Let's begin the tour.

Trip Start Jan 08, 2014
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33
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Trip End Apr 09, 2014


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What I did
Old Fort, Main Square, Akersloot Bastion.

Flag of Sri Lanka  , Southern,
Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Having found my way into the Fort and having exchanged pleasantries with the armed policemen there, I proceeded to go on a complete "Kodak frenzy" as I believe the expression is.  Let's go through it in the order I walked it albeit that I realise many of the images are going to be below the limited text.  I am afraid there is nothing I can do about that, it is just the default of the site.

I decided to turn left and therefore wander round in a vaguely clockwise direction.  As I explained before, this is a Buddhist thing that I learned many years ago in Nepal.  I fully understand that this is not a religious site, indeed it is apparently 80% Muslim, but I just have a natural inclination now to go that way.  It is odd as that formed no part of my religious instruction in the Christian church (which I no longer subscribe to) and certainly was not a cultural thing where I grew up, but I still do it.  Indeed, in Sri Lanka, I have noticed local people walking happily anti-clockwise round a dagoba (Buddhist holy place) so maybe it is specific to Nepal.  I don't know but I'll update the blog if I ever find out.  It's just one more thing I have to learn and there are so many. 

Was it Jimmy Cliff who sang an old semi-reggae balled called something like "More questions than answers" to which the "hook line" in the chorus was, "The more I find out, the less I know"?  Isn't that the truth?

The first thing that caught my eye was the lovely old-fashioned looking street signs, all in the three official languages of Sri Lanka which are Sinhalese, Tamil and English.

I wandered past a few old buildings which I could not enter as they house law courts and other official agencies.  Despite being a World Heritage Site and very old, the Fort is still very much an active place and not mothballed as some sort of Museum.  I think that is one of it's main attractions.  Having taken a photo of the delightful main square I came upon the Akersloot Bastion (lovely name, isn't it?) and again my VT tip will explain all about it hopefully.

"The building you see in the images is the Akersloot Bastion which lies to the Southern side of the Fort facing the sea.

This
is the story of a man called Willem Jacobszoon Coster, a Dutchman born
in 1590 and in 1638 in the employ of the V.O.C. (Dutch East Indies
Company) which was dedicated, as the name implies to trade routes with
the far East. They dealt particularly in spices which were a hugely
precious commodity in those days. In 1637, King Rajasingha II, King of
Kandy, had already asked the V.O.C. to help him oust the occupying
Portuguese from the country and an Admiral named Adam Westerwold was
dipatched. He was subsequently joined by Coster and his force and they
succeeded in first capturing the Fort at Batticaloa. In 1638 the Dutch
and the King made another agreement and proceeded to do exactly the same
thing to Galle with the defeated Portuguese being transported to the
Coromandel Coast (India).

The entire Fort was named Akersloot
after Coster's birthplace and his wife sailed to join him in 1640 making
her one of the first Dutch women in the country. Coster was
subsequently raised to the post of Governer of Zeylon (Ceylon). Things
then went badly wrong for him. He returned Trincomalee to the King but
refused to give back any more land and so the King had him murdered on
21st August 1640. His poor wife arrived after his murder and so turned
straight round to return home.

Be careful who you deal with!

You cannot actually enter the bastion but it is interesting to look at it and learn about the history."

So that is the story of Akersloot and the unfortunate Coster, so now you know.  There is plenty more still to see in the Fort and I am having a productive day today so stay tuned.
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