The Eastern Province is a truly unique region when it comes to culture and religion thanks to a rich history dating back thousands of years. It’s easy to be immediately immersed in culture across the province as it is home to four different religions. From Christian churches in Trincomalee, Buddhist stupas in Ampara, Islamic Mosques in Kalmunai to Hindu Kovils at every stretch on the road, you’ll encounter snippets of all four religions across the region. Notably, some of the biggest Hindu Kovils on the island are in Trincomalee, including the Koneswaram Kovil and the Pathrikali Aman Temple. Top tip for all visitors is to cover your shoulders and legs for respect, remove any head gear and be prepared to enjoy some of the most awe-inspiring religious sites that Sri Lanka has to offer.

For the travelers who road trip from the north to the south (or vice versa), you’ll have prime viewing of the sheer quantity of the unbelievably coloured kovils, stupas, mosques and churches. Whether it’s the architecture, the local musicians or the king coconut water venders usually positioned out the front, stopping at the side of the road to check out a cultural site should definitely be on your list.


Must see Cultural Sites

Koneswaram Kovil

Located in Trincomalee, the Koneswaram Kovil is one of the most important Hindu temples in the region, dating back hundreds (if not thousands) of years. Positioned atop a cliff face, the views are also breathtaking.

Trincomalee, Sri Lanka

Open daily from 6am to 1pm, reopens from 4pm to 6.45pm

2km from Trincomalee Central Bus Stand

Top tip: As respect, visitors are requested to cover the shoulders and legs

Sri Pathrakali Amman Temple

Arguably one of the most jaw-dropping Hindu temples in the country, be prepared for colour overload from the temple’s connected shrines. Known by locals also as the “Kali Kovil”, it is dedicated to the Hindu goddess Bhadrakali. Certainly a must-see on your list when in Trincomalee.

Trincomalee, Sri Lanka

Open all year

200m south from Trincomalee Central Bus Stand

Top tip: Try visiting on a festival day to see the temple rituals come alive, namely February/March and September/October

Thiruchendur Murugan Alayam Temple

Located off the beaten track, this Buddhist Vihara is an important ancient place of worship. Built over 2,000 years ago, the scattered statues and relics in and among the sand dunes has been capturing the attention of locals and foreigners (but not enough to feel any bit of a “tourist” vibe). It is one of the few Buddhist temples in the East.

Ampara, Sri Lanka

Open all year

Navalady Road, 1.5km from Kallady Bridge in Batticaloa

Top tip: Shoes must be removed so if you’re visiting during the day, bring a pair of socks to avoid burning your feet.

Muhudu Maha Vihara

Located off the beaten track, this Buddhist Vihara is an important ancient place of worship. Built over 2,000 years ago, the scattered statues and relics in and among the sand dunes has been capturing the attention of locals and foreigners (but not enough to feel any bit of a “tourist” vibe). It is one of the few Buddhist temples in the East. Located off the beaten track, this Buddhist Vihara is an important ancient place of worship. Built over 2,000 years ago, the scattered statues and relics in and among the sand dunes has been capturing the attention of locals and foreigners (but not enough to feel any bit of a “tourist” vibe). It is one of the few Buddhist temples in the East.

Arugam Bay, Sri Lanka

Recommended to go outside of the hours of 11am and 3pm due to the heat

Muhudu Maha Vihara Mawatha, 5km north of Arugam Bay Beach via Panama Road

Top tip: Avoid visiting during the middle of the day due to the heat

THINGS TO DO

View our top of things to do and see in Trincomalee, Pasikuda, Batticaloa, Ampara and Arugam Bay

ABOUT EAST

Information about when is the best time to visit, water temperature, prime whale watching season and more

HOW TO GET HERE

Find out how you can get to the East via car, train, bus or by air from main cities around the country

TRAIN TIMES

Check out the Sri Lankan Railways official website for train times connecting the Eastern Province to the rest of the island

East Sri Lanka on Instagram

Be inspired for your next trip and check out our page
@VISITEAST_SRILANKA

WEATHER

View live updates on the weather in the East, brought to you by AccuWeather