It is the administrative capital of the Batticaloa District. On the east coast, it shares borders with Trincomalee, Ampara and Polonnaruwa. The city and the district suffered due to civil war and natural disasters, such as tsunami, cyclone, and flood.
Rice and coconuts are the two staples of the district, and steamers trading round the island call regularly at the port. The lagoon is famous for its "singing fish," supposed to be shell-fish which give forth musical notes.
Hinduism is the major religion of Batticaloa. Batticaloa has historically been a centre of Portuguese Burgher culture, supported in the modern era by the Catholic Burgher Union. In the 1980s, despite Burger emigration to Australia, the Union still numbered some 2,000 speakers of Sri Lankan Portuguese, making them the largest community still speaking the dialect
Batticaloa has a tropical wet and dry climate that is temperate throughout the year. From March to May, the warmest time of the year, the maximum temperature averages around 32 °C (88 °F). During the monsoon season from November to February heavy rains are recorded, with average temperature of 25 °C.
The bus station is in the centre of city, known as "Puluyanthivu" and buses travel from major cities of Sri Lanka to Batticaloa.
The train station is about 1 km from town. The Batticaloa railway station is the terminus of Batticaloa Line, which starts from northern town of Mahawa (Maho) and make stops at many stations along the way before reaching Batticaloa.
There is an air service to and from Batticaloa. Cinnamon Air and Helitours both fly from Colombo.
Cinnamon Air provides daily scheduled flights that leave Colombo City (Waters Edge) and reach Batticaloa in 45 minutes. One-way fare per person is US$230 plus tax.
Batticaloa is a very compact town, so is easily walkable. Rickshaws are available for longer trips, but agree on a price before departing. Also, Sri Lankan Transport Board bus service and private bus/van service are available.
- 1 Batticaloa Fort. This fort was built by the Portuguese in 1628 and was the first to be captured by the Dutch in 1638. Later, the fort was used by the British from 1745. It now contains government administration offices.
- 2 Kallady Bridge. This bridge was built in 1924 during British colonial rule. The bridge was named Lady Manning Bridge in honour of the wife of William Manning, the British Governor of Ceylon. It was the oldest and longest iron bridge in Sri Lanka.
- 3 Batticaloa Lighthouse. This lighthouse near the estuary in Palameenmadu was built in 1913 and is 28 metres high. It's around 5 km from Batticaloa city, on Bar Road.
- 4 Gandhi Park & Batticaloa Gate. The Batticaloa Gate is a monument which was used as port to connect the town called Puliyanthivu (island) with the mainland of Batticaloa. This is believed to have been the landing site of Rev William Ault, who was the first Methodist missionary to Batticaloa, in 1814. Batticaloa Gate is a part of Gandhi Park. Within the closest area, public library and fountain park can be accessible.
- 5 Pasikudah beach. This is a coastal resort town located about 35 km northwest of Batticaloa town. It is a popular tourist destination, especially for its calm water body and resorts & hotels
- Heritage Museum.
- 6 Mamanga Pillaiyar Temple. This is a popular Hindu shrine, where an annual pilgrimage occurs during July/August.
- 7 St Mary's Cathedral. This is the main Catholic church in the district and serves as a cathedral for Batticaloa diocese. The structure has neo-Gothic architecture.
- Swimming, especially at Pasikudah beach, which has calm water.
- Boat travel from Batticaloa lighthouse to Batticaloa Fort (about 3 km) is recommended.
- Bird watching could possible if you arrange a local guide. Seasonal/migrating birds visit during particular months. Kudumbimalai (literal translation "Hair-knot-rock") is a recommended place for bird watching.
- The traditional folk dance called “kuthu” is performed during Hindu festivals or other special events.
- Batticaloa shops have local souvenirs, which represent Batticaloa, with drawings of “singing fish” – a mythical image of a mermaid. Batticaloa known as “Land of Singing Fish”.
- Cargill Food City (1), 67, St. Anthony's Street, Batticaloa, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com.
