"BATTICALOA - LET THE FISH SING!" Batticaloa by mtncorg

Batticaloa Travel Guide: 11 reviews and 34 photos

Batticaloa, or Batti, for short, is known as the Home of the Singing Fish. It is said that on nights around the full moon - time of the Sri Lankan poya - that if you go out on the long bridge across the lagoon, you can hear the fish sing. The sound is upposed to sound like that of running your finger around the top of a wine glass.

Batti has a long history. The Portugese first established a fort here -1628 - but the Dutch soon followed -1638. The present fort was a long stronghold of the Dutch here on the eastern coast. The British came next and William Ault was a well-known Methodist missionary who made some impact on the area. Following independence, civil war has been ever-present in this region of mixed ethnicities - 30% Sinhalese, Tamil and Muslim. Horrific battles through the 80’s and 90’s went on here and even into this century.

The main town is established on a peninsula and two islands - one on which the old Dutch fort is located and the other, is on the sea barrier island across the lagoon. It is the second island which took the brunt of the tsunami. Some 2800 are known to be dead, but another 5000 are missing. There are several refugee camps in the area. The future is still clouded, not only because of the tsunami damage, but the unstable political situation, put on hold in light of the horrible aftermath of the tsunami.

One interesting group of people - the Batticaloa Burghers - was particularly hard hit from the tsunami. These people date back to Portugese and Dutch times, still speaking those languages at home. In recent years following independence, many had emigrated to Canada and Australia, but the community remaining was crushed by the high waters of 26 December.

I was here in Batti to help out with an eye clinic that was run to help survivors of the 2004 tsunami. For more on this clinic, see the travellogue and you can read anarticle in a professional journal which I wrote going a little more in depth, can be found here: Eye mission.

  • Last visit to Batticaloa: Feb 2005
  • Intro Updated May 26, 2006
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Reviews (11)

Comments (8)

  • Trekki's Profile Photo
    Mar 24, 2005 at 9:34 PM

    Wonderful page, Mark ! And great work, as usual !

  • Bwana_Brown's Profile Photo
    Mar 23, 2005 at 3:54 PM

    It is great that you were able to help out with the Tsunami relief effort! Also, very helpful pics and tips on the military history (recent and past!) of Batti. I'm very interested in old forts myself!

  • bijo69's Profile Photo
    Mar 22, 2005 at 4:30 PM

    Great work! I really admire people who get things done!

  • JetlagCity's Profile Photo
    Mar 16, 2005 at 1:32 PM

    Bravo! Another successful vision clinic, in a place that I'm sure is grateful for all the help it can get right now. It's wonderful that you can help so directly!

  • XenoHumph's Profile Photo
    Mar 16, 2005 at 9:11 AM

    Very interesting! Great page, as usual!

  • Stephen-KarenConn's Profile Photo
    Mar 11, 2005 at 8:43 AM

    Interesting page - fascinating travelogue. What a rewarding experience it must have been. I would love to hear the singing fish - but after a while it may get to be a little much.

  • KristaB's Profile Photo
    Mar 10, 2005 at 12:48 PM

    Your colleagues look rather tired, you all did a wonderful job helping local people, great to hear about young assistants being eager to learn and work on improving life conditions. So the fish don't sing in February, too bad. Very special page, Mark.

  • karenincalifornia's Profile Photo
    Mar 10, 2005 at 8:53 AM

    Those luxury accommodations at the Co-Op Inn probably have spoiled you now, Mark. Now I'll have to go figure out what sambal is. Interesting page.

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