places which were strongly fortified by the Portuguese, he sailed round the south coast of the Island and made for Batticaloa, where he anchored on the 31st May, 1602.

He learnt that the town of Batticaloa, where the chief of the province resided, was about three miles (5 km) inland ; so he sent him a messenger proposing to enter into trade with him. In the meantime he learnt from some Tamils who came on board that there was plenty of pepper and cinnamon to be had, but that it was to be obtained from the chief of the place. These Tamils brought with them a Portuguese interpreter; for Portuguese was the only European language then heard or spoken in Ceylon, and the natives of the Island had no idea that there were other white people who spoke a different language.
The Admiral was taken from Batticaloa to Kandy and was given a liberation hero's welcome as King Rajasinghe seized the opportunity to get rid of the Portuguese, the oppressors who were slowly encroaching the island systematically and promoting subversion against Rajasinghe.

The Batticaloa fort was built by the Portuguese in 1628 and was the first to be captured by the Dutch (18 May 1638). It is one of the most picturesque of the small Dutch fort of Sri Lanka, it’s situated in an island, still in good condition. Near Batticaloa the Portuguese had a tiny fort at Tanavare (there is a map of it but no remains) There is a 1st century CE Buddhist Dagaba inside the Dutch fort.
The Dutch carried out an 80 year war against Portugal and Spain.

Rajasinghe II of Kandy
Rajasinghe II of Senkadagala

World War II

In 1942, during World War II, the aircraft carrier HMS Hermes and escorting destroyer HMAS Vampire were stationed at Trincomalee. Both these ships came under Japanese aerial attack off Batticaloa and were sunk. Some of the remnants of HMS Hermes still remain at around 9 nautical miles (17 km) off Baticaloa.


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