History of City: Origin and Evolution

Batticalo a was under rule of Ruhunu, Polonuruwa and Kandyan Kingdom at various stages and those too till the Portuguese invaded the East coast of Ceylon (Sri Lanka) and had to rule with the consent of these Kings. Before the Portuguese landed in the East of this Country, Puliyanthivu which is the heart of the city was the brick built fortress of “PULIYAMARAN” a Governor appointed by kin g “SUHATHIRAN”, the king who ruled the region between Verugal Ganga and Manikka Ganga. This fortress was destroyed by the Portuguese in 1622 and they built a clay fortress which was destroyed by the Dutch who in turn built a stone fortress in 1639 which is seen in Puliyantivu even to – day where the District Secretariat and many other Government departments are housed.

Batticaloa has a Multi culture, Multi ethnic group, and is Multicast, Multi Language and Multi religious and this is an ideal community for Sri Lanka.

History shows that Batticaloa before Christ era, was with the aborigines – the vaddas who spoke Munda Language. From South India came the races knows as Thimilar, Mukkuwar and Karayar. This was under the period of Ruhunu Kingdom, Kandyan Kingdom and Polonuruwa Kingdom.

The Mukkkuwar, Thimilar and Vellalar came from South India at various stages. When the Mukkuwar and Thimilar were fighting for the capture of the areas under their control, it was the Mu slims who helped the Thimilar and occupied Eravur and Kattankudy. The Muslims came from Arabia for trade at various stages of occupancy by the South Indian invaders. It was during the Cholar period, the Vellalar came to Batticaloa. Each had their own Cast and Culture.

During the period, 1622 to 1639 it was the rule of the Portugese who were Catholics. They built a Fort of clay at the same site where present Fort stands. However during the period 1639 to 1796 it was the rule of the Dutch who were Christians. They destroyed the Fort built by the Potugese and built the present Fort which to date stands. During the period 1796 – 1947, the British ruled the area and they too were followers of Christ. The famous “Lady Mannings Bridge” was built by the Britishers during this period.

The Governor was Hon. Mannings during the period of the construction of the bridge and that was how it came to b e named “Lady Mannings Bridge”. This is the longest steel Bridge of this nature in Sri Lanka. Also the road along the lagoon from the bridge is named as “Lady Mannings Drive”. These were named “Lady Mannings” to honor the wife of the Governor Hon. Mannings. Batticalo a was and is famous for its agricultural products and the fishing industry. Within the city, it is the fishing industry which is in high proportion and not agriculture. The agriculture lands have been taken over for buildings and hence only a fraction of the extent is now under paddy cultivation .

The ancient rulers of the East coast of Sri Lanka, the Portuguese, the Dutch and the British who ruled this country fro m the 16th century to the 20th century used the sand bar as their seaport. The lighthouse at sand bar gives evidence to this fact.

Aanipanthy Sri Sithivinayagar Temple, Sri Mamangeswara Temple and Kannaki Amman Temple at Thandavenveli were built during the reign of the ancient kings. The Methodist missionaries started Batticaloa Methodist Central College for boys in 1814 and Vincent Girls High School for girls in 1820. The Catholic Jesuits started St.Michael’s College for boys in 187 4. All these schools are in the h ear t of the city. St. Mary’s Cathedralin Puliyantivu and the Catholic Church at Thandavenveli were built by Rev. Joseph Vaz, who came during the Portuguese era.


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