TRINCOMALEE, a town and former naval station on the north-east coast of Ceylon, loo m. N.E. by N. of Kandy. Pop. (1901), 11,295. It is built on the north side of the bay of Trincomalee, on the neck of a bold peninsula separating the inner from the outer harbour. There is a lighthouse on the extremity of Foul Point at the southern side of the bay, and another on the summit of Round Island. The inner harbour is landlocked, with a safe anchorage and deep water close to the principal wharves; the outer harbour has an area of about 4 sq. m. with a depth of about 70 fathoms. With its magnificent harbour - one of the five or six greatest natural harbours in the world - it used to be the headquarters of the admiral commanding on the East Indian station, with a garrison of infantry and British artillery. The breadth of the streets and esplanades somewhat atones for the mean appearance of the houses, but the town generally has a gloomy and impoverished aspect. Pearl oysters are found in the lagoon of Tambalagam to the west of the bay. A steamer from Colombo calls weekly with and for passengers and cargo. Average annual rainfall, 624 in.; average temperature, 812° F. Some tobacco, rice, and palm are grown in the district.
Attention was directed to the importance of Trincomalee as a naval base in 1896, when a commission of officers recommended its being turned into a modern fortress. The work was commenced in 1898 and finished in 1904. All the batteries were rebuilt and fitted with modern appliances. The whole area was connected with cable and telephone communication, and armed with the latest type of guns; and the fortress was supposed to be impregnable; but in the following year the station was abandoned, the naval yard closed, and the military garrison withdrawn. A man-of-war is still kept in Trincomalee Harbour, to work the defences.
The town was one of the first settlements of the Tamil race in Ceylon, who at a very early 15 period erected on a height at the extremity of the peninsula, now crowned by Fort Frederick, a temple dedicated to Konatha, or Konasir, named the "temple of a thousand columns." The building was desecrated and destroyed in 1622, when the town was taken by the Portuguese, who made use of the materials for the erection of the fort. The town was successively held by the Dutch (1639), the French (1673), the Dutch (1674), the French (1782), and the Dutch (1783). After a siege of three weeks it surrendered to the British fleet in 1795, and with other Dutch possessions in Ceylon was formally ceded to Great Britain by the Treaty of Amiens in 1802.
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