- Cargill Food City (2), No.03, Gnanasooriyam Square, Trinco Road, Batticaloa, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Prawn, crab curd and cashew nuts are famous in Batticaloa. Seafood is common. Sri Lankan and Indian cuisines are available, including Western food at hotels.
- Tropical fruits would available in particular seasons.
- 1 RN Buffet & Take Away, 3rd Street Covington's Rd (Old Batti). Small place with authentic Italian food
- Sunshine Bakery, 136,Trinco Road, ☏ . Sri Lankan, Indian & Western food and snack
- Tap water is mostly from wells, and its quality has declined as of 2020, mainly due to contamination by agricultural run-off. Stick to Bottled water. Coconut water is common and beer and toddy are available.
- 1 YMCA, 26/4 Boundary Road South, ☏ . Cheapest option in town. No mosquito net. Book well in advance.
- 2 Riviera Resort, New Dutch Bar Road, Kallady, Batticaloa, Sri Lanka., ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. An idyllic, eco-friendly family-run guest house in Batticaloa.
- 3 Hotel Bridge View, No.63/24,New Dutch Bar Road, Batticaloa, Sri Lanka., ☏ .
- 4 Maalu Maalu Resort & Spa, Pasikudah Bay, Pasikudah, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. This beach resort in Pasikudah offers deluxe rooms, suites, and attic rooms overlooking Indian ocean with facilities such as jacuzzi, cluster pools, infinity pools and spa.
- Amethyst Resort, Coconut Board Road, Passikudah, Kalkudah., ☏ , ✉ email@example.com.
- 5 Sri-Lanka.Holiday (holiday home), 143/1 School Road, ☏ , ✉ info@Sri-Lanka.Holiday. Two-bedroom holiday villa in the fishing village of Navalady, close to Batticaloa. The place is equipped with air-conditioning, hammocks and there's a yoga teacher on site. Bicycles are available to explore the surroundings and the beach with great views and lagoon swimming options is only 300 m away. Food can be delivered on request, or there are restaurants in the area. €29.
- 6 Hotel East Lagoon, Munai Lane, Uppodai Lake Road Sinna Uppodai, Batticaloa-30000 Sri Lanka., ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Located by the lagoon that drift through the middle of the Batticaloa town.
List of major hospitals and health care centres in Batticaloa town:
- Batticaloa Teaching Hospital, Hospital Lane, Batticaloa., ☏ . Free.
- G. V. Hospital, 35/2 New Kalmunai Road, Batticaloa., ☏ .
- New Pioneer Hospital, 91, Pioneer Road, Batticaloa., ☏ .
List of pharmacies in Batticaloa town:
- New Batticaloa Medicals, 19, Bar Road, Batticaloa., ☏ .
- Tip Top Pharmacy, 6, Main Street, Batticaloa., ☏ .
On 21 April 2019 the Zion Church was targeted by militant Islamic suicide bombers. At least 28 people were reported dead.
- Arugam Bay, about 85 km south from Batticaloa, is situated on the Indian Ocean in the Ampara district of Sri Lanka. It is a popular surfing and tourist destination. Two daily direct buses at 6AM and 10AM. Rs.135, 5-6 hours. Stops for 1 hour in the town of Akuraivili. Tuk-tuks offer to take travellers directly from there to Arugam Bay for Rs.1500, but you could just wait for an hour for the bus to continue and not spend any additional money. The bus ride ends in town of Putuveli, which is about 3-5 km to most guesthouses in Arugam Bay. Tuk-tuks ask for Rs.200-300, but Rs.150 is fair price. Or you could walk if no luggage; it's pleasant and flat.
- Pasikudah is a popular tourist destination, 35 km north, with beaches and flat year-round warm-water shallow-lagoons. There are inexpensive hotels and food.
- Polonnaruwa, west of Batticaloa, is an ancient capital city of Sri Lanka and listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site. It has ruins and bird- and elephant-watching places. Also, it connects with popular sites of Sigiriya amd Dambulla.