Southern Coastal Region – Galle With its unique history
Galle region, mere 119km’s from the City of Colombo offers breathtaking beaches where moonlit skies mingle with the golden sand. This historical city acclaimed its height of development in the 18th century and is the fourth largest city in Sri Lanka. Galle proudly acquires the ‘Galle Dutch Fort’, a World Heritage Site since it’s been given the title as the largest remaining fortress in Asia. Amongst other noteworthy visiting sites, Galle is famous for its Natural Harbour, Unawatuna Beach, National Maritime Museum, the Galle International Cricket Stadium and Rhummasala.
The Fort, replete with unfolding ramparts and imposing bastions, is today much as it existed in Dutch times. Moreover, the ensuing centuries have barely diminished the picturesque, old-world character of the town within. The sleepy, romantically named streets reveal fine examples of Dutch colonial architecture - mostly gabled buildings typified by wide doorways with deep verandahs supported by round pillars.
Its first fortifications were made by Portuguese in 1588 and taken over by Dutch in 1640 and developed in to a much bigger & strengthen for and it became the administrative centre of Dutch in Ceylon.
In 1796 handed over to English but many significant changes were not done apart from the Lighthouse & The Anglican Church & the new entrance cut through the ramparts between the Moon & Sun Bastion in 1873.
There stands the tall clock tower, from amid the trees rise the roof and gable of a church, and surrounding all are the walls of the fortress. Behind these walls and green ramparts, hidden beneath those trees, are the houses, churches, shops, hotels and clean quiet streets.
The main entrance to the fort is beneath a stone arch in the wall at the seaside, through which are constantly passing foot passengers and merchandise, carriages, wagons, and queer little bull carts. The fort's state of preservation makes it one of the best of its kind to be found anywhere in the former Dutch colonies of the East. In 1988 this wonderful legacy was recognised by UNESCO with Galle's inclusion as a living monument in the World Heritage List.
35 min drive from the villa, Mirissa is a beautiful and quiet fishing village in the South of Sri Lanka. Mirissa is reported to have the prettiest beach on the South coast with clean sand, calm water and safe swimming. (Latitude 5Â° 58Â´ N; Longitude 80Â° 26Â´ E).
Mirissa is located on the Eastern side of Weligama bay, one of the most beautiful bays in Sri Lanka, famous for its white sand and the coconut palms which fringe the beach. The bay is protected by natural coral reef which makes it excellent for snorkelling, diving, fishing, whale watching and sailing. Many surfers come to the bay as there are some exciting surfing spots in this area.
The traditional Sri Lankan shop, the kade or boutique (a corruption of a Portuguese word), examples are still plentiful in rural areas. The most basic are constructed of wooden boarding, with a window counter through which the proprietor conducts business.
Sri Lanka is known for its spices, its colorful textiles, its timeless antiquities and its marvellous jewellery. Walking along the walled fort area you come across some amazing shops and people selling exquisite stuff. A mind boggling collection of antiques which includes sofa sets, bed, cutlery, furnishing table and glassware. They restore old furniture as well make new one for you. You can have it shipped to any part of the world. While you walk along the main street make a note to step in to Dutch market occupied by fruit stalls, flower arcades and just to remember the vegetable market is just a walking distance from there.
Sri Lanka’s wide variety of very attractive handicrafts can be found throughout the area in shops, street stalls and government-run stores housing traditional Sri Lankan masks carved from kaduru wood, paintings & batiks with intricate Sri Lankan motifs dyed into the wax-offset fabric. Jewellery fashioned from Sri Lanka's famous gems & moonstones.
Handunugoda has now become a world famous destination for both travelers& connoisseurs of tea. This plantation has received acclaim as the only producers of White Tea - untouched by human hands in the whole world. Their plantation & Tea centre is also a very popular landmark for visitors to Sri Lanka, who wish to obtain a comprehensive knowledge of the workings of Tea – Rubber &Cinnamon Plantations. Their specialty is personal & dedicated service to those who visit them.
Plantation managers with years of experience conduct visitors round the estate. You are treated to complementary tea at the proprietor’s bungalow with a panoramic & soothing view. Bird life & wild life abounds on the plantation. It is truly an Eco sanctuary, with deep commitment to preserve the nature’s bounty. If you are a visitor to Sri Lanka you are in the land of the finest tea. Handunugoda is unique. They produce teas that are not produced anywhere else in the world. There is no better gift that you can give yourself or those back at home than handunugoda tea. Their catalogue caters to every mood & temperament of the tea drinker. Teas to start you off in the morning, afternoon teas & evening liquors. Health teas – cinnamon tea – camellia tea &tulsite. Ginger tea, with an assortment of health benefits.
Under its Sanskrit name of Lanka, the island figures prominently in the epic poem known as the Ramayana, which, tradition says, was written around 2,000 years ago by the sage Valmiki.
According to the story The Sri Lankan king Ravana captured the princess Sita, the wife of prince Rama was transported to his capital in Lanka by his flying machine - a peacock powered sky chariot called the dandumonara. In this very long story Rhumassala becomes a very important fact that during the battle of Rama &Ravana to win Princess Sita.
The monkey-general Hanumaan featured in a similar episode when Rama's brother Lakshman was wounded in battle. A medicinal herb was required to save his life and Hanuman was dispatched to the Himalayas to fetch it. However, by the time he arrived he had forgotten its description, so he brought back a fragment of the Himalayas containing many herbs twisted in his tail in the hope that among them might be the correct one. However, the mountain fragment slipped and fell while Hanuman was over Lanka, and it broke into three pieces. These landed in different locations, one of which was Ritigala, the second Hakgala and the third Rumassala.
Even today the mountain reserves many endemic trees & bushes that quite unusual to the local area and the under the thick layer of soil the whole mount is formed by granite which you can see while driving through the main road.
On the top of the mount the brilliant white Peace Pagoda & the temple of the Monkey God Hanumaan reserve the best views of the setting sun & port city of Galle.
Sinharaja Rain Forest
Sinharaja is a lowland tropical rainforest of global importance showing certain affinities with the rainforests of South and North-East India, Indonesia and Malaysia. As a result of long isolation in the shelter of the central mountains of Sri Lanka, as well as being separated by oceans from other regional rainforests, Sinharaja displays high level of endemism in the composition of both its flora and fauna. As such it warrants special protection. Indeed, the bulk of Sri Lanka's remarkable bio-diversity is concentrated in rainforests such as Sinharaja, along with those of the Peak Wilderness and the Knuckles Range. 22,000 acres in extent, the Sinharaja Rainforest amounts to only 10 percent of the remaining forest cover of the wet zone of Sri Lanka. Saved from a government sponsored logging operation in the mid-1970s, the rainforest was recognized as an international Man and Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO in 1978 and declared a national wilderness area in 1988. The protection of Sinharaja was further strengthened by the subsequent inclusion of the rainforest in UNESCO's list of World Heritage Sites.
A visit to this unique eco-system is bound to prove rewarding and memorable, provided the visitor can stop obsessing about the persistent leeches (Hirudinya sp.) and look around for other species!
Yala National Park
Ruhunu (Yala West) National Park or Yala as it is popularly known - is Sri Lanka's most visited national park. It is situated 305 kilometers southeast of the Villa. Apart from being renowned for the variety of its wildlife, it has several distinctive physical features, such as extensive scrub jungle, patches of open country, and many tanks and lagoons. In addition, the park has a fine coastline on its eastern boundary with impressive dunes up to 25 meters high, broad sandy beaches and offshore coral reefs. Yala also features a number of scattered rock outcrops, some with caves.
Yala's vegetation mostly consists of secondary forest containing semi-arid thorn bush. Along the coast this vegetation is either stunted or prostrate. Small patches of mangrove appear along the coastal lagoons.
There are elephants, leopards and the species that are more frequently seen include the Sri Lanka sloth bear, water buffalo, Indian wild boar, Sri Lanka spotted deer, Sri Lanka sambur, mouse deer, Sri Lanka black-naped hare, toque monkey and Sri Lanka jackal.
Yala is home to a variety of reptiles, such as the Sri Lanka swamp crocodile, which is abundant in the abandoned tanks. The Sri Lanka estuarine crocodile is to be found in and near the rivers, and the water monitor or kabaragoya,.Yala is home for hundreds of endemic & immigrant birds that makes the music of the nature & remember to feel the silkiness of a peacock feather if you found on the ground.