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

WELGAM VIHARA

Velgam Vehera is a historical Buddhist temple situated in Kanniya. It also known to Hindus as Natanar Kovil. Historically Velgam Vehera wasone of important Buddhist temples in the country, worshiped by bothSinhala and Tamil Buddhists.

Trincomalee, Sri Lanka

LANKA PUTUNA VIHARE AND BEACH

Lanka Putuna Viharaya in Trincomalee is one of the Oldest Buddhist temples in Sri Lanka. It dates back to the time it was brought to Sri Lanka during the reign of king Kithsiri Mewan also known as Kirthi Sri Meghawanna (303-331) who was the son of King Mahase.

Trincomalee, Sri Lanka

SERUVILA RAJA MAHA VIHARA

Seruwila Mangala Raja Maha Vihara is an ancient temple which is among the sixteen holiest Buddhist shrines [Solomathana] in Sri Lanka.

Trincomalee, Sri Lanka

GIRIHANDU SEYA THIRIYAI

Tiriyaya hamlet is situated in the East Kaddukulam Pattu District Secertary’s Division of the Trincomalee District. Tiriyaya is accessible from the turnoff between the 27th and the 28th mile posts on the Trincomalee-Pulmuddai Road.

Trincomalee, Sri Lanka

Tiriyaya is accessible from the turnoff between the 27th and the 28th mile posts on the Trincomalee-Pulmuddai Road.

Al Aqsa

Al Aqsa Grand Jumma Masjith is a large and beautiful mosque located in Kattankudy, Sri Lanka. It is the third largest mosque in Sri Lanka, and is considered to be one of the most important religious sites in the country for Muslims.

Batticaloa, Sri Lanka

7.00 AM to 9.00 PM

6.5 Km from Batticaloa Railway Station

* Dress modestly when visiting the mosque. * Remove your shoes before entering the prayer hall. * Be respectful of the other worshippers.

Kalmunai Beach Masjid

Kadatkarai Palli is one of the oldest mosques in Kalmunai, Sri Lanka. Located near the beach, it looks picturesque at night with all the lights illuminating the sky. The mosque is a significant religious place in the city. It has become the important landmark in the last few years. It is famous for the annual Flag Festival. The tradition of celebrating this festival dates back to around two-hundred years. This mosque welcomes people of all religions and nationalities. Anyone can visit the mosque and offer their prayers.

Ampara, Sri Lanka

Open 24 hours

2.2 km from Bus Stand Kalmunai

Mamangam Temple

The Mamanga easwarar temple is one of the oldest Hindu Kovils (temples) in Batticaloa as well as in the eastern province of the country is situated around three kilometers from Batticaloa town According to some historical records and myths, this temple belongs to the period of 2nd to 3rd Century AD, and constructed at the place where Prince Rama had performed his prayers towards Lord Shiva during his search for Princess Seeta and had placed a handful of rice to denote Lord Shiva. This lump of rice had become a lingam and the area derived its name Maamanga-Easwara According to an ancient book named Mattakalappu Maanmium.

Batticaloa, Sri Lanka

St. Mary's Cathedral, Batticaloa

The Cathedral of St. Mary is a Cathedral of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Batticaloa in Puliyanthivu. The cathedral is a landmark and Catholic historical icon in the district of Batticaloa, Sri Lanka. It was first built in 1808 by Paschal Mudaliyar.

Batticaloa, Sri Lanka

6.00 am to 6.30 pm

Magul Maha Viharaya

Magul Maha Viharaya is an ancient Buddhist temple situated in Lahugala, Ampara District of Sri Lanka. The temple lies on the northern edge of the Lahugala National Park, about 22 km off from Siyambalanduwa town and about 11 km off Pottuvil town. Lahugala has been part of the Kingdom of Ruhuna in ancient Sri Lanka. The ruins of Magul Maha Vihara are one of the major tourist attractions of the Eastern province. This temple is also an archaeologically protected monument of the country.

Ampara, Sri Lanka

Open 24 hours

Pottuvil road 20 km off Siyambalanduwa town

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

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