Sri Lanka has been world-famous for so many reasons. This little island which is situated in the Indian Ocean, to the South of the Indian subcontinent is well known all over the world for its scenic beauty. In this article, let me take you to the South-Western part of this beautiful island, to share the glamour of some iconic places in the city of Galle.
Galle is the capital city of the Southern province in Sri Lanka. It is a city with not only scenic beauty but also some historical value. Because it is situated in the coastal line of the down south of Sri Lanka, the scenic beauty of the area gets increased more and more. If you travel to Galle by bus or train, both the railway station and the bus stand, which is the longest bus stand on the island, are situated next to each other and they are situated almost at the center of the Galle town area. Right in front of the bus stand, you can see the Galle International Cricket Stadium which is well known among both locals and foreigners as one of the most picturesque grounds in the world. If you take your eyes much further over the stands of the stadium, you would be able to see a clock tower with an outlook which should belong to the period of centuries back. If your eyes stopped there, yes, they just caught the landmark of the Galle city which is also a UNESCO world heritage, the Galle Fort.
Galle Fort, which is also known as the Galle Dutch Fort is about 500 m away from the city bus stand. If you take a walk to the Fort from the bus stand, on the way you would be able to witness the beautiful “Samanala bridge” which takes the shape of a butterfly on your right. The old clock tower raised upon the Dutch fort has always been an eye-catching icon for the tourists who visit this beautiful city. It is said that the Fort was built first in 1588 by the Portuguese, then extensively fortified by the Dutch during the 17th century. As soon as you step into the fort area there is a staircase on your right that takes you to the place where the clock tower is situated. There you can enjoy the glamorous view of the Galle city area including the famous Galle harbor on your right.
Inside the fort, there are so many interesting places to see and visit such as museums, the dutch reformed church, Meera mosque, the lighthouse, and the ramparts as well. Galle lighthouse has also been a landmark in naval activities in the Indian ocean for years. Ramparts have been the favorite place of the people who visit Galle fort. Even locals love to walk at the ramparts while enjoying the evening sea breeze. And also, they never forget to have a cool bottle of coke while walking. Not only that, if you love to do swimming there is a sea bath also at the beach area of the fort.
When you are heading towards the Matara direction, you can enjoy the view of the famous Rumassala hill on the other half of the curve of the bay area of the Galle coastline. It is situated about 3 km away from Galle town. In the old historical book “Ramayana ”, it is said that the Rumassala hill was created by falling off some herbs taken from Himalaya which was carried by Hanuman to cure Lord Rama. At this beautiful place, the Japanese Peace Pagoda and the famous Jungle Beach can also be seen. Jungle Beach is a very popular place among the local youngsters.
When you continue the journey along the Matara road, you will reach the Thalpe beach in about another 5 km. It is one of the most eye-catching beaches in the country. It is also known as the rock pool beach. According to the villagers, the rock pools were cut out of the corals around 50 years ago and were used to soak coconut husks to separate the coconut coir. The best time to visit this place is in the morning as the wave speed is increased when it turns to the latter part of the day. At Thalpe beach you can experience a natural swimming pool as well which is surrounded by rocks and reefs. If you hope to visit this place, please be aware of sharp ridges and sea urchins. Not only playing and bathing in the water, but you can also do rope hanging there.
If you step into a Galle – Colombo bus, it will take you along the Colombo Road to another beautiful town in Galle called Hikkaduwa, in just a half an hour journey. Hikkaduwa has become the main pillar of attraction for tourists because of the Hikkaduwa beach. This beach is reputed as the second-best beach for surfing in Sri Lanka. Hikkaduwa coral sanctuary has been the main iconic attraction in this area. It is located a couple of hundred meters offshore. The sanctuary has approximately seventy varieties of multi-colored corals. If you visit there on a weekend, it will be hard for you to seek a free space at the beach as it goes house- full of the young local boys who gather there to play cricket in the evening.
This beautiful island owns so many attractive beaches along its coastline. Most of them can be seen in the southern coastal area. Galle has not only become the home for beaches but also for some forests as well such as Kottawa Uyana, Kanneliya, and a part of the Sinharaja forest reserve. If you are a forest lover more than a beach lover, if you prefer to go inside of a forest and enjoy the flora and fauna, the Kottawa rainforest which is also known as the Kottawa Uyana may be the best recommendation you can have around the Galle city area.
You will have to travel about 15 km along the Galle-Udugama Road and you will reach the forest reserve in about 25-30 minutes. There you will be able to see not only so many vulnerable plant species but also some valuable herbal and endemic plants as well.
If you do hope to visit Kottawa Uyana do not forget to take some extra suits with you because when you see the natural pool, also known as the “Kottawa pool” near the forest area you would stop there to have a long bath with your friends.
Sri Lanka is called the “Pearl of the Indian ocean” for some reason. In this beautiful paradise of Sri Lanka, there are so many picturesque and important places to visit and see. Some of them have historical value too. We can visit and enjoy the scenic beauty of those places whenever we can. But in return, we have to give something too. We have a list of responsibilities to carry out and to make sure those places are safe. When we visit those places, let’s make sure not to leave any rubbish there and not to take back anything except the memories we collected. Let’s make sure that the future generations will also be able to enjoy the value of those places as much as we do in the present times.
By Rtr. Hirusha Munasinghe