Major Attractions in Batticaloa District
Passikudah Bay contains a shallow fringing coral reef towards the outer bay with scattered coral communities within the bay, and is connected to similar reef systems further south towards Kalkudah. It is one of the best-known reef systems in the east and has been proposed as a Marine Sanctuary by NARA . Passikudah is very popular among visitors due to the calm clear waters which are ideal for swimming. This is located about 28km north of Batticaloa town, in the Batticaloa District, of the Eastern Province .
Originally a Portuguese settlement, the Fort of Batticaloa was first constructed in 1628 as a trading and administrative center. Set upon a small island, the fort protrudes into a swampy lagoon, surveying the brackish waters protected by the citys outer banks. The Dutch had arrived in 1602, drawn to the prospects of trade and the abundance of pepper and cinnamon grown by the local community. However, it was not until King Rajasinghe in Kandy urged Dutch intervention that the European colonial power took action, capturing the fort in 1638 and establishing sovereignty in the region.
Bordered by a moat on two sides and the lagoon on the others, the stone fort remained in Dutch hands for nearly two centuries before the British entered the country in the late 18th century and took control of the Dutch fortifications. The site has significant religious implications dating back to the 1st century B.C., evidenced by a Buddhist stupa and shatra from the Ruhuna Kingdom that remains in the area.
Located within the urban area of Batticaloa and adjacent to the lagoon, the site consists of mixed wetland habitats and extends to an area of 75 ha. The site has a well-known reputation for its bird population and includes a number of rare species such as Lesser Adjutant Stork Leptoptilus javanicus and Spot Billed Pelican Pelecanus philippensis. The lagoon also contains a small population of Broad Snouted Crocodile or 'Mugger' (Crocodylus palustris) a species also in decline and classed as vulnerable by the World Conservation Department (IUCN).
The Sathurukondan site is locally noted for the wide variety and large numbers of water and wading birds that flock to the open water thus making it a visual spectacle of visitor interest all the year round. Located close to the urban center, the area provides an underused nature site resource which could be further developed as an educational/recreation center for both local people and visitors to the area.