Batticaloa, the main town on the eastern coast, was one of Joris van Spilbergen's first ports of call in Ceylon, in 1602. When the VOC began driving out the Portuguese in 1638, Batticaloa was once again first to be conquered. The lagoon behind the fort served as a natural harbour. The fort was later rebuilt. The area around Batecalo, now known as Batticaloa, was rich in a wide variety of trading goods: cotton and raw textiles, rice, honey, elephants, timber, wax, areca (a stimulant), and cinnamon. For many years the VOC blockaded the port of Batticaloa for local traders, and only lifted the blockade after peace had been made with the king of Kandy. The fort was used to combat cinnamon smuggling. Although the VOC tried to establish a monopoly in cinnamon, these efforts were not always successful. In 1638, the VOC and the king of Kandy forged an alliance to capture Batticaloa from the Portuguese. The king ordered the torture and execution of those Ceylonese who had sided with the Portuguese. After capturing the fort, the VOC transferred control to the king, who demolished it. Later, when relations with the king deteriorated badly, the Company blockaded the harbour of Batticaloa.