Beaches in Sri Lanka
The stretch of coastline south from Colombo is the tourist epicenter of the island, with a strip of superb beaches equipped with a sprawl of resort hotels luxury villas and down-at-heel guest houses. Although not the best stretchers of beach front but the region grew in popularity due to the close proximity to Colombo. Today the region is still popular due to the availability of major tourist attractions, comfortable star class hotels and other holiday excursions to keep all travelers happy. Every conceivable taste is catered for here, from the chic boutique hotels of Bentota to the five-dollar-a- night surfers’ flophouses of Hikkaduwa, making it possible to experience everything from the ultimate in contemporary Sri Lankan style and luxury to one of the cheapest beach holidays Asia has to offer.
The large town of Kalutarais the first stop south of the capital which still
Magical Sri Lanka
retains its own separate identity. The beach here and at the neighbouring suburb of Wadduwa to the north remains surprisingly unspoilt, however, given its proximity to the capital, and is home to a cluster of large resort hotels strung out along the narrow but still relatively peaceful sands. The beach front is generous to a great extent but the seas do get a little rough during certain times of the year and guests may be advised not to bathe there.
The town itself takes its name from the Kalu Ganga, or “Black River”, whose expansive mouth is crossed by a long bridge from where there are tempting views of tranquil waters and thickets of palm trees inland. Ahead, the view is dominated by the huge white stupa of the Gangatilaka (open daily 6am-7pm; entrance charge), rising high above town. One of the largest stupas on the island, this also has the added interest of being the only one in the world which is hollow. Inside, the cool interior is decorated with 74 murals, telling some of the Jataka stories (ancient Buddhist folk tales), which deal with the Buddha’s previous lives and teachings. The view from above sweeps across the mouth of the Kalu Ganga and along the seemingly endless line of palm trees beside the coast.
Sunset over Sri Lanka
A five-minute walk from the temple, just behind the town hall, the Kalutara Basket Weeving Society (Mon–Sat) offers visitors the chance to see how the locals can take the stubborn and unyielding leaves of the watakeiya palm and transform them into patterned mats, purses, lampshades and linen baskets. A few kilometres inland lies the intriguing old Richmond Castle. This magnificent hybrid of Indian and British architecture was originally a spice plantation mansion built for a wealthy regional governor who copied the plans from an Indian Maharaja’s palace designed by a London architect.
The town is also known for its mangosteens – the shiny, dark purple fruits obtaining luscious, translucent segments. Queen Victoria famously longed to, Isle one of the delectable fruits, but they were unable to survive the long journey back to England, so she had to make do with the description